Relationships Spouses & Partners Marital Problems Can Your Marriage Survive Infidelity? By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 01, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Carly Snyder, MD Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print kristian sekulic/E+/Getty Images The topic of infidelity and cheating spouses is everywhere. We hear about it frequently in the media and have seen the marriages of friends or relatives that have been devastated by affairs. It's no surprise that many couples internally ask the question, "How would I cope?" with such a situation if it were to happen to you. It's particularly common to also wonder if your own marriage could survive such a serious betrayal. Overview Popular psychologist and self-help book author, Dr. Harriet Lerner writes about this in a PsychologyToday.com article, "Will Your Marriage Survive the Affair?" (2013). She writes, "Keep in mind that an affair is not a terrible aberration that only occurs in unhappy marriages. It’s a myth that the “real reason” behind an affair is a faulty spouse or bad marriage. A sexually and emotionally distant marriage will definitely make an affair more likely, but it’s also true that affairs happen in excellent marriages as well. Affairs have many sources, and opportunity and work context are among the predisposing factors." Facts About Infidelity Marriage can survive infidelity, but it is important to remember certain facts: It's not easy It hurts There will probably be anger, tears, and depression It will take time to heal It will take a decision to trust again It will take the cheater taking responsibility and not blaming his/her spouse for the affair It will take the "victim" also taking responsibility for underlying problems in the marriage It will take courage It will require serious commitment from both of you to save your marriage It is likely that you will need professional help to process what happened Many professionals have seen marriages not only survive infidelity but become better than before. It is true that a marriage can survive an extra-marital affair. But, this will only happen if both partners are willing to acquire and use the skills necessary to make their marriage successful. Healing Developing a new way of interacting requires you both to: have deep and meaningful conversations express underlying vulnerable emotions temper defensiveness, blame, denial explore your underlying patterns or "vicious cycles" of communication be willing to forgive hurts be completely honest look at emotional baggage that may have gotten you to this place Some feelings that are prominent when a married couple experiences cheating include: ShameGuiltBlameAngerHurtDisappointmentRageEmbarrassmentForgivenessJealousyLustResentmentDenialMis-trust How to Practice Forgiveness in a Relationship When Not to Stay Your marriage can survive this onslaught of feelings. However, some marriages are not meant to be saved. If infidelity is one of many symptoms of domestic violence and/or emotional abuse in your relationship you will never feel safe enough to work through your problems. These are very entrenched issues that are often not changeable. It is challenging for the betrayed partner to know if they can give the spouse a "second chance." If the infidelity was a one-time event, this is also quite different than someone with a pattern of ongoing cheating. If your spouse is a serial cheater, it may be time to throw in the towel. There are other positive signs to look for such as the spouse showing remorse and showing clear actions that the affair has ended. The spouse can also be extremely transparent by supplying account passwords, allowing an app or GPS tracking, taking a lie-detector, or be willing to sign a post-nuptial agreement. These suggestions might not work for everyone, but they are worth consideration in the short-term while trying to work through infidelity. Best Online Divorce Support Groups Where to Get Help See out a licensed therapist or psychologist who specializes in working with couples. Be sure to ask about their expertise in helping with infidelity in particular. A place to start if you are still unsure if you want to save the marriage, or the affair is still going on, is a process called "Discernment Counseling." Some people find it better (or easier) to speak with their clergy. This may be a good initial step, but a professional counselor will be needed to help you work through the long-term healing process. Should You Give a Cheating Partner a Second Chance? By Sheri Stritof Sheri Stritof has written about marriage and relationships for 20+ years. She's the co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Relationships Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.