Happily married but cheating

Why Do Happily Married Men Cheat on the Wives They Love?

While women do cheat, the fact is men cheat more than women. It may come as cold comfort to women scorned, but they don’t seem to do so with the same intention as women. Cheaters, specifically repeat cheaters, tend to be opportunistic and capable of emotional compartmentalization. Why do men cheat? Some may cheat because they are unsatisfied, but, as a rule, men don’t cheat because they are unhappy. Men cheat because they think they can get away with it and because they’re willing to let themselves get away with it. Cheating is, strangely, a behavior that can make it hard to be a good father and husband, but also a behavior that isn’t actually correlated with familial love or care.

“They think, well, I just did this but in every other way I’m reliable, I’m responsible, I’m committed, I show up, I’m a really good guy. It’s just the cheating,” Robert Weiss, a therapist and author of Out of the Doghouse: A Step-by-Step Relationship-Saving Guide for Men Caught Cheating. “What they don’t understand is that women don’t think that way.”


In his experience counseling couples who’ve been devastated by infidelity, Weiss has found that despite being stereotypically seen as good at fixing things, men are almost universally terrible at repairing the damage done by cheating. Because the sex didn’t mean much to them and was simply available, they severely underestimate how devastating their behavior might be to their partner. For men who don’t come clean or get caught, repeat offenses are the product of the same mentality: It’s just sex.

Approximately 20 percent of men admit to cheating, compared to 13 percent of women, according to the General Social Survey. Fathers may cheat more. Estimates suggest around 10 percent of expecting fathers cheat on their pregnant wives, and there’s reason to believe a man’s resistance to temptation is stronger when he’s newly married and having a bunch of sex in the kitchen in front of his new appliances then when his partner’s interest is declining. While women tend to cheat up, bedding potentially more suitable mates, men cheat down and all around.

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Unlike men who cheat chronically as a result of deeper-rooted attachment disorders and sex addictions, healthy men who cheat occasionally are not pathological, they’re immature, Weiss says, adding, “Most men fall somewhere in the middle between being absolutely faithful and having cheated once, realizing it was immature and learning from it.”

The good news is that most men don’t need to cheat to understand the hurt it may cause to their partner — that can be accomplished through healthy, and more important, continued communication about trust, intimacy, and opportunities for temptation as they arise.

Weiss recalls one man who came to him in a counseling session expressing the urge to cheat with a colleague, and he advised him to treat his marriage as a contract. If he wanted to have sex with another person, he’d need to discuss it with his wife first in order to renegotiate terms. When he did, he saw the pain it would cause her before doing it, rather than retroactively — and guess what? He never cheated. To Weiss, only that level of maturity and consideration can keep men from cheating.


“To be able to put your spouse so fully out of mind that you can do something that you know would hurt them and you do it anyway. A mature person keeps their partner in mind wherever they are.”

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Many people having affairs consider themselves to be ‘happily’ married

OPINION: Here’s an unexpected side effect of being a relationships writer: people talk to me about their relationships.

I’m like a Jewish female priest; I am forever taking confessions. I’ve gained insights into the marriages of strangers and heard endless stories of affairs.

And let me tell you: there are a lot of affairs. Infidelity is rife. Pretty much everyone has cheated, or been cheated on, or been the confidante of someone who has.

Frequently, when I hear someone discuss their own infidelity, they’ve included a rationale.

* Why I am cheating on my partner
* Cheating doesn’t have to kill a relationship; here’s how to survive it
* Private eye explains how to spot a cheating partner

My wife doesn’t appreciate me, they say (and yes, they really do say that, it’s not just in the movies), or my husband neglects me. It’s their justification, their reasoning, the explanation for seeking comfort outside the marriage.

It makes sense. Marriage is tough, particularly after the first few loved up years, and when people are not getting intimacy in their primary relationship, they may seek it elsewhere.

UNSPLASH There’s a reason why people have affairs that has nothing to do with the quality of their marriages – affairs feel good. (File photo)

But there’s another story I hear, not quite as frequently, but regularly. I love my spouse. There’s nothing wrong with my marriage. I just like to have sex with other people.

In other words, there is a reason that people have affairs that has nothing to do with the quality of their marriages.

Affairs feel good.


Famed relationship expert Esther Perel has written extensively about happily married philanderers and has written about it in the Atlantic.

It’s hard to estimate how many cheating partners are happy in their marriages, but a new statistic can give us a rough idea. Extramarital dating service Ashley Madison (the “affair website”) asked users whether they regretted their infidelity (nearly 90 per cent said they did not) and if they regretted marrying their spouse. Whilst 63 per cent of respondents said that they would not marry their spouse again, given the chance, the remaining 37 per cent of users reported that they would.

In other words, over a third of Ashley Madison members – people who are actively seeking affairs on the internet – consider themselves to be happily married.

Elisabeth Shaw, CEO of Relationships Australia NSW, believes this statistic is accurate. She sees “a lot of people who fight very hard to keep their relationship” after an affair is uncovered, and many who manage to do so.

What’s more, she explains, a large proportion of affairs are opportunistic and/or work related. There are certainly married people who troll for sex online (I nod; I’ve seen a few of them on Tinder), but many people fall into unplanned liaisons with work colleagues or friends.


It seems that many people who have affairs consider themselves to be happily married, which is concerning for those who seek to “affair-proof” their relationships (and the websites and books that promise to show you how).

But wait! There’s a twist.

Even when adulterers report having problems in their marriages, the issues may be far less severe than they report, or even think.

“What you generally see in infidelity,” explains Shaw, “is that in order to manage the tension about what you’re doing to your spouse, you need to do a lot of psychological gymnastics to make it OK.”

123RF Rather than deal with problems in their relationships, some people use those issues to validate their cheating behaviour.

People who are having affairs will often nurse their resentments and dissatisfactions in order to validate their own behaviour.

“Instead of taking their complaints to their partner so that they can work on the relationship, they watch their partner fail them, then use this as the fuel to justify their affair.”


So where does this leave monogamy? Should we all just embrace non-monogamy and give up the fidelity ghost?

Well, Ashley Madison certainly wants us to, but Shaw is a little more circumspect.

“Monogamy is not the only way forward,” she says. “But the difference between non-monogamy and infidelity is the transparency. One is agreed upon and the other is not.”

And, of course, even consensual non-monogamy is fraught. You can be honest with each other and the other people involved, but you cannot control other people’s feelings. Sex partners develop emotional connections, feelings get hurt, boundaries need to be negotiated … It all sounds rather exhausting.

So what’s the answer? Well, if Perel and Shaw don’t have it, then I certainly don’t either. I do suspect, however, that honesty is a good start. And that maybe, just maybe, we all need to calm down a bit about infidelity.

But feel free to send me your thoughts. The Jewish female priest is in session.

Sydney Morning Herald

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A happy marriage can now include cheating, according to cheaters

Human sexuality is an ever-unfolding mystery, but two new books aim to shed some light on it. Here, psychiatrist Kenneth Rosenberg, author of “Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat” (Da Capo Press), and physician Erika Schwartz, author of “The Intimacy Solution” (Post Hill Press), share some surprising facts and figures about sex, love and divorce.

If your partner cheats, you’ll probably never know

“Ninety percent of people who cheat — their spouses never find out about it,” says Rosenberg. He also notes a reason why infidelity can be hard to detect: 50 percent of those who cheat say they’re happy in their marriage.

More and more women are cheating

Two decades ago, roughly 10 percent of married women cheated, but that number has increased to 15 percent. “Women increasingly have options, and feel both sexual agency and social freedoms,” says Rosenberg.

But divorce is on the wane

Schwartz notes that the divorce rate among couples under age 50 has steadily declined since 2009. She credits this to the younger generation being more realistic about long-term relationships and the fleeting nature of passion. “ more honest with themselves,” she says.

Men go through ‘the change,’ too

Andropause — the male version of menopause characterized by a gradual decline in testosterone starting in the early 40s — shares some behavioral similarities to its female counterpart. Along with a diminished libido, “It’s like a decline in emotional depth,” says Schwartz. “They become depressed … couch potatoes, sitting at home and drinking beer.”

Why Happy Couples Cheat

“I love my wife. We are friends, but I am cheating on her.”

This husband represents a number of people, who are not in unhappy marriages, but still have an affair. Their partners are not problematic, yet they cheat. This doesn’t fit our idea that only people in bad marriages are unfaithful. Something has to be wrong with the partner or marriage. Surprisingly, this not always hold true. Cheating can happen even in the confines of a happy marriage.

Regardless of the cause of an affair, cheating is destructive to a relationship. It is a betrayal, a breach of sacred trust and covenant, and extremely painful once revealed. Despite the havoc an affair creates, people still do it. One reason has to do with fact that cheating is a self-seeking act, usually accompanied by a feeling of entitlement to have passion or love. When marriage doesn’t deliver a regular dose of felt passion and love, a partner goes outside the marriage. The thought is, “I can find this part of myself that seems to be missing.”

The partner is unsettled, missing something in themselves and struggling with their own identity. They think passion will bring them alive again, empower them, and bring a better sense of self. This self-discovery lands them in the arms of another, a boundary they never thought they would cross. Of course, it ultimately does not work. You don’t discover yourself apart from your significant other. That is a myth, but one the cultural promotes.

Affairs are not real life. You don’t have to deal with crying babies, sick children, trips to the dentists, and more. You can escape and avoid your life in a world you have created.

Cheating involves secrecy, hiding, excitement, and adventure. For a moment, you can reinvent yourself and act out adolescent rebellion. The forbidden fruit is hanging and you get caught up in desire. Curiosity is raised. You add the person to Facebook. Secret messages are sent. Your passion and desire are aroused because it is new and adventurous. You are taking risks, being vulnerable, bucking the rules, and taking your freedom. It’s reckless because you think the rules don’t apply to you. In order to do all of this, you have to dissociate your real life and enter an alternative reality that doesn’t include your partner. If you allowed yourself to think of your partner, it would be too painful to continue the cheating.

Cheating is about a desire for attention, to feel special, and important. It is a desire to be desired. And, I would add this relates to a spiritual void in most people. It was the original temptation. Eve desired the fruit and wisdom. She wanted to be like God instead of allowing God to fill all her desires. She wanted more and would not be content where she was. She was enticed by forbidden fruit.

Cheating happens in happy marriages because a person thinks they want someone they can’t have. It brings novelty, adventure, and a passion that ebbs and flows in committed relationships. It’s adventure for a bored and restless person. But, cheating can destroy a relationship and bring heartache to someone you love. So, before you give in to desire, thinking this will fix something inside you, ask, “Is this really a solution to my identity struggles? Do I want to possibly throw away a good thing for a temporary adventure? Do I fill the void I feel with something that is temporary and will eventually wear off?”

Esther Perel, a relationship therapist, discusses on why happy couples cheat at TED conference…

MP3 Audio:


YouTube Video:

Esther Perel – Relationship therapist

Why do we cheat? And why do happy people cheat? And when we say infidelity, what exactly do we mean? Is it a hookup, a love story, paid sex, a chat room, a massage with happy endings? Why do we think that men cheat out of boredom and fear of intimacy, but women cheat out of loneliness and hunger for intimacy? And is an affair always the end of a relationship?

For the past 10 years, I have traveled the globe and worked extensively with hundreds of couples who have been shattered by infidelity. There is one simple act of transgression that can rob a couple from their relationship, their happiness and their very identity: an affair. And yet, this extremely common act is so poorly understood. So this talk is for anyone who has ever loved.

Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, and so, too, the taboo against it. In fact, infidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy, so much so, that this is the only commandment that is repeated twice in the Bible: once for doing it, and once just for thinking about it. So how do we reconcile what is universally forbidden, yet universally practiced?

Now, throughout history, men practically had a license to cheat with little consequence, and supported by a host of biological and evolutionary theories that justified their need to roam, so the double standard is as old as adultery itself. But who knows what’s really going on under the sheets there, right? Because when it comes to sex, the pressure for men is to boast and to exaggerate, but the pressure for women is to hide, minimize and deny, which isn’t surprising when you consider that there are still nine countries where women can be killed for straying.

Now, monogamy used to be one person for life. Today, monogamy is one person at a time.

I mean, many of you probably have said, “I am monogamous in all my relationships.”

We used to marry, and had sex for the first time. But now we marry, and we stop having sex with others. The fact is that monogamy had nothing to do with love. Men relied on women’s fidelity in order to know whose children these are, and who gets the cows when I die.

Now, everyone wants to know what percentage of people cheat. I’ve been asked that question since I arrived at this conference. It applies to you. But the definition of infidelity keeps on expanding: sexting, watching porn, staying secretly active on dating apps. So because there is no universally agreed-upon definition of what even constitutes an infidelity, estimates vary widely, from 26% to 75%. But on top of it, we are walking contradictions. So 95% of us will say that it is terribly wrong for our partner to lie about having an affair, but just about the same amount of us will say that that’s exactly what we would do if we were having one.

Now, I like this definition of an affair — it brings together the three key elements: a secretive relationship, which is the core structure of an affair; an emotional connection to one degree or another; and a sexual alchemy. And alchemy is the keyword here, because the erotic frisson is such that the kiss that you only imagine giving, can be as powerful and as enchanting as hours of actual lovemaking. As Marcel Proust said, it’s our imagination that is responsible for love, not the other person.

So it’s never been easier to cheat, and it’s never been more difficult to keep a secret. And never has infidelity exacted such a psychological toll. When marriage was an economic enterprise, infidelity threatened our economic security. But now that marriage is a romantic arrangement, infidelity threatens our emotional security. Ironically, we used to turn to adultery — that was the space where we sought pure love. But now that we seek love in marriage, adultery destroys it.

Now, there are three ways that I think infidelity hurts differently today. We have a romantic ideal in which we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs: to be my greatest lover, my best friend, the best parent, my trusted confidant, my emotional companion, my intellectual equal. And I am it: I’m chosen, I’m unique, I’m indispensable, I’m irreplaceable, I’m the one. And infidelity tells me I’m not. It is the ultimate betrayal. Infidelity shatters the grand ambition of love. But if throughout history, infidelity has always been painful, today it is often traumatic, because it threatens our sense of self.

So my patient Fernando, he’s plagued. He goes on: “I thought I knew my life. I thought I knew who you were, who we were as a couple, who I was. Now, I question everything.” Infidelity — a violation of trust, a crisis of identity. “Can I ever trust you again?” he asks. “Can I ever trust anyone again?”

And this is also what my patient Heather is telling me, when she’s talking to me about her story with Nick. Married, two kids. Nick just left on a business trip, and Heather is playing on his iPad with the boys, when she sees a message appear on the screen: “Can’t wait to see you.” Strange, she thinks, we just saw each other. And then another message: “Can’t wait to hold you in my arms.” And Heather realizes these are not for her. She also tells me that her father had affairs, but her mother, she found one little receipt in the pocket, and a little bit of lipstick on the collar. Heather, she goes digging, and she finds hundreds of messages, and photos exchanged and desires expressed. The vivid details of Nick’s two-year affair unfold in front of her in real time, and it made me think: Affairs in the digital age are death by a thousand cuts.

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The Reasons Why Married Women Cheat on Their Husbands

It’s not something most people want to face, talk about, or even consider. But the truth is that even in the happiest marriages, infidelity can take place, affairs can happen. Loneliness plays a role. So do boredom and alcohol. Maybe a close relationship with a colleague goes too far during a long night at the office. Or an unexpected fling occurs on a vacation with friends. Maybe, it’s a longer-running situation, where a spouse turns to someone to fill a physical or emotional void left unfilled by their spouses. The fact of the matter is that infidelity is not surprising. What is surprising is that more women are doing the cheating.


“We have this idea socially that men are cheaters, all men are susceptible to cheating, that men are dogs, right?” says Alicia M. Walker, an associate professor of sociology at Missouri State University. “But the data tells a very different story.”

What Walker noticed from working on her book, The Secret Life of the Cheating Wife: Power, Pragmatism, and Pleasure in Women’s Infidelity, is that women are cheating at least the same rates as men. The cheating wife is not an anomaly. And, depending on the age group and behavior, sometimes cheating women outpace cheating men. “Way more women are cheating than we think,” she says. “We just don’t like to talk about it and we don’t like to think about it. You don’t want to think that your neighbor, your Sunday school teacher, or your friend is doing this. But the reality is, you know a woman who’s cheating, you just don’t know that she is.”

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Why Do Women Cheat?

So why do women cheat? The answer is as complicated as one might imagine. Walker makes clear, there’s no one specific reason for infidelity. Some women cheat to avoid boredom; other women cheat because they feel neglected. Still others say it’s because they want to.

“A lot of the time the reasons are physical, sometimes they’re emotional, and, sometimes, as much as we don’t want to admit this or know this, sometimes it’s just a matter of somebody having an opportunity,” says Walker. “There’s a lot of data showing that a woman will have an affair with a coworker and are more likely to report that ‘My marriage is great and I’m super satisfied. I literally saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.’”


The notion of the cheating wife is something that tends to be swept under the rug mostly because it goes against everything that we as a culture have been conditioned to think about women. “We want to think of women as not particularly sexual unless they’re deeply in love or they’re married or in some monogamous relationship of some kind. We just don’t want to think that women are just as sexual and just as interested in having sex with multiple partners or a variety of partners or they get bored with marital sex.”

What to Do About Cheating in Marriage

Given the emotional and financial tolls of cheating (not to even mention their impact on children which is bigger still), rethinking our preconceptions about female infidelity is only the beginning. Open minds are important, but communication is paramount. All relationships need to begin with honest conversations about sex, preferably before marriage.

“Something that some of the women in my study brought up that I never thought about was that when they were searching for an affair partner, they were having these candid, frank discussions about sexual compatibility and sexual preferences,” says Walker. “When I got married, I never had any of these conversations, and I started thinking, ‘You know, that’s true, we don’t have those conversations.’ We kind of wander into these romantic pairings and we fall in love and we kind of think that the sex is going to take care of itself. But, according to the data, that’s not true.”


Part of those frank discussions is being open to what your spouse is interested in. A lot of the women Walker interviewed said that when they talked openly about their fantasies or desires to their husbands, they were met with disgust and made to feel ashamed.

“It was really pretty sobering, to be honest with you,” Walker says. “This is a person who’s pledged to love you for all time and you say to them, ‘Hey, I want to try role-playing,’ or whatever it is, and then think about having the person that you love and trust the most say, ‘That’s disgusting. What’s wrong with you?’ If you listen to that for years, and then in walks somebody who’s not only like, ‘That’s not disgusting,’ but they’re into it, you can see how attractive that would be.”

Infidelity Versus Open Marriages

In conducting her research, Walker was surprised to learn that a lot of the women that she interviewed were interested in the prospect of an open marriage.


“They don’t want to leave their husband, they love their husband, they’ve got a great life, but what they really want is variety in their sexual partners,” she says. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, I want my husband, and I want this one affair,’ it’s: ‘I want my husband and I want to taste all the parts of the menu!’”

Additionally, she discovered that women who cheat see it as an exercise in power. The socially accepted norm when it comes to coupling is that the man asks the woman out, the man pays for dinner, the man proposes marriage. While the ideas behind these traditions may be chivalrous, Walker says that the women she spoke to eventually felt confined by them.

“They always felt like they had been chosen, rather than choosing themselves,” she says. “And then they go online to Ashley Madison, or any other site, and there are all these men, and now they’re choosing rather than being chosen.”

In the end, attentiveness is the key. When you’re with your spouse, Walker says it’s vital to make sure you’re thinking of her needs as well as your own.


“Any man who is concerned about this,” she says, “you should really start looking at your own behavior in the bedroom and really make sure that you’re holding up your end of the table. Because, if you’re not, there’s somebody out there who’s more than willing to do that.”

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The Real Reason Why Happy People Cheat

Cheating is something that couples deal with more often than we’d ever expect. But it happens, and most would consider it the worst form of betrayal. It can easily be blamed on a flawed marriage, a lack of love, etc. But what about marriages that are seemingly perfect? The truth is, happy people also cheat. And one therapist believes she’s discovered why (check out page 4).

Infidelity is viewed differently around the world

What constitutes cheating may be different based on what culture you’re in. | iStock.com

In the United States, infidelity is a reason to leave a relationship. But in other parts of the country, it’s upsetting but not destroying. Therapist Esther Perel wrote in her essay for The Atlantic that she spoke with women all around the world about their thoughts on what infidelity meant to their relationship.

In Paris, cheating was a sensitive subject that quite a few women had been involved in (on one side or the other). In Bulgaria, women saw cheating as “unfortunate but inevitable.” And in Mexico, women were more empowered today than they had ever been to stand up to the men who cheat. But it’s not always the men who cheat in this modernized Western world.

Next: Cheating doesn’t always mean this.

Cheating does not always signal an unhappy marriage

Does an affair really mean it’s over? | LuckyBusiness/iStock/Getty Images

The most difficult thing with cheating is trying to understand why it happened. Yes, there are some marriages that are in serious distress and lead people to stray. But some spouses are incredibly happy — and claim to be in love — but still cheat. In Perel’s article, she describes counseling a young woman who was in the middle of an affair but had nothing bad to say about her husband or marriage. And that’s where it gets difficult to pinpoint the cause of an affair. If things seem perfect, why cheat?

Next: Marriage isn’t what it used to be.

The concept of ‘marriage’ has changed through the years — and so have our thoughts on infidelity

Marriage and cheating isn’t what it used to be. | Digital Vision/iStock/Getty Images

Marriage is not what it used to be. Years ago, marriage was about economic stability and reproducing rather than finding lifelong love with a partner. But today, people expect all that and more. And when infidelity does occur, it’s often the biggest betrayal possible in a marriage because there was so much packed into one partnership. People used to stray because they were not married for love and didn’t have free reign over who their spouse would be. But in this modern day, we have the ability to choose our partner and fall in love, yet cheating still exists. And because of that, it has become something so destroying that many marriages don’t last once infidelity occurs.

Next: Here’s why happy people cheat.

Happy people sometimes consider affairs to be a form of ‘self-discovery’

Could being with someone new help you find yourself? | Zinkevych/iStock/Getty ImagesA

The reason happy people cheat could be one thing: self-discovery. It might not have anything to do with their partner or the marriage. In Perel’s article, the woman she was working with had a seemingly perfect life, but it hadn’t always been that way. She didn’t let loose as a child or ever explore her sexual options. She married young and worked full time to help support her family. And although her family was tight-knit, something was still missing, which Perel believes is the reason she strayed with a man she’d never consider a life partner — she merely wanted to explore another option.

Next: The reasons for cheating vary, but the root does not.

The reasons for cheating might differ, but they often involve self-discovery

Taking care of yourself is always the most important thing. | OJO Images/iStock/Getty Images

The particular reason why happy people cheat might vary from one person to another, but self-discovery can often be the root cause — even if people don’t realize it at the time. When Perel asks her clients why they cheat, they often say they don’t know. But after delving into their pasts, it sometimes becomes clear: They’re searching for a new version of themselves — a version that they once had and lost or were never able to find.

Next: The real reason for cheating is usually overlooked because of this.

Cheating often involves something called the ‘streetlight effect’

Maybe there was something wrong in the relationship all along. | Dima_sidelnikov/iStock/Getty images

The streetlight effect is the idea that we search for an answer in the easiest spot rather than where it might actually be — the same way a drunk person would search for their lost keys under a streetlight rather than in the darkness, where they might actually be. When affairs are found out, the partner who was cheated on always takes it personally. This is likely because it’s easier for the cheater to blame a failed marriage as the reason rather than search within themselves for the actual reason. But with self-discovery, it usually has nothing to do with the other person.

Next: Modern technology makes cheating easier.

Social media is playing a big role

More and more people cheat online. | AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty images

It’s easier to reconnect with old flames now than it ever was before. All it takes is a simple friend request to either reconnect with someone from the past or get to know someone new. Even high-profile people are not immune to cheating via social media. And with more people joining Facebook and Instagram, the social media cheating likely won’t subside any time soon. Perel explained that she has seen many people who have cheated after reconnecting with past romances on websites like Facebook.

Next: In Perel’s article, she stresses this.

But marriages are still salvageable, even after infidelity

Talking to a therapist may help. | AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images

Although Perel stresses that she does not condone affairs, she does say that just because an affair occurs does not mean the marriage is doomed. But instead of burying the past, she encourages couples to rebuild their relationship from it. She explains in her article that it does take a strong marriage to be able to come back from something like that, but it’s possible. The most important thing is not burying the affair or creating a “don’t ask, don’t tell” vibe in the relationship. It’s about opening up about the affair and starting brand new after it.

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About a dozen sessions later, my friend came away with critical insights: “I know I’m not perfect. I was very focused on taking care of my son, and my husband wasn’t getting from me whatever he needed. Everybody should be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. We learned how to talk to each other and really listen. I love him and respect him, I’m so happy we didn’t split apart. He’s a wonderful father, a stimulating partner, and while our marriage isn’t perfect — whose is? — we are supportive and nurturing of each other. Working through the affair made us stronger.”

As happened with my friend, most affairs result from dissatisfaction with the marital relationship, fueled by temptation and opportunity. One partner may spend endless hours and days on work, household chores, outside activities or even social media, to the neglect of their spouse’s emotional and sexual needs. Often betrayed partners were unaware of what was lacking in the relationship and did not suspect that trouble was brewing.

Or the problem may result from a partner’s personal issues, like an inability to deal with conflict, a fear of intimacy, deep-seated insecurity or changes in life circumstances that rob the marital relationship of the attention and affection that once sustained it.

But short of irreversible incompatibility or physical or emotional abuse, with professional counseling and a mutual willingness to preserve the marriage, therapists maintain that couples stand a good chance of overcoming the trauma of infidelity and avoiding what is often the more painful trauma of divorce.

Ms. Weiner-Davis points out that “except in the most severe cases such as ongoing physical abuse or addiction,” divorce often creates more problems than it solves, an observation that prompted her to write her first book, “Divorce Busting.”

Ms. Weiner-Davis readily admits that recovering from infidelity is hard work and the process cannot be rushed. Yet, as she wrote in her new book, “many clients have shared that had it not been for their partner’s affair, they’d never have looked at, discussed, and healed some of the underlying issues that were broken at the foundation of their relationship.”

Rather than destroying the marriage, the affair acted as a catalyst for positive changes, Ms. Weiner-Davis maintains. In her new book, she outlines tasks for both the betrayed spouse and the unfaithful one that can help them better understand and meet the emotional and physical needs of their partners.