Can Affairs Save Marriages?

I seem to be seeing more-than-the-usual number of articles or books promoting the idea that an affair might be an effective cure for a disappointing marriage. These writers suggest it might be just the spark needed to reignite romantic or sexual passions you’ve been missing. Is there any validity to this claim?

Let me be clear about two things that are absolutely true: (1) affairs do produce heightened emotional and sexual experiences and (2) many marriages do become stronger on the other side of an affair. But that’s not the whole truth. Any counselor who specializes in affair recovery will also tell you that (1) the heightened affair experiences pull a person away from their spouse rather than toward them and (2) affairs tend to damage marriages rather than save them.

Yes, it’s possible for a couple to find their way back to even greater trust and intimacy in their relationship, but the path is hard and full of pain.

Much of my work is with couples trying to recover in the aftermath of an affair. Many of them would tell you honestly that their marriage is better now that it ever has been, but none of them would call the affair a “good thing.” (You can read some of their stories at AffairHealing.com.)

Affairs lead to better marriages like heart attacks lead to healthier lifestyles. They can be great motivators for change, if you survive the damage. But they are best avoided, since neither survival or positive change are guaranteed outcomes.

Tim Tedder

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