It Takes More Than Listicles to Save a Marriage Following Infidelity

Save a Marriage Following Infidelity

Google it. In 38 of a second, Google returns over a half-million search results about how to save a marriage after a spouse has cheated.

Over 80 percent are listicles:

  • 13 Ways to Pull Him Back Into Your Bed
  • 12 Ways to Hide the Body After He Cheated
  • 27 Things You Should Know to Repair the Relationship

…and so on.

Internet users’ penchant for brief, easy-to-read, dumbed down presentations has reduced the complexities of relationships to a listicle to be read while brushing teeth.

Life isn’t that simple.

Dr. Billy and Ruth Graham

As they marked their 50th wedding anniversary with friends, Ruth Graham, wife of legendary evangelist Billy Graham, was asked if she had ever felt like divorcing him.

Ms. Graham looked the questioner straight in the eye and said, “Murder yes. Divorce never.”

Woven in her humorous answer lies a profound truth. Marriage can be the most beautiful of relationships. It can also be the ugliest, dirt-stained of unions.

More often, it is some mixture of both.

Although Ms. Graham took her secrets to the grave, we can probably assume that marital infidelity wasn’t a part of their relationship.

With over half of marriages experiencing infidelity on the part of one — or both — parties at some time during the relationship, the Internet has sprung to life with updated accounts of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” But don’t waste your time.

As much as we may like to believe that saving a marriage is little more than a listicle, the truth is that it will take hard work — very hard — to get past infidelity. Sometimes couples never make it past. Some marriages need  a burial.

Marriage can survive

Marriage can survive infidelity. Remember some hard truths, though:

  • It isn’t easy
  • It will hurt
  • There will be anger and tears
  • It will take time to trust again
  • It will require the cheater to take responsibility
  • It will require the “victim” to take responsibility as well
  • It will take courage

Most marriage counselors have seen marriages that not only survived infidelity but became healthier. If both partners are willing to obtain and utilize the skills needed to make their marriage work, then a marriage can survive an affair.

Facts about cheating

A Rutgers University study found that over 55 percent of men who have affairs say they are happy in their marriages. They discover themselves in bed with other women.

  • Men tend to cheat with women they know

Cheaters don’t usually pick strangers in bars. A lot of females believe that every cheating females is a tramp — not so. The relationships are usually friendships first.

  • Men cheat to save their marriage

Men love their wives, but they don’t know how to fix problems in the relationship; they go outside their marriage look for solutions.

  • Men hate themselves after affairs

Often people think that men who cheat are men without morals. While they make like what they did, they usually despise themselves when the affair is over.

  • Women cheat just as often as men

Men and women cheat at the equivalent rate; it’s just the reasons that differ. Women are more apt to cheat for emotional fulfillment. Becoming invested emotionally in another person indicates you have checked out of your marriage. If it’s just sex, it’s less about attachment, though.

  • A wife knows her husband is cheating

A lady usually knows when their husbands are stepping out; the just can’t bear to acknowledge it.

Infidelity doesn’t have to be the death of a couple. While a new relationship can be exciting, an affair can rekindle the marriage. However, think long before returning to a cheater. Flings often highlight how little self-control someone has.

  • The wife is not to blame

If your husband is unfaithful, it isn’t your fault — no matter what people say. The thought of being pushed into another woman’s arms is an expression and not reality. Men do not cheat because of who their wife is; they cheat because of who they aren’t.

  • Some marriages should be tossed in the trash

Can you really save a marriage after a mean cycle of infidelity? Some marriages should not be saved; they just aren’t meant to be salvaged. If the infidelity is a sign of domestic violence or emotional abuse, bury the relationship and move on.

It is challenging for the “victim” to know if they should give the cheater a second chance. If the infidelity was a one-time thing, that is different than a serial cheater. If they have a pattern of continually cheating, then it could be time to toss in the towel.

Once a determination is made that a marriage can be — and should be saved — the hard work starts. It takes professional help to work through the anger, rage and other raw emotions that follow an affair.

It doesn’t take a listicle.






Jerry Nelson is an American writer and photojournalist and  is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email him at and join the million-or-so who follow him on Twitter @ Journey_America.