Can an affair save your marriage?

For many people finding out your partner has cheated on you would be an absolute deal breaker. Once a cheater always a cheater, right?

Once trust is broken it can be hard to rebuild. But according to relationship counsellor and sex therapist Matty Silver, it doesn’t have to necessarily mean the end of a relationship.

Here, the author of Sex Down Under explains to Yahoo Lifestyle why for some people an affair actually ends up having the opposite effect.

Couple having problems in relationship due to infidelity
What if an affair didn't have to mean the end? Photo: Getty

Why do people have affairs?

Experiencing infidelity in a relationship can be hurtful and damaging and the immediate response after discovering a partner's affair is usually a combination of disbelief, anger, sadness and grief.

There is a rather unforgiving attitude towards infidelity in Australia, which I believe is damaging and driving couples to divorce and children to suffer. Several European countries have more accepting attitudes and have lower divorce rates.

People usually don't have affairs with the intention of hurting their partner, but the result is mostly extremely painful.

Woman touching the wedding ring on her finger nervously while having coffee and waiting in cafe
Many relationships break down over an affair. Photo: Getty

The reality is that staying faithful to one person in a relationship can be difficult and challenging. However, a large percentage of affairs are not just about sex. Both men and women often start affairs because they don't feel appreciated by their partners; they feel neglected or ignored and may crave intimacy.

They enjoy the feeling of being wanted, needed and desired, and often are looking more for an emotional connection rather than just a sexual one.

When people feel trapped in a routine, when there isn't much joy and fun anymore in a relationship, an affair can be an escape.

Romance in the relationship may be missing. Many believe that women more often complain about lack of romance, but men feel it, too.

Why an affair could actually save your marriage

Nowadays some therapists believe there are times when an affair can rescue a marriage or relationship and can even make it stronger.

Close up of the legs of a couple on the bed.
Finding out the cause of the affair could actually be positive. Photo: Getty

Starting to understand an affair and how it happened can help provide clarity and give answers to the many questions a couple may feel are still unanswered.

This is not about assigning blame, but a time to deconstruct the affair and find out where the roots of the infidelity started, so they can make decisions on how their relationship can go forward.

Sometimes the relationship can even become stronger.

"Once a cheater, always a cheater" is an understandable response from anyone who has been betrayed.

The problem is that it's too simple and fails to appreciate the complexity of why people cheat in the first place, let alone predicting whether or not they are capable of betraying you again

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