Can Your Marriage Survive An Affair?

We asked these questions: How many marriages end as a result of extramarital affairs? Why do people cheat? What are the legal implications of infidelity? Can the marriage be saved?

The percentage of marriages that end as a result of extramarital affairs varies across different studies and surveys. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), infidelity accounts for 20-40% of divorces in the United States. A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that in 88% of couples studied, one partner cited infidelity as a major contributing factor to their divorce. Additionally, a Gallup poll revealed that more than half of partners would leave their spouse and get a divorce if they found out their spouse was having an affair.

Cheating in a marriage doesn’t just have emotional implications, it has legal ones too. Read on to find out what they are. And what it takes to save a marriage after infidelity.

Infidelity Plays One Part

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It’s worth noting that while infidelity is a significant factor in many divorces, it’s not the only reason. Other factors such as communication problems, financial issues, and lack of intimacy can also contribute to the breakdown of a marriage.

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Infidelity in a marriage can have significant legal implications, particularly in the context of divorce proceedings. Here are some key legal implications of infidelity in a marriage:

Grounds for Divorce

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In some states, adultery is considered a “fault-based” ground for divorce, meaning that it can be cited as the reason for the divorce. This can potentially impact the divorce proceedings, including the division of assets and spousal support.

Property Division

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If marital funds were used to facilitate the affair, the court may take this into account during property division. The spouse who did not commit adultery may be awarded a larger share of the marital assets to compensate for the misuse of funds.

Spousal Support

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Adultery can influence spousal support (alimony) in some instances. In South Carolina, for example, a person who commits adultery may not be entitled to receive alimony.

Child Custody

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While adultery itself is not a direct factor in child custody decisions, the court may consider the impact of the affair on the child’s well-being. If the affair directly affects the child, it could influence custody arrangements.

Criminal Consequences

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In some states, adultery is technically a crime, although it is rarely prosecuted. In South Carolina, for instance, adultery can lead to a criminal record, fines, and even jail time.

Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements

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If a couple has a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with provisions related to adultery, the cheating spouse may face penalties or a larger property settlement for the innocent spouse.

Settlement Negotiations

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The threat of exposing adultery can provide significant leverage in settlement negotiations. A cheating spouse may agree to a more favorable settlement to avoid the public disclosure of their infidelity.

Some States Are No-Fault

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It’s essential to note that while infidelity can have legal implications, it’s not always necessary to prove adultery to obtain a divorce. Many states allow no-fault divorces, which do not require proof of wrongdoing by either spouse.

Why Do People Cheat In Marriages?

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People cheat in marriages for a variety of complex reasons, often involving a mix of personal, emotional, and relationship factors. Here are some of the key reasons why people cheat:

Unmet Needs

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One partner may feel that their emotional, physical, or sexual needs are not being met within the marriage, leading them to seek fulfillment outside.

Lack of Communication

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Poor communication and conflict avoidance can create an environment where one partner feels unheard, leading to a sense of disconnection and potentially, infidelity.

Emotional And/Or Physical Disconnect

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A growing emotional or physical distance between partners can make one or both parties more susceptible to the temptation of an affair.

Financial Pressures

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Financial stress can put a significant strain on a marriage, potentially leading to feelings of resentment and disconnection that may contribute to infidelity.

Low Compatibility

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Partners who realize they have made a mistake in their choice of spouse or feel they have grown apart may be more likely to cheat.


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In some cases, a partner may cheat as a form of revenge for a past betrayal or to even the score.

Boredom & Thrill-Seeking

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The desire for excitement and novelty can lead some individuals to cheat, especially if they feel their marriage has become stale or unfulfilling.

Body Image & Aging

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Midlife crises or feelings of insecurity related to aging can contribute to a desire to prove one’s attractiveness or virility through an affair.

Childhood Baggage

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Unresolved childhood issues, such as neglect or abuse, can affect an individual’s ability to form and maintain healthy, committed relationships.


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Substance abuse or other addictive behaviors can increase the likelihood of infidelity.

Anger & Self-Esteem

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Cheating can be a way for some individuals to cope with feelings of anger or low self-esteem.

Lack of Love

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lack of love or emotional connection in the marriage can drive one partner to seek it elsewhere.

Low Commitment

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When one partner feels that their commitment to the marriage is not reciprocated, they may be more likely to cheat.

Need for Variety

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Some individuals may cheat due to a desire for sexual or emotional variety that is not being met within their marriage.


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Feeling neglected or ignored by one’s partner can create a sense of vulnerability to the advances of others.

Sexual Desire

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Unmet sexual needs or a desire for sexual exploration can lead to infidelity.

Situational Factors

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Opportunities for cheating, such as travel or online interactions, can increase the likelihood of infidelity.


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Cheating can be a way for some individuals to temporarily escape the stresses and mundanity of their daily life, including their marriage.

Economic Factors

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Fear of financial instability or lack of economic independence can make it difficult for someone to leave a marriage, leading them to seek comfort or escape through an affair.

Fear & Acceptance

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The fear of being alone or the acceptance of an unfulfilling marriage can contribute to a decision to cheat rather than address the underlying issues or seek a divorce.

It’s essential to recognize that each situation is unique, and the reasons for cheating can be complex and multifaceted. Addressing the underlying issues and improving communication within the marriage are crucial steps in preventing infidelity and building a stronger, more fulfilling relationship.

How To Rebuild Trust After Infidelity In A Marriage

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Rebuilding trust after infidelity in a marriage is a challenging and complex process that requires commitment, patience, and effort from both partners. Here are some key steps to help rebuild trust:

Take Accountability & Apologize Sincerely

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The unfaithful partner must take responsibility for their actions and apologize sincerely for the pain caused.

End The Affair & Focus On Transparency

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Immediately end the affair and focus on being transparent in all activities to rebuild trust.

Establish Open & Honest Communication

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Regularly discuss feelings, concerns, and challenges to create an environment of trustworthiness.

Follow Through On Commitments & Promises

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Consistently follow through on commitments and promises to demonstrate reliability and reinforce trust.

Create Opportunities For Shared Positive Experiences

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Engage in activities that bring joy and closeness to the relationship, helping to move forward beyond the past hurt.

Set Clear Boundaries & Expectations

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Establish and regularly revisit boundaries to ensure they remain relevant and supportive in rebuilding the relationship.

Schedule Regular Relationship Check-Ins

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Hold regular discussions to share progress, challenges, and appreciation for each other’s efforts in healing the relationship.

Recognize Potential Infidelity Triggers

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Be aware of patterns or situations that may trigger stress or distance in the relationship and address them openly.

Avoid The Blame Game

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Both partners should avoid making accusations and instead focus on actions and feelings to move forward together. Be kind.

Find Ways To Connect & Reconnect

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Spend time together outside of heavy conversations to focus on what brought you together and to put trust-building efforts into practice.

Consider Couples Counseling

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Seek professional help to guide the healing process and rebuild trust.

Understand That Trust May Not Be Fully Restored

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Recognize that trust may not be fully restored, but with time and effort, it can be rebuilt to some extent.

Focus On Attainable Goals

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Set realistic goals for rebuilding trust and acknowledge that it’s a long-term process.

Seek Spiritual Guidance

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For those with a faith, trust in a higher power can be a foundation for rebuilding trust in the relationship.

Remember, rebuilding trust after infidelity is a unique and individualized process that requires patience, commitment, and effort from both partners. It’s essential to respect each other’s pace and allow time for healing, acknowledging that progress may not be linear, and setbacks may occur.

The Beauty Of Second Marriages: Why Round Two Often Triumphs

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It turns out that second marriages often emerge as the true gems, exceeding the sense of fulfillment and contentment found in the initial journey down the aisle. But what makes these unions stand out? Let’s explore the compelling reasons why second marriages often feel like a breath of fresh air. READThe Beauty Of Second Marriages: Why Round Two Often Triumphs

Family First: A Gentleman’s Guide To Dating A Single Mom And Bonding With Her Kids

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Dating a single mom comes with its own set of guidelines and considerations, distinct from other dating scenarios – and it can be rewarding, as well. Here are some key points to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation. READFamily First: A Gentleman’s Guide To Dating A Single Mom And Bonding With Her Kids

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  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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