Infidelity: Mending your marriage after an affair
Infidelity causes intense emotional pain, but an affair doesn't have to mean the end of your marriage. Understand how a marriage can be rebuilt after an affair.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Few marital problems cause as much heartache and devastation as infidelity, which undermines the foundation of marriage itself. However, when both spouses are committed to authentic healing, most marriages survive and many marriages become stronger with deeper levels of intimacy.
Infidelity isn't a single, clearly defined situation — and what's considered infidelity varies among couples and even between partners in a relationship. For example, is an emotional connection without physical intimacy considered infidelity? What about online relationships? Each person and couple need to define for themselves what constitutes infidelity in the context of their marriage.
Why affairs happen
Many factors can contribute to infidelity, and most aren't fundamentally about sex. Some common reasons include:
Feb. 16, 2016
- Lack of affection
- Loss of fondness and caring for each other
- Breakdown of communication related to emotional and relationship needs
- Physical health issues, such as chronic pain or disability
- Mental health issues including depression, anxiety, ADD, learning disabilities or bipolar disorder
- Addiction, including addiction to sex, gambling, drugs or alcohol
- Unaddressed marital problems that have been building for years
See more In-depth
- Infidelity. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Infidelity.aspx. Accessed Dec. 30, 2015.
- Mao A, et al. Online infidelity: The new challenges to marriages. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2009;51:302.
- Gordon KC, et al. Treating couples recovering from infidelity: An integrative approach. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2005;61:1393.
- Snyder DK, at al. Treating infidelity: Clinical and ethical directions. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2005;61:1453.
- DeMaris A. Burning the candle at both ends: Extramarital sex as a precursor to marital disruption. Journal of Family Issues. 2013;34:1474.
- Online infidelity. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Online_Infidelity.aspx. Accessed Dec. 30, 2015.
- Alfuth R (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 6, 2016.