Can Marital Education Program Heal Wounds of Infidelity?

Although infidelity is a difficult problem to address, marriage therapy has been shown to be highly effective at treating this painful issue. Marriage education, which teaches communication and compromise, is another form of treatment. But until now, its effect on marital satisfaction for couples dealing with infidelity had not been examined. Elizabeth S. Allen of the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado in Denver, and lead author of a study that looked specifically at this treatment, explained that marriage education does not offer couples the personal experience of working directly with a therapist and is less invasive and intense than marriage counseling. Because many couples who receive marriage education may be struggling with overcoming infidelity issues, it is important to determine if the help they are receiving will actually benefit them in the long run.

For her study, Allen and her colleagues evaluated 662 military couples who were going through treatment as usual or the Prevention and Relationship Education Program (PREP), an in-depth marriage education program that addresses core issues of relationships. Of the participants, nearly one-fourth reported infidelity prior to treatment. The researchers assessed the participants’ level of marital satisfaction and communication skills prior to treatment, after treatment, and 1 year later.

The study revealed that the couples with infidelity issues in PREP saw more improvements than those in the other treatment. “Thus, overall, couples with infidelity assigned to the intervention showed significantly greater improvements in satisfaction after intervention compared to couples without infidelity assigned to the intervention, and tended to also show relatively greater improvements in communication skills,” said Allen. However, she noticed that although these couples improved their level of marital satisfaction through treatment, it was still much lower than those levels found in couples who had no prior infidelities. She added that even after 1 year, the couples who dealt with infidelity were still less satisfied with their relationships than those who never had struggled with an affair. Allen believes that marriage education programs may be good in the short term for couples with infidelity, but more research is needed to determine if these programs will have long-lasting positive effects.

Reference:
Allen, E. S., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Loew, B., & Markman, H. J. (2012, January 9). The Effects of Marriage Education for Army Couples With a History of Infidelity. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026742

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  • Jessie

    Jessie

    January 18th, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    An affair come really hurt the relationship.If there is a tiff between the partners it can be overcome and the relationship can continue like before.But when it comes to infidelity,although it may not end a relationship,it leaves behind scars that are hard to erase and the relationship will never be the same again.But the impact has to be minimized as much as possible.And marriage education seems to help in this area,so why not!

  • ron

    ron

    January 19th, 2012 at 7:04 AM

    seeing how there is no seriousness in many people with regard to relationship and marriage nowadays it would be good to have marital education,really.many people just don’t know how to handle a relationship.they do not put in any effort into it.they need to be taugh how a relationship grows,how a marriage succeeds.it takes work,it takes conviction and even sacrifices at times.

  • Miranda C

    Miranda C

    January 19th, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Ok so therapy and education are good for some, but just knowing why it happened and learning everything that you can about the affair is not going to make the hurt go away or make the trust magically reappear. These kinds of repairs take lots and lots of time, if they can even heal at all. For some the connection could be strong enough to get you through it, but there are other relationships that just may never be able to recover. It is so individualized that it is going to be kind of hard to compare, no matter what the long term data says.

  • BuZz

    BuZz

    January 19th, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Infidelity is hard to overcome but not impossible. Showing a participant how it wasn’t his or her mistake and showing them how to forgive and move on could help save a marriage. So I give a thumbs up to this sort of an initiative.

  • Chad

    Chad

    January 20th, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    I might be in the minority of men, but my wife cheated on me. And although I still loved her it never felt like things could be the same for us again. How can you think about making love to her and she has let someone else in your bed? It is not that I hold a grudge, and I guess she had to do what felt right to her at the time but I would have never done that to her and could not get past the fact that she did not consider my feelings just as much as I would have hers. End of storybook marriage.

  • lewis

    lewis

    January 20th, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    although the partner who has been cheated on is always viewed sympathetically,we should not forget the cheating partner either.Nobody does it on purpose or to hurt his spouse.

    A lot of different things lead into the happening and a little concern towards the perpetrator wouldn’t harm anyone.

  • Melissa

    Melissa

    January 22nd, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    My spouse and I went through marriage therapy when he cheated. I was so angry with him that it took me a very long time to get over it. And even though it happened years and years ago that anger and hurt sometimes comes back at the most unexpected times. But I have had to learn how to not allow it to consume our marriage if I indeed want to have a marriage. He apologized and we worked through it together- he does not deserve to continue to be punished anymore than I do. But it is hard to not let it come into play from time to time because there are just things that are naturally going to trigger those emotions all over again.

  • Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem

    Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem

    January 23rd, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Lewis some infidelity is done on purpose to hurt. It is called a revenge affair.

    Both partners need to understand how they contributed to the infidelity and accept that both need to change. Educational programs can teach this as couple therapy is in progress. I see education programs as a way to lessen the cost and duration of therapy for some couples.

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