Often when you are diagnosed with a disease there are statistics that will tell you the survival rate. Those statistics can either give you hope or fill you with fear. Infidelity is not a diagnosable disease but recently I wondered:
Can you calculate the five-year survival rate for a couple after infidelity is discovered?
The first thing I discovered when I dove into my research is that there are no concrete statistics and information on infidelity. Infidelity is usually kept private. Many couples are just like my husband and I —anonymous. Infidelity is estimated to affect between 50—80% of marriages. Interesting enough, the statistics are almost even for men and women as the betrayer. I read a few different articles online and it’s very difficult to calculate how many marriages survive an affair. In most states, couples can have a no-fault divorce. In the state I live in, infidelity has no bearing on the divorce proceedings or child custody agreements. I only know that because I looked it up on my D-day. I wanted to know if I could take my children away from my husband if we decided to end our marriage. I look back now and realize how vindictive that thought is but I was hurt, lost and afraid. According to divorce records infidelity is stated as the cause of the end of marriage 17% of the time. Therapists surveyed have stated that infidelity is to blame for divorces as high as 80% of the time. The numbers are all over the place because infidelity is private. One also has to wonder if will couple site infidelity for their divorce if they try to make their marriage work and decide to end their marriage years later.
Many people go will never disclose infidelity occurred in their marriage. It is estimated that 2/3 of spouses will never find out their spouse cheated. I also read that most cheaters will never cheat again. I’m not sure if I believe that statement but it debunks the statement “once a cheater always a cheater.” I question that people only have one affair because I think most people would lie to cover an undetected affair to make themselves look better in the eyes of their spouse and/or anyone else. Although, I’ve also read that when an affair is discovered and the betrayer repents and atones for their mistake then another affair is highly unlikely.
All of these statistics are just numbers. When I started reading about infidelity survival rates it was because someone asked me if I believed my husband and I would make it five years. My reaction was immediate and spontaneous – I said yes, absolutely. Yet, a few weeks later I’m sitting here realizing that the survival of our relationship is not a guarantee.
Infidelity is like a disease in marriage. The instant I discovered my husband’s betrayal I was confused, angry and hurt. I married my husband because I loved him. I believed we were destined for each other and that he would never hurt me. His affair stole my sense of security in our relationship. The person I trusted the most in this world lied, deceived and betrayed me and I was completely unprepared. I look back on this “journey” now and realize that in the beginning I believed that my husband loved me and our marriage could kick infidelity’s ass. I want to silently prove to Bat Shit that she meant nothing. Sex every day of the week signified his commitment to me. I wanted to erase the affair from our life.
Two years later, I have a new view of my marriage and myself. I recognize that I chose my husband and there are likely no stars aligned that pre-destined our relationship. Our relationship has never been perfect but the innocence of my love for my husband pre-affair allowed me to only see the good. Sometimes I wonder if my unflawed view of him clouded my judgment. Maybe that’s how love begins; we cannot see our lover’s weaknesses or our relationship’s flaws. Perfection is unrealistic and unattainable. Two people cannot be perfect in life or for each other. Two years after my D-day I can appreciate the imperfections of my marriage. We are together because we choose to be here, fighting for the survival of our marriage together. Just like being diagnosed with a disease, you can choose to fight for your life or you can accept defeat. Infidelity is not a death sentence.