Do affairs last?

Do affairs ever really last? Statistically speaking, the odds are stacked against them. 1 to 3 affairs out of 100 end up in a marriage, and of these, 75% will eventually end in divorce. The chances that the affair will last are extremely small. There are many reasons that affairs don’t last. In my work with couples and individuals whose marriages have survived affairs, I have learned two key “affair” principles.

The first reality is that seed that is planted in bad soil, can’t grow in a healthy manner. Relationships that start amidst lies, deception, sneaking and shame tend to stay stuck in this unhealthy realm. Regardless of the reasons the individuals give for having the affair, the reality is that the affair relationship has roots in deception and lies.

The second “affair ”principle is that affairs tend to be rooted in fantasy. The fantasy is that this person who I am having an affair with is the person who is going to make my life perfect. Frequently I hear from people who are in affairs, “This person is my true soul mate”. The challenge with this is that it is a statement that is rooted in a fantasy. It is may be exciting, it may be fun but it is not real. And statistically speaking, it is not sustainable. The fantasy gets perpetuated because frequently the affair partners have no joint responsibilities. Bills, child rearing, and other family responsibilities are relegated to their spouses as the affair couple lives in Disney World. It is an unsustainable fantasy.

A better strategy to find your true soul mate is to create a marital environment where your spouse becomes your soul mate. I recently had the opportunity to work with a couple whose relationship has experienced the pain and trauma of an affair. The husband’s affair had clearly taken a toll on the relationship and yet both of them were able to report that the affair was the catalyst that has helped them create the marriage of their dreams.

It has not been an easy road, but they will both tell you that the road has been far easier than a divorce. Their family is intact, their children are happy and healthy and they are both deeply in love with each other. The wife shared with me that she is so glad that she did not give up on her husband. He shared that it was her unconditional love that brought him back. If your spouse is having an affair, be assured it will end. Stay the course and don’t give up on your marriage. Be patient and wait, and like my friends, you will be glad that love had the final word.