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How Cheating Wrecks a Marriage and Other Relationships

Read on to learn about how cheating can damage and even ruin relationships.

Read on to learn about how cheating can damage and even ruin relationships.

Consequences of Cheating on Your Spouse

Trust is the foundation that marriage rests upon, but when it is broken, it often remains that way. A spouse can forgive, but that painful experience will lurk in the offended spouse’s mind. They won't want to let down their guards for fear that it could happen again. For some, it is easier to forgive than to forget. Trusting and getting hurt is bad enough. Who wants to walk blindly and chance it to happen again? It is not uncommon for a wounded spouse to put up barriers of protection.

Distrust is very common between spouses when one has cheated. Distrust is like padding to lessen the blow if cheating happens again. It is hoarded like rare coins and not easy to give up. On the other hand, it is certainly not impossible to trust again, but it usually does not happen easily or quickly.

One victim of cheating said that, after she reconciled with her husband, the effects of infidelity were like a beautiful wedding cake that had been snatched by a starving dog that got away with the tier, the crowning part of the cake. Getting the trust back was as likely as finding that dog and hoping that he would regurgitate the tier intact.

The remaining cake was still beautiful, but the unforgettable tier, the most attractive layer, could be forever gone and sorely missed. How could a loving spouse take such beauty away from a loved one he promised to cherish? Such pain is often indescribable.

Lives Affected

Cheating doesn't only affect marriage. Cheaters victimize relationships with children, loving friends, other close family members, and themselves. Both cheaters’ families may suffer from pain, embarrassment, and awareness of community gossip. Such scandals seem to lower the integrity of whole families in communities.

Even though this is stereotyping, whole families may suffer because of it. Children do not want their parents to suffer. Mothers and fathers do not want their married daughters to be hurt needlessly. A good friend does not want to witness her best friend's husband in a compromising situation with another woman. A cousin or an aunt does not want to hear gossip about their loved one from outsiders in the community. A grandmother does not want to discover that her prized grandson is a cheater.

Young people contemplating marriage one day may lose respect for the union due to all of the infidelities in society, and celebrity gossip coming through the media does not help either. All of these visible experiences are painful for many family members and others to bear when going through the effects of cheating.

Children may feel that their father or mother, who has chosen another family, has traded them for other children. Children, often the most wounded victims, suffer many years at the alienation of a parent from the family. Many children suffer silently and, too often, blame themselves. Sometimes the trauma spills over into the rest of their lives in the forms of various dysfunctions in their own families.

It is clear that the forbidden pair and the innocent spouse are not the only ones affected by the unfaithfulness. Domino effects of such trauma could affect upcoming generations without proper intervention. Counseling is vital at this time, but most families fail to see the need for it.

The effects of cheating on the spouse can be lasting and may forever change her outlook on relationships and life. A second relationship or marriage could suffer repercussions stemming from the previous marriage if the victimized spouse has not healed. Many second husbands have reported spousal punishment because of the previous husband's errors. These scarred women, often severely misunderstood, are said to be "angry," "bitter," or "mad" when they are actually afraid, wounded, and not healed.

Children Suffer, too

Children Suffer, too

Distrust Between Cheaters

The cheaters realize later, when the newness of their relationship wears off, that they had neither consideration for the feelings and health of the ones whom they love, nor did they consider their own best interests. If the cheaters marry, each may wonder if the other thinks affectionately about their spouses or even wishes to reconcile, and this may cause a tinge of jealousy. Where is the trust between cheaters? This is where blaming each other may occur. Wrong relationships do not easily become right ones.

The cheaters may accuse each other of seduction, lying, and using. They may even separate. The feelings of separation can be devastating even though both parties know that they are doing the right thing. Being alone, feeling the sting and loss resulting from poor decisions, feeling used and cheated of a normal life, and blaming each other, are all feelings that the couple often face after terminating their relationship. Trying to justify reasons to break up someone else’s home is short-lived. The truth has a way of worming its way out of individuals and staring into their eyes.

Thus, the cheaters grow to realize that they are each other’s victims. A younger woman, especially, may accuse an older man, whom she may think should have been wiser, of taking advantage of her youth and lack of knowledge of possible consequences. Can they ever completely trust each other considering the damage that they have done to their families? Escalating fears may eventually lead to bad blood between the cheaters.

Blaming the Innocent Spouse

The forbidden couple has a tendency to cast blame on the innocent spouse(s) in order to throw off their own feelings of guilt. Sometimes they fight to keep the innocent party from getting any financial support and even may convince themselves that any children in the marriage are better off with them, the fitter parents (dad and step-mother). They play the game of making the innocent spouse the culprit.

Whatever the husband has told the mistress, she believes and uses against the wife. They spend much time trying to convince friends and family that the innocent spouse caused the problems that led to their coupling. They are trying to paint a picture of innocence, but they know better than anyone that this image is fabricated and can never be a masterpiece.

Alienation of Family, Friends, and Others

Some family, friends, acquaintances, and others may not readily socialize with the cheaters because they have sided with the innocent spouse, while others may choose to side with them. Still, others will distrust these cheaters around their own spouses or partners due to their adulterous reputations. The forbidden couple often attracts others like themselves or singles as friends. Of course, a few old friends will linger.

The couple may also run the risk of being excluded or not accepted in certain social circles, which is a mirror of disrespect. Once a person is labeled in a community as unfaithful, it may never disappear, even if the person changes. Others, even outsiders, often do not forgive or trust again.

Alienation of Spousal Affection

Some wives sue mistresses for alienation of affection. This decision can badly affect the mistress's financial stability. So, a risk taker might want to think about this before pursuing someone else’s spouse.

Mom Doing It Alone

Mom Doing It Alone

More Distrust

Is it logical for cheaters to think that cheaters do not cheat? Imagine two cheaters married to each other. What are their secret thoughts? Can they trust each other? Where is the credibility? Is each capable of cheating on the other? They both have certainly had lots of practice. Their behaviors speak for them.


Guilt is like a cancerous sore. It grows and gets worse as time passes. Soon it begins to occupy the mind, invading thoughts when it is not wanted. It causes worry, regret, and shame. Such thoughts certainly do not add to the happiness of any relationship. The cheating spouse may think about returning to his wife and rekindling his marriage. A spouse who has had a Christian upbringing may fear God’s judgment, end the affair, and seek forgiveness.

Vengeance and Desperation

There is always a slight chance that an obsessed party, who could be anyone in the triangle, may inflict bodily harm on the spouse, the mistress/lover, or the cheater due to desperation and a need to control. The mistress may try various manipulations to anger the wife in order to break up the marriage. A desperate mistress could even be a threat to the wife's life. Husbands have discovered too late that their mistresses were capable of harming their wives, even their children, in their attempts to alienate and quickly possess the husband.

Often wives do not know that their husbands are cheating. Many spouses and mistresses get so involved before they attempt to rectify their mistake that they have to endure the once unsuspecting spouse’s angry reactions, which could result in a very nasty and costly divorce. Some injured parties hire spies who collect loads of evidence against the husband or wife which could be devastating in court.

Victimized wives must be careful because there is no secret that desperate husbands, who have fallen in love with their mistresses and do not wish to share their money with their wives, have been known to plan their murder, even involving their eager mistresses. A tragedy is not uncommon in relationships gone bad. Choosing a prison bed and separation forever is not exactly a honeymoon suite for cheaters or wives who seek to solve problems with desperation and crime.

Dealing With Consequences

Dealing With Consequences

Possible Irreparable Consequences of Cheating

Many cheaters think that they can repair damage to their marriage if their spouses discover their infidelities. They feel that it is just a matter of getting the offended spouse to forgive them. That could happen, but it may not always be that simple. Some of the following consequences could be long-term or irreparable in a marriage, home, and family after a spouse has been caught cheating:

  1. broken trust
  2. dysfunctional family
  3. low self-esteem
  4. severe depression
  5. defamation of character
  6. alienation of affection lawsuit
  7. divorce
  8. major financial changes due to a divorce settlement
  9. alienation or distancing of family members and friends
  10. contraction of incurable STD’s
  11. outside pregnancy
  12. child support payments that take money away from the household, spouse, and children
  13. “baby's mama” problems that could affect spouse and family's wellbeing
  14. stalking
  15. threatening or harassing phone calls
  16. severe violence and risk of imprisonment

The Statistics according to "WOMAN SAVERS, World’s largest Database Rating Men”

“Infidelity statistics have varied drastically over the past 50 years. The problem with obtaining accurate statistics on adultery is that most people will not tell the truth because it is such a sensitive subject. Controlled cheating surveys are scarce and the below infidelity percentages have been randomly collected from various sources:

“Affairs affect one of every 2.7 couples, according to counselor Janis Abrahms Spring, author of 'After the Affair'," as reported by the Washington Post on March 30, 1999. Ten percent of extramarital affairs last one day, 10 percent last more than one day but less than a month, 50 percent last more than a month but less than a year, and 40 percent last two or more years. Few extramarital affairs last more than four years.

“A lesser known fact is that those who divorce rarely marry the person with whom they are having the affair. For example, Dr. Jan Halper’s study of successful men (executives, entrepreneurs, professionals) found that very few men who have affairs divorce their wives and marry their lovers. Only 3 percent of the 4,100 successful men surveyed eventually married their lovers.

“Frank Pittman has found that the divorce rate among those who married their lovers was 75 percent. The reasons for the high divorce rate include intervention of reality, guilt, expectations, a general distrust of marriage, and a distrust of the lover.”

Cheating Is Never Right

Cheating is never right in a marriage or any relationship, and excuses are not acceptable. Consequences are devastating for all involved, especially the offended spouse and children. Even the cheaters endure the negative consequences of their poor choices. They may be alienated by family and friends and may have to undergo a financial change due to a divorce and settlements.

It is important that each victim realizes that no matter how guilty they feel, they are not responsible for the affair. Even cheaters should value themselves as worthy of a relationship that does not downsize them to the level of creeping, stealing, or victimizing innocent individuals.

It has been revealed in popular surveys that over 90% of cheaters do not marry each other because of distrust and guilt. A broken family relationship is a broken home, a dysfunctional home, and no one should be forced to endure the trauma that transpires there.

Don't Hesitate to Seek Professional Counseling

The contents of this article are not designed to serve as professional advice to anyone that cheating has affected. It is designed to share research findings, personal experiences, and any insight that commentators volunteer to share. Anyone in need of help or guidance after experiencing trauma brought on by infidelity should seek professional counseling. The author wishes you wellness and happiness.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.