Is Marriage Never The Same After Infidelity?

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marriage never the same after infidelity

“Cheating and lying aren’t struggles, they’re reasons to break up…” – this is what bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry said in her book Between The Tides. And we can’t help but agree with her. But, in case you’re at the receiving end of infidelity, you may wonder, “Is marriage never the same after infidelity?” Even if you have been the cheating partner, you may wonder if an apology can be enough to rekindle a broken marriage.

In this article, we’ve delved deeper into this issue, with the help of psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couples counseling, and found out the reasons why a marriage may never be the same after infidelity. We’ve also collated a few tips for you to cope with unfaithfulness in marriage. So, if you’re dealing with the trauma of infidelity or are seriously considering reconciliation after infidelity, read on…

Why Is Marriage Never The Same After Infidelity?

Before we get to the question “Why is marriage never the same after infidelity?”, let’s look at the definition of infidelity. Nandita explains, “Infidelity or unfaithfulness in marriage is when one partner cheats on another, but there can be various forms of such cheating. Though, when we think of infidelity, we usually think of a sexual affair, cheating need not necessarily be in the form of a one-night stand. A person can have a romantic or an emotional affair with someone outside his marriage, without the involvement of sex.”

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She adds, “A marriage can be rocked, no matter which type of infidelity has taken place. But in every form of infidelity, the biggest crack is caused by the breakdown of trust.” So, let’s look at a few reasons why a marriage is never the same after infidelity:

Related Reading: The 3 Types Of Men Who Have Affairs And How To Recognize Them

1. Breach of trust

Nandita says, “When the trust factor in a relationship is affected, it shakes the core foundation of the relationship. After all, trust is the most important factor in a relationship. Trust is breached even if your spouse withholds information about meeting an old girlfriend, let alone cheating on you.”

A friend of mine, Roger, had a similar experience. After he came to know that his wife, Alicia, cheated on him with a coworker, he could never trust her again. They remained married but the relationship didn’t seem to have the trust element in it. Roger would often be found complaining, “How can I possibly trust her again?” There was so much pain in his voice.

2. Loss of sense of security

Any sort of infidelity in a marriage, be it emotional or physical, tends to affect the sense of security in the marriage. Nandita says, “Both partners might sense a loss of security in this situation. The betrayed spouse will feel insecure in the future and will always wonder where the relationship will go, whereas the unfaithful spouse might feel they have lost a healthy and secure bond with their spouse.”

unfaithfulness in marriage
A marriage goes through a loss of security after infidelity

3. Emotional trauma

Another reason why marriages don’t remain the same after infidelity is the emotional trauma it causes. Nandita believes, “It’s not just the partner who’s been cheated on that feels emotional distress after an act of infidelity. Even the partner who has cheated may go through emotional trauma in this case, when they realize their mistake.”

Related Reading: 11 Feelings One Goes Through After Being Cheated On

4. Resentment

Why is marriage never the same after infidelity? You see, the resentment that builds up in the equation between a couple after unfaithfulness or cheating in marriage is one of the prime reasons why marriage is never the same after cheating.
Nandita explains, “The betrayed spouse is the one who feels resentment in such cases, quite obviously. And this resentment then adds on new negative emotions of hate and anger that eventually change the dynamics of the relationship or marriage.”

5. Sense of sadness

Nandita says, “Once both the partners reflect on what has happened, a profound sense of sadness engulfs them, there’s this immediate sense of the relationship having ended, a sense of loss, and a feeling that the entire trajectory of marriage has changed. Both the partners may go through a lot of grief about losing the positives that the relationship once had.”

Related Reading: How To Heal After Being Cheated On And Stay Together

6. Lack of communication

Any act of cheating affects communication between a couple. So, there can be long bouts of the silent treatment meted out by either or both. This ruins the bond between the couple furthermore. And if not addressed, it can very well spell the end of the relationship.

7. Intimacy is never the same again

What’s the worst part about cheating? It’s the whole ‘falling out of love after infidelity’ phenomenon. You see, no matter what form of cheating it was, emotional or physical, sex between the couple just isn’t the same anymore.

Related Reading: Why Do Married Men Cheat? Expert Shares 9 Possible Reasons

A friend of mine, Debbie, once confided in me how repulsive the idea of being physically intimate with her partner was after she learned that he had cheated on her. She sighed as she said, “The pain of infidelity never goes away, my friend. It seems I will never be able to heal from this. Whenever he touches me, I cringe thinking about what he must’ve done with the other woman.”

Can A Marriage Survive Cheating?

So, is marriage never the same after infidelity? And can the marriage come back on track after cheating? Well, we all know, it may never be the same. But a lot depends on how strong the bond between the partners was before the cheating took place. Nandita adds, “There are chances the marriage can survive if the spouses decide to make it work.”

A Reddit user says, “It also takes a lot of empathy. First from him in the form of remorse. He should hurt because you hurt. And eventually, you’ll need to empathize with how he feels when he understands that you won’t trust or respect him the same way again. (If he’s truly committed you may take pride in his growth and who he has become. But it’s not the same).

“There must be acceptance. For him accepting that he won’t be trusted for quite some time. For you, that you can eventually accept this as part of your story. And it takes time. Time to watch actions and make decisions. Time to heal. Time to dig. Time to rebuild trust through consistent actions over time.”

How long does a marriage last after infidelity?

Research conducted by the American Psychological Association proved that 53% of couples who went through infidelity in their marriage separated within 5 years of the cheating incident, with or without therapy. However, this doesn’t mean there’s a concrete answer to the question: how long does a marriage last after infidelity?

can a marriage survive cheating
How many marriages survive cheating depends on many factors

How many marriages survive cheating?

A study in the US proved that 35% of all marriages have been faced with infidelity of some sort, while 52% of those marriages ended in divorce. But the answer to how many marriages survive cheating may change depending on cultural contexts and expectations.

For instance, as Nandita points out, “In South Asian communities, many women are financially dependent on their husbands and may not opt for divorce so easily. So, even in the face of infidelity, they may stick to the marriage, for money or for reasons such as societal pressure and the upkeep of children. So, while on the surface level, such marriages seem to have survived, eventually, they end up as hollow relationships with hardly any love.”

Related Reading: The 7 Types of Affairs and How They Affect Relationships

How To Cope With Unfaithfulness In Marriage

So, if you’re still wondering, “Is marriage never the same after infidelity?”, well, it isn’t. But how can a marriage survive cheating? A grounded theory study on couples healing from infidelity proved that even subjects who went through sexual infidelity “chose to stay together, and self-identified as having experienced meaningful healing.” So, while a lot of marriages end due to unfaithfulness, a significant number of marriages survive after such grave instances of cheating too.

Will you remain with your spouse after being cheated on?

So, how does one cope with cheating in marriage? And how different is a marriage after infidelity? Does detachment after infidelity work for all couples? Or is it better to stay together and fight this menace with a strong resolve to be together in the future? Well, only you can decide what the answers to these questions will be for you and your marriage. However, if you do decide to stay, Nandita has a few tips on coping with the trauma of cheating and working toward fixing the whole ‘falling out of love after infidelity‘ scenario:

1. Accept that the infidelity has taken place

Nandita says, “The first thing one needs to do to cope with infidelity is to come to terms with the fact that it took place.” Now, we agree with her. A lot of times, we engage in denial. And when we deny the existence of a problem, we make it all the more difficult to deal with. So, shoving infidelity under the carpet isn’t going to help. It’s only going to make you two more distant and the marriage a dull and lifeless existence.

Related Reading: What Are The Consequences Of Affairs When Both Partners Are Married?

2. Go through despair

Nandita believes, “Once you accept that your relationship has been rocked by cheating, you and your partner must go through despair.” This is a therapeutic stage, where facing the pain of the strained relationship together makes you come closer to each other.

A friend of mine, Ashley, had to go through the trauma of infidelity when her husband, Damien, declared one fine day that he had cheated on her with a coworker a year back when she was pregnant. Now, Ashley initially decided to part ways, but after a couple of weeks, she and Damien sat together and cried their hearts out, reliving what they had been as a couple before the instance of infidelity. They eventually got back together and Damien has been a loving husband since then.

3. Have an honest and open communication

Can there be an alternative for a heart-to-heart conversation with your spouse about the incident and the emotional trauma caused? Well, no, since communication is the key to a healthy relationship.

Related Reading: Surviving An Affair – 12 Steps To Reinstate Love And Trust In A Marriage

Nandita says, “Talking leads to a better understanding of your spouse, irrespective of whether they have cheated or not.” So, detachment after infidelity may not be the best solution to mending a marriage. Even if you want your cheating spouse to accept the blame for what they’ve done and then focus on rebuilding trust in the marriage, you should be ready to communicate first.

4. Find the root cause

When you’re having a conversation with your cheating partner, instead of making it a show of hysterics, focus on identifying the underlying cause of the infidelity. There can be multiple reasons behind cheating, such as:

  • Dissatisfaction with one’s sex life
  • Feeling neglected or unappreciated in the marriage
  • Sudden urge to try something new

A coworker, Janice, went through similar trauma when she realized her husband, Martin, had had a year-long affair with his secretary. Janice was devastated, till she decided to find out why her loving husband had resorted to cheating. She then realized that Martin felt emasculated because Janice earned more than him. And this led him to cheat on her to feel like an alpha male. Yes, silly, we know! But this is possible too.

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5. Find reasons to stay

For anybody who wishes to continue in a marriage with a cheating spouse, there’s a need to find enough reasons to stay. Now, we’re not saying you should stick together for your children or because of societal expectations (in some cultures), but you should sit together and figure out what worked in your marriage before the infidelity.

Related Reading: How To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship – Expert Suggests

Nandita says, “Couples must find areas that make them wish to continue — some flicker of hope amid the gloom.” Some such reasons could be:

  • The fact that you both have a common life goal, such as traveling the world or building a start-up, which is rare to find in other people
  • Inherent traits of a partner, such as compassion or generosity, that once made you fall for them
  • Memories of some crucial moment in the past, such as a deadly accident or a painful hospitalization, where you stuck together for each other

6. Get over negative emotions

Nandita believes, “It’s very important to manage your negative emotions in this phase. So, be it guilt, anger, or shame, partners mustn’t just get over their emotions but should also be emotionally available for each other. The unfaithful spouse should stand by the other partner who’s devastated by the cheating incident.”

During this stage, be mindful that there’s no:

  • Blame-shifting
  • Sarcastic comments
  • Ridicule or offensive jokes
  • Use of abusive language or name-calling

A Reddit user agrees: “There’s no need to lay blame or feel shame. It simply works like loan forgiveness. Either the debt is forgiven and wiped from the record or it’s not. If it’s not, it becomes a matter of being honest with yourself as to just how much of a chance the relationship truly has. “

7. Be supportive

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided to make the marriage work, it’s crucial to show your support to your partner. Nandita says, “Maybe a healthy dose of honesty and sense of love is all that is needed to revive your relationship. Be patient and try to be a supportive partner in these troubled times, especially when your cheating spouse shares what made them get into an affair in the first place.” And by being supportive, we also mean rebuilding trust. Share passwords if you have to, but remember to rekindle the trust quotient again.

Related Reading: 10 Things To Do When You Are Drifting Apart In Your Relationship

8. Find a support system

While it’s crucial to be a supportive partner when you’re dealing with infidelity in your marriage, it’s also extremely important to find a support system for yourself to hasten the infidelity recovery process.

Nandita says, “So, spend time with and confide in friends, family members, coworkers, or any mature adult who can give you sound advice. Take their suggestions but don’t let them dictate your decision. You can also spend time with your supportive friends as a healthy distraction. Treat this as a self-care activity.”

9. Get professional help

If all else fails, and you find it impossible to get over the unfaithfulness in marriage, well, there’s nothing better than sound and professional advice from a marriage counselor.

Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Partner Is Sleeping With Someone Else

You may also decide to move forward without mending your marriage if things are beyond repair. However, some expert suggestions can always speed up the healing process and help you rebuild trust in the relationship or deal with the split. And if you’re struggling to find the right professional help, Bonobology’s counselors are always ready to help!

Key Pointers

  • Marriage is never the same after infidelity because of a lot of reasons, such as lack of trust, loss of security, and resentment
  • A marriage can survive cheating if both partners are equally devoted to making it work
  • Some ways to cope with falling out of love after infidelity are: accepting the act of infidelity, finding reasons to stay, and getting professional help

Whether you have decided to move forward in life, without your cheating spouse or have agreed to mend the marriage and are progressing on your healing journey, remember, the decision should be yours. Don’t feel forced to get back together with a cheating partner just because your friends or family members want you to. Healing from infidelity and rebuilding trust in a marriage may take time. But you should not be feeling trapped in a marriage or regret staying in one. You have one life. Let it not go to waste over a mere act of cheating.


1. How successful are marriages after infidelity?

It all depends on how much the couple wants the marriage to work. Yes, initially, it may seem as if the pain of infidelity never goes away. But if there is equal effort from both partners, the marriage can be revived. But if one or both partners decide that the marriage is irreparable, nothing can make it work.

2. Will a marriage ever be the same after infidelity?

Just like glass, when broken, is shattered into pieces and can never go back to being what it was before, a marriage after infidelity too consists of broken pieces that may never be put together like before. Falling out of love after infidelity is common. And yet, the willingness of two mature partners can make the marriage work, albeit on a different dimension.

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