Could admitting infidelity save your marriage?

Relationships|April 23rd 2014

Could admitting infidelity to your spouse really be the best way to save your marriage? A new study in the US has suggested as much.

The study, by researchers from UCLA and the University of Washington, claims to have found a significantly lower divorce rate in couples where infidelity had been admitted than in couples where infidelity was kept secret.

134 married couples featured in the five year study to examine the effectiveness of various kinds of therapy when infidelity has taken place.

Nineteen of those couples experienced infidelity by one or both partners before or during the course of the study.

Forty-three per cent of couples sampled who experienced infidelity and came clean ended up getting a divorce, compared to the 80 per cent of couples who concealed infidelity from their spouse.

The researchers claim that not only did couples who admitted infidelity have a better chance at staying married, neither relationship satisfaction nor marital stability differed from couples where no infidelity had taken place at all.

The researchers wrote:

“When an infidelity is confessed as opposed to discovered, both partners may be more willing to work on restoring the marital relationship.”

They added:

“Infidelity does not have to be the end of the relationship. It is clear that couples are able to work through an infidelity, restore their relationship, and enjoy a stable and satisfying marital relationship.”

Despite the findings of this study, I have serious doubts. My professional experience indicates the opposite is true.

Once a party becomes aware of adultery, trust is lost and the marriage breaks down not because of the adultery necessarily but the loss of trust between the couple.

I have also found that where couples agree to forgive and forget, it still gets thrown up in arguments and sours the marriage and even years later, it surfaces as the reason for the breakdown.

In a lot of cases, the partner who has been cheated on may end up cheating themselves, either as a way to get back at their spouse or simply because the trust in the relationship has gone.

Either way, the marriage has broken down and in the cases we get to see, irretrievably so.

Do remember that in English law, adultery AND it being intolerable to continue to live with your spouse, is one way to prove that a marriage has irretrievably broken down and is grounds for immediate divorce, providing the petition is filed within six months of finding out about it. If you continue to live together thereafter you could have “condoned” it and cannot use it to obtain a divorce.

Photo by Wayan Vota via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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