Infidelity can shatter even the strongest relationship, leaving
behind feelings of betrayal, guilt, and anger. For the one-quarter of married
couples who have suffered this breach of loyalty, according to the American
Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, overcoming those feelings can be
But with the support of family, friends, a good therapist, and
each other, it is possible for a couple to put the cloud of an affair behind
them, and in some cases, emerge as a stronger unit.
For others, an affair is too heavy a weight for a relationship
to bear, and parting ways may be the only answer. But before a fighting couple
both head for the door, there are steps that can be taken that might help the
relationship get on the track to healing. Experts tell WebMD why someone might
have an affair, how an affair can be overcome, and how to know when it's time
to call it quits.
Cause and Effect
"There are many different reasons why someone might have an
affair," says Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, a marriage and family therapist in
Illinois. "Sometimes it is purely a case of bad judgment -- a person may
feel satisfied with their marriage, but a late night at the office with a
co-worker and a couple of glasses of wine can lead to lack of impulse control.
More commonly, it's a search for an emotional connection -- wanting someone to
pay attention to you, flatter you, be attracted to you."
Whatever the reason for the affair, the effect infidelity has
on a relationship is devastating.
"Nothing rocks a person's sense of
self, trust, and marriage more than infidelity," says Weiner-Davis, author
of The Sex-Starved Marriage. "Infidelity leaves people questioning
their sanity, as well as everything they believe to be true about their spouse,
and about the viability of their marriage. Infidelity is
People find themselves crying a lot, not being able to
concentrate, being upset, and feeling depressed.
"These are all of the initial emotions
that go with the discovery of the betrayal," Weiner-Davis tells WebMD.
"However, emotions change over time."