Can a marriage survive infidelity?

Can a marriage survive an affair_

By Robin May

As the Body of Christ we can either bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we don’t face the same challenges as non-believers, or we can deal with the facts but respond with the truth. The fact is that just like Non-Christian marriages, Christian couples also deal with the pain of infidelity in their marriage. But the truth is that there is no valley that God can’t bring us out of, no matter how tough it seems.

The question is often asked “can a marriage really survive infidelity”? My response is yes! It can actually not just survive infidelity; it can actually thrive after an affair.  But survival (or thrival – Clearly not a word, but just flow with me), doesn’t come without a cost or without a fight.  If your marriage has suffered from the wound of infidelity, it will require a commitment from both parties to do a 180 degree turn to restore the relationship.  But! Here is the good news for those who confess Christ! You don’t have to do it alone! You have the supernatural power of God on your side and we already know that He majors in bringing dead things back to life!

So what do you do! Here are the practical steps that you need to take if you want to start the journey towards restoration.

If you or your spouse have been unfaithful and you are both serious about restoration, start by closing ranks but not isolating. In other words as angry or hurt as you may be, be careful about venting to the people in your life. The people who love you also want to protect you. But their desire to protect you may not mean protecting your marriage. As you are trying to decide how you want to move forward, you want to make sure that you aren’t being impacted by those who mean well, but aren’t skilled to support you in the most effective way.

BUT at the same time you do not want to isolate! You and your spouse should not try and navigate the restoration journey by yourselves. The common refrain is “I don’t want folks in my business” but isolation is dangerous. Be prayerful and seek support from someone (preferably a professional) that you can both trust! You may also need a personal friend or confident, but again, be careful and make sure the person wants what God wants for you above all.

The next step is to try your best to stop any further damage. Immediately after an affair is found out the injured party (the person who was cheated on) may feel a strong desire to retaliate. And even if that retaliation doesn’t include infidelity, they may want to hurt that person in some other way.  These emotions are normal and at some point voicing and processing them will be necessary. But without guidance, the emotional response and then defensive response that may come from the person who cheated, only serves to do further damage.  So what do you do? Remember step 1! You want to turn to someone that can help the two of you move forward with as little collateral damage as possible!

The final step (final as in what needs to be done initially – not final as in that’s all you need to do! Trust me…this can be long process) is to get brutally honest about your relationship.  When working with couples, as tough as it is, it’s important to understand the full scope of the issue. Was this an isolated event or has there been a long-term pattern of betrayals – from cheating to lying to holding back full details in situations? Was this indiscretion between the spouse and a consensual adult? This is the time to get to the truth of what has been and is going on in the relationship and in regards to the affair. You want to be unequivocally honest about the reality of your relationship. You MUST face the truth before you can decide how to move forward.  Again, it is not wise to try and navigate this journey alone. Your emotions are too raw! Seek support!

Infidelity can be a devastating and at times fatal blow to a marriage. But there is hope! If you are the participating party (the person who had the affair), below are 4 things you want to consider in order for the relationship to move from its death bed, to surviving, to thriving! Immediately following you will find 4 questions the person who was cheated on (again – the injured party) must ask themselves! Finally, you will find resources that I believe can help you along the way!


Have you been unfaithful in your marriage? If so, here are 4 things you must consider.

Do you have:

1. An internal motivation for change  

While initially your desire to keep the marriage is because of how much you have invested in the marriage (“we’ve been together for so long!”), or you don’t want to disrupt the children (“I want them to be in a 2 parent household!”). But in order for you to thrive in your marriage you need to have an internal motivation. In other words, “I don’t like that I did this…and this is not the person I want to be”.

2. An acceptance of responsibility and a sincere expression of remorse 

Don’t blame your spouse. Even if you feel like there was something going on in your marriage that made you unhappy, you did not have to choose to cheat. Take responsibility. Express sincere remorse. And follow that remorse up with action.

3. A willingness to be held accountable  

If you have cheated your spouse has every reason not to trust you. That means they need to know that you are willing to be held accountable to what happened so that the two of you can start the process of healing. Saying “well, you can trust me now” just isn’t enough.

4. A willingness to be transparent (extreme transparency initially) 

This is tied into # 3. Yes… each of us ideally are entitled to some extent of privacy even when married. But cheating impacts your right to privacy. That means you must be open and honest and transparent. That might mean no locks on your cell phones, sharing email and even social media passwords, checking in more frequently when you are not with your spouse. This can help the process of rebuilding the trust. The goal is that as time goes on, your consistency creates less of a need for your spouse to “check up” on you!

Was your spouse unfaithful? Here are 4 things you need to consider:

1. Address any areas that you or your behavior MIGHT have contributed to a risky situation for you and your partner. Wait! Before you put your guard up…this doesn’t mean you caused the affair. You can’t force your spouse to do anything. Regardless of what was going on in the marriage, your spouse chose to respond the way they did. BUT, each of us must consider how we contribute to the chaos in our marriage.

2.   Will you be able to move on despite your hurt? There will come a time that you have to decide if you can move on. At some point your spouse can no longer be held captive to what they did in the past. A huge part of that is their response and behaviors, but if they are doing their part, you want to commit to doing yours.

3. Are you able and willing to take gradual but appropriate risks in restoring trust in your partner? Moving forward will cost you something. There will be a risk. There is no guarantee that your marriage will survive the infidelity. But if you are willing to try, you want to do so understanding that it is an emotional risk —that very well could yield great rewards!

4. Consider how your decision to stay or leave impacts your own values/beliefs. You don’t want to ignore your own values and beliefs when it comes to marriage. How does your faith play a part in how you choose to forgive? What are your values when it comes to marriage? This is important to consider as you decide how to move forward.

Special note: As you may have noticed, there has been no mention on how long this process will take. That is because there is no set time. For some the rebound happens quickly, for others it can take awhile. The point is to do what you know to do, seek help and trust God with the results!

Books that can help:

  • Past the Affair by Baucom; Snyder and Gordon (The therapeutic approach I have shared is based on this resource).
  • Desperate Marriage by Chapman
  • Boundaries in Marriage by Townsend


Have you and your spouse fallen into the Roommate Zone?

10 Tips for Couples to stay out of the _Roommate

Many of us have heard of the “Friendship Zone”. It’s what happens when dating or getting to know someone.   One person has romantic intentions while the other person feels the relationship is simply platonic.  Unfortunately some people find themselves perpetually trying to get OUT of the “friend zone”!

While the “Friend Zone” may be an issue for singles, married couples have their own challenge! If married couples are not careful, they could easily find themselves in the “roommate zone”.  The roommate zone is when you and your spouse have started to operate more like two people cohabitating and not two people building a life together.  You pay bills together, help one another out with the children, but the bond between the two of you is friendly at best.

Staying connected doesn’t just happen.  A couple must be intentional about engaging with one another in a way that nourishes all aspects of their relationship.  If there is a lack of intention, passivity and neglect creeps in and with that the “roommate zone” can become the norm.

So what do you do? What are some practical ways that can help couples stay out of the “roommate zone”? In addition to staying spiritually connected through prayer, check out the 10 applicable tips below:

1. Keep it real to keep it right. Living in denial is not healthy for couples. If you want to stay connected, be honest with one another about your relationship and what you both need. Assuming your spouse knows what you need in the relationship is dangerous. It’s important to ask the tough questions. In addition, successful couples understand the ebbs and flows of a relationship. They are not afraid of seasons where things may seem a little off, because they know what it takes to get back on track. When we keep it real, it helps us keep it right!

2. Give one another space.  Spending time together of course is important. But just as important is the willingness to give one another space to do your own thing. Whether it is a day of shopping with the girls, a round of golf with the fellas or even just a day to yourself, having time apart can be good for your romance. If you are always together, how will you ever have a chance to miss one another?

3. Give grace the way you want it.  Can I help you? Or maybe can I help your spouse? Listen…you are not as easy to live with as you may think that you are! Ouch! I know that may not feel good but it’s all good! The truth is we all have ways about us that can be annoying. But what often happens is that we are much easier on ourselves than we are on our spouses. We look at our issues with so much grace (“God knows my heart”) but we look at the issues of our spouse through the lens of irritation (“Why can’t he/she get it together?”). Challenge yourself to give your spouse the same grace you would want to receive.

4. Don’t stop dreaming. You remember when the two of you first got together and you had such big plans for your future? Most couples start out with so many dreams but life happens and you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day “stuff”. Finding time to dream-cast will help you and your spouse reconnect as you imagine what is to come and build/plan for it together!

5. Learn the art of compromise. If you are going to live with peace with someone else, you must learn how to compromise. Just because it’s the way you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean that’s the way it always has to be. If you know that you can be stuck in your ways, it is important that you commit to giving in more than you do! Compromising helps you both feel respected and connected.

6. Be a safe place. Life is tough. People can be harsh. Drama is around every corner. That’s why you want to make sure you are a place of refuge from the “storms” of life. Creating an environment that makes your spouse feel at peace is a beautiful gift to your marriage. That doesn’t mean that you ignore issues or even sugarcoat shortcomings. It does mean however that you are wise enough to know when it’s time to “go there” and when it’s time to simply be there.

7. Be the President of your spouse’s fan club. Go ahead…create your flyer…order your pins…it’s time for you to run for office! And truthfully, there shouldn’t be anyone else fit for the job! You want to be the President of your spouse’s fan club. Make a commitment that no one will out cheer you when it comes to your spouse! Be the loudest person celebrating, encouraging and supporting your partner for life! Remember when they win, you win!

8. Play together. Why do we take things so seriously? Come on…lighten up a bit! Take some time to just enjoy one another. Be silly. Laugh. Act up. A couple that plays together, stays together.

9. Consider your spouse daily. The Book of Hebrews tells us that we shouldAnd let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…”. To consider someone means to take them into account, to think about them. Can you imagine how much more connected we would feel to our partners if we both intentionally considered one another daily?

10. Be intimate.   Have sex. A lot of sex.  Physical intimacy is a gift from God for married couples. And while it feels good (or should), it also serves a greater purpose.  Sex really does help married couples become one physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Its purpose is to keep us joined together even when the demands of life try and tear us apart!


Remember, intentionality is key in your romance. Applying these tips will help you and your spouse stay connected rather than falling victim to the “roommate zone”…that place where two people are living together without growing together!

Your turn! What tips would you give to help keep the spark in your romance?