Can You Fix Your Marriage If Your Spouse Had An Affair?

When you say your marriage vows in front of loved ones and commit to a lifelong union thereafter, loyalty and honesty become unsaid (or said) foundations of your relationship. Cheating or having an affair can put an immense strain on these values. Infidelity within a marriage or long-term commitment can mean different things to different couples, explains Mayo Clinic, but the traditional definition of the word describes emotional and/or physical attachments with someone other than your spouse. An affair rarely refers to a single occurrence and is characterized by a stronger emotional and physical union with someone outside of the marriage relationship, per Very Well Mind.

While there are reasons why men cheat and women commit adultery, the statistics show that collectively, around 15-20% of married couples engage in such behavior, per Love to Know. The effects of an affair, particularly on the person who was cheated on, are devastating, to say the least. Coming back from the betrayal is often a long and arduous journey that few couples decide to take; in fact, infidelity is one of the main reasons why couples decide to call it quits (via Love to Know). 

Can you fix a marriage when your spouse has had an affair? Is there a way to mend the pain, humiliation, hurt, and anger?

It is possible to fix a marriage after an affair

It is definitely possible to find a way out of the damaging ramifications of an affair, provided that the partner who cheated isn't narcissistic, doesn't blame you for their indiscretion, and feels genuine remorse, according to Happily Committed. Empathy for how you're feeling is a crucial first step toward regaining your trust. Your partner has to commit to winning you back, despite how long and challenging that journey might be for them. 

It is also important — for both of you — to delve into the uncomfortable topic of why the affair happened. Even though that may sometimes feel like an unfair thing to do, relationship expert Jen Elmquist shares that having insight into the "whys" can be beneficial for your marriage. "Infidelity is very complex, there's a lot of depth and complexity to why people might cheat and how you can find a way back to each other," she explains to NBC News.

The partner who cheated must make all efforts to cut off contact with the person they cheated with (via Mayo Clinic). An affair is basically a severe breach of trust, so complete and total transparency on the part of your partner has to be one of the ways they hold themselves accountable (via NBC News).

Getting outside help to fix a broken marriage

It is natural for you and your partner to feel like you're going around in circles discussing the breakdown of your relationship after an affair, especially if the hurt and pain are still fresh. At times like these, reaching out to a licensed professional can help, explains Choosing Therapy. It is also important to find the best therapist to suit your needs. Counseling can be a safe and objective environment in which you can navigate the healing process after an affair. Licensed Mental Health Counselor Travis McNulty shares that genuine commitment to restoring the relationship often leads to positive results. "I see it in my office every day," he adds, per NBC News

Even though you might be tempted to share your painful process with as many listening ears as you can find, try and exercise caution in this area. McNulty advises that people often have their own agenda behind advice and this can complicate things for the couple trying to rebuild their marriage. "The person who was cheated on may be able to forgive and move on, but the family still holds an intense grudge that usually puts more pressure on an already vulnerable relationship that is trying to rebuild and move on," he explains. 

Finally, the powerful act of forgiveness can work wonders in fixing a broken marriage. Coming back from an affair often creates a stronger bond between both spouses, according to Happily Committed