An Affair can Break (or Make) a Relationship

Silent DisagreementIf a partner has ever been unfaithful to you, you may have experienced the immense pain, confusion, and betrayal that can come with discovering that the person you shared your life with was sharing a little bit of it with another person, too. For many people, the emotional damage of an affair seems insurmountable and ultimately, this type of transgression often leads couples to split. But for others, the affair may represent a turning point of sorts. When couples are faced with the hard truth of infidelity, they have a choice. They can end the relationship, which in some cases may be the best option. Or, they can take a good look at what brought the relationship to that point, examine their part in the deterioration of intimacy and trust, and decide how to get back the foundation that existed at the beginning of the relationship.

In a recent article, Ian Kerner, an author and sexuality counselor, interviewed several relationship experts about how couples cope in the aftermath of an affair. Author Tammy Nelson points out that even though the discovery of an affair can be hard to handle, the majority of couples faced with this situation know that unfaithfulness involves more than just emotional or physical betrayal with another person. James Walkup, a marriage and family therapist, says that after the shock of the affair has worn off, couples may realize that even though their spouse cheated on them, they still love that person and are not quite ready to throw the towel in on their relationship.

Nelson also speaks about monogamish relationships. When couples are together for a long period of time, they may consider renegotiating the parameters of their relationship. Some couples may choose to permit sexual dalliances and physical trysts while other couples may adhere to more stringent monogamish guidelines which only permit flirting or going to strip clubs, for example. Nelson notes that relationships should be fluid. They change over time and for many partners, the monogamy of the relationship may have to change as well. Overall, deciding whether an affair is going to make or break a relationship is a very personal choice. Walkup says, “Sometimes my clients acknowledge that coping with infidelity was the worst and yet the best thing to happen to their relationship,” Walkup says. When the pain subsides, couples who choose to work through the issues that led to the affair may benefit from a more intimate and closer bond than they ever had before.

Kerner, Ian. (2013). What to do after an affair. (n.d.): n. pag. CNN. Web.

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  • Leave a Comment
  • TIM

    April 1st, 2013 at 9:49 PM


  • Tk

    April 4th, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    That is messed up. What a recipe for disaster.

  • JJ

    March 28th, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    You’d be amazed at what’s acceptable, actually. I used to think this was a deal-breaker, too. But depending on the couple, it doesn’t have to be. If it’s not for you, don’t do it. Most of the world agrees with you.

    I happen to have a spouse and a lover, and they each bring good things into my life and complement one another’s efforts in many ways.

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