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3 Traits of Marriages That Survive Infidelity and how to know if yours is one

Perhaps you have to travel for business, and an attractive business partner travels with you or is a client at your destination. Perhaps an old high school flame reaches out to you on social media after his/her divorce, and you form an emotional attachment. Perhaps you are getting too comfortable with your personal trainer at the gym.

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Part of taking responsibility for your marriage is “sealing up the house.” That doesn’t mean you hide from the world. It simply means you take control of what comes into your house.

When you understand the vulnerabilities in your marriage, you can address them head-on. What will you do/not do, share/not share? How and where will you spend time with members of the opposite sex outside your marriage, even at work? How can you strengthen your spouse’s sense of security and trust by addressing and reducing vulnerabilities?

Aside from this “umbrella” of elements that are good indicators of which marriages survive infidelity, several others add to the chance of success.

Here are a few more:

  • Commitment to honesty and rebuilding trust. Believe it or not, the responsibility for this doesn’t rest solely on the unfaithful partner.

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    Yes, the nature of the honesty will be different for both partners, as will the roles in rebuilding trust. But both partners will have to be equally committed to transparency about their feelings and the affair.

    And the unfaithful partner will have to accept that his/her life will be lived in a fish bowl for some time. Being proactive in assuring the betrayed partner of trustworthiness is a huge sign of taking responsibility and of a commitment to healing the marriage.

  • Openness to counseling.

    Recovering from infidelity is difficult enough, even in the safest environment. It’s exceptionally difficult to do with only the polarized partners.Emotional safety is a non-negotiable if there is going to be honest disclosure of vulnerabilities and feelings.The unpredictability of flashbacks, painful feelings, and obsessions can make it difficult to put parameters around dealing with the affair. It needs to have boundaries in order to be safe and effective while leaving protected time to actually “live.”

  • Willingness to work through the perpetrator-victim mindset.

    It’s all but inevitable. The unfaithful partner will be seen as the guilty one who “did this” to his/her spouse. And the betrayed spouse will take on a “victim” stance.While this is understandable in the early stages after an affair has been discovered, it’s not conducive to a marriage coming out stronger. Healthy boundaries are incredibly important, especially during this delicate time of reconciliation and healing.There’s a difference between taking responsibility for a damaging choice and being punished as a perpetrator of intentional cruelty. And there’s a difference between expressing the pain of betrayal and playing the role of a victim who has no responsibility for the marriage.

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    No matter who has done what before or during the affair, no one can build or heal a marriage alone.

  • Willingness to work together on a new marriage.

    When a couple enters therapy with the resolve to make their marriage better than it was before the affair, their marriage has great promise. They know that the marriage they once knew can’t exist anymore. And it probably shouldn’t. Will they still keep certain qualities of their “first” marriage? Of course. But in order for them to forgive one another and themselves, they have to feel the infusion of new life into what the infidelity destroyed.

The question of which marriages survive infidelity is best answered by the mutuality of determination in the partners. They both have to really want the reconciliation and healing of their marriage.

They also have to be willing to faithfully take on their respective responsibilities for making that happen.

Marriages riven by the betrayal of infidelity can come back together. And those with the greatest success are those in which both partners decide that their reconciliation won’t be in vain.


Written by Dr. Karen Finn
Originally appeared in Dr. Karen Finn

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Dr. Karen Finnhttps://drkarenfinn.com
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. She helps her clients navigate the challenges of divorce – from the moment it enters their mind as a possible solution to the discontent they feel in their marriage (it’s not always the best answer), through the turmoil of getting divorced, and on through creating a fulfilling life post-divorce. You can learn more about Karen and her work on her website.
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