Popular talk shows imply that everybody intentionally cheats in marriage.
“In reality, most people don’t cheat,” says Kristina Coop Gordon, co-author of Getting Past the Affair. “Based on research, approximately 40 percent of married people cheat on their spouse. Studies indicate the person most likely to cheat is someone who is dissatisfied with their relationship and/or feels insecure about themselves. They use the relationship outside of their marriage as a way to feel better about themselves.”
Some people believe if sex isn’t involved in the external relationship, they weren’t being unfaithful to their spouse. However, Gordon and others such as Dr. Shirley Glass, author of Not Just Friends, disagree.
Being unfaithful to your spouse starts the moment you begin to hide what you are doing with someone else. If you would be uncomfortable with your spouse knowing about your conversations with a co-worker or a regular lunch appointment, or if you work out at a certain time to spend time with someone, then you have probably crossed the line.
Only 10 percent of people who leave their marriage to pursue a relationship with their affair partner actually end up with them. Many say they wish the affair had never happened and that they had worked on their marriage instead.
“It is not uncommon for couples who have experienced infidelity to believe that their marriage is over,” Gordon says. “However, based on 20 years of research we have found that at least 65-70 percent of couples survive the affair.”
For many, this seems impossible. How could trust ever be re-established? Everything believed to be true about the marriage relationship has been destroyed, creating a lot of trauma and questions. The offended spouse often experiences great anxiety and wonders if it will happen again.
“If you are willing to do the soul searching in your marriage, I will just about guarantee your marriage will not only survive, but you will be happy in your marriage,” Gordon says. “In fact, a couple I recently worked with shared that as difficult as the affair was to get through, while they would not want to experience it again or wish it on anyone, they are grateful it happened because it was a real wake up call for their marriage.”
Gordon’s step-by-step guide helps couples dealing with infidelity look at themselves and at their marriage, discover where things derailed and identify steps to get their marriage back on track. A huge piece of the restoration process is forgiveness.
“Some people confuse forgiveness with excusing unacceptable behavior or no accountability,” Gordon says. “This is not true. Forgiveness is very freeing. Just because you forgive, it doesn’t necessarily mean immediate reconciliation. Questions still have to be asked. People have to be willing to look at themselves and acknowledge, ‘I messed up. What caused me to do that?’ Couples willing to do the hard work receive a gift because they learn a lot about themselves, their spouse and their marriage.”
A couple who used Gordon’s book to help them heal from an affair said, “The affair is one layer of our relationship. It is a painful, awful, yucky layer. We are continuing to weave our relationship and lay so many more layers on top of that layer that it will be just one line in the many layers of our marriage.”