A journal article I read recently reported:
“Divorce rates were significantly higher for secret infidelity couples (80%, n=4) than for revealed infidelity (43%, n=6) and noninfidelity couples (23%, n=26).”
What that means is that for the 36 couples that were reported on in the study, those with infidelity that was not revealed (not talked about) as an issue saw much higher divorce rates over the five years of follow up that the researchers did for this study. And those couples where they talked about the issues surrounding the infidelity were more likely to make it than those who kept such an issue a secret.
But there is more of interest: “Infidelity couples who eventually divorced reported the highest marital instability; however, infidelity couples who remained married did not differ in marital stability or relationship satisfaction from noninfidelity couples.”
So that seems to mean that if there was infidelity and they divorced, those were also the couples that had the highest marital instability and that would be expected. But the second part of the sentence says that when they remained married (and had been in couples therapy) couples with infidelity were as stable and satisfied in marriage as those that didn’t have infidelity as an issue.
One possible way to look at this finding is to say that infidelity does not mean a worse outcome for the marriage when the issues are worked on in therapy. And there is one more point that was made that I would like to state: “Furthermore, couples who remained married reported an increase in relationship satisfaction over time, regardless of infidelity status.” In this study, when couples remained married, they grew in satisfaction in the relationship regardless of fidelity status, that is, infidelity did not make a significant difference about satisfaction of the relationship. Remember that these couples had been in therapy. Also remember that this is one research paper with 36 couples.
My take on this: if you are willing to work on your issues, and work on infidelity in particular in couples therapy, you can (sometimes) find marital satisfaction at the same level as those who have not had infidelity in the relationship. That is something to think about. Couples therapy can make a difference, and working on your issues, even infidelity, can make a difference.
(Journal article: from Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice.)