Marriage after an Affair

Well, you’ve had your affair and the divorce is now final. The question is will you or won’t you marry the person you had the affair with? If they stuck with you through your divorce, they are most likely expecting a proposal in the very near future. If you already made that promise, then they are waiting for you to follow through on it.

Any marriage needs to be carefully considered. Marriage to somebody you cheated on your spouse with needs to be looked at even closer. A hot affair is not the basis for a long-time commitment. One writer looked at a number of studies on this topic. Only 3% of the men who had affairs married the women who they had the affair with. Those who did suffered a 75% divorce rate. “The reasons suggested for this high divorce rate included distrust of the other person, a general distrust of marriage in general, guilt, and disappointment with the reality of the relationship when compared with the previous fantasy of the relationship.” (Claddish, 2008)

There are no statistics to be found for the number of women who go on to marry their extra-marital affair partner, although 45% to 55% of married women have an affair by the age of 40. One writer claims this may be because women are more conservative when it comes to starting a new relationship. Given the statistics about how many women have affairs, that theory doesn’t match up. 54% of divorced women remarry within 5 years, and 75% have remarried with 10 years of a divorce. (Bramlet, 2002) What is unknown is how many marry their partner in crime.

There is an old saying that, “the person you are with during the divorce will most likely not be the one you are with after it.” When only 3% of men marry their girlfriend, one or both of them have obviously decided they can’t work through the issues. The girlfriend may also have had second thoughts.

Does it have to be this way? Not necessarily. This divorce rate is not that different from the general divorce rate of 73% for third marriages. The issues are a bit different but the question is, “Can you work your way through them?”

Any successful remarriage has to start with some very pointed questions – at yourself. “What was my part in the failure of my last marriage”? You carry the seeds of your next divorce in the reasons for your last one. You also have to ask, “Why did I have an affair and why did I have it with this person?”

Another fact is that, “People who have divorced and remarried multiple times tend to be relatively impulsive and nonconformist.” (Brody, 1988) This is a key part of the idea of individualism that is becoming so prevalent in Western Culture today. Individualism says “It’s all about me. A successful marriage says “It’s all about us”.” Can you change your outlook on how you live your life?

The odds are not in your favor that marrying your girlfriend or boyfriend will be successful. The way to make it successful is the same as for any other divorcee. You are going to have to look at yourself, deal with the issues, and learn how to be a partner rather than an individual.

Bramlett, M. D., & Mosher, W. D. (2002). Cohabitation, marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the United States. Vital and Health Statistics. Series 23, Data from the National Survey of Family Growth, (22), 1-93. PMID 12183886
Brody, G. H., Neubaum, E., & Forehand, R. (1988). Serial marriage: A heuristic analysis of an emerging family form. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 211-222. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.103.2.211 PMID 3283815
Claddish, Fergal. (2008). What Percentage Of People Marry The Other Person That They Had An Affair Or Cheated With? Available: Last accessed 12/18/2011
Compilation. (2011). Infidelity Statistics. Available: Last accessed 12/18/2011
Ivillage. (2011). Last Accessed 12/18/2011

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