It depends my clients ask me this all the time.
There are different kinds of affairs. Some people are philanderers. Male philanderers have a better prognosis than female philanderers. Men cheat when they don’t feel good enough.The infidelity is really between a man and his father.
I have had several huge successes with guys like this. In the cases that were successful, the men recognized that all men do not cheat, that only a real man can get emotionally close to his wife, and that he couldn’t hurt her again once the emotional closeness was established.
Female philandering is a different issue. Women who cheat are mean and angry— either overtly or covertly. They often are confused, seeing the wife as the other woman.
One female philanderer was having an affair and sought me out to see her with the man with whom she was having the affair. She actually wanted me to talk him into leaving his wife for her! Naturally, I declined. Though I did offer to see him with his wife.
Not all affairs are philandering. Sometimes people share personal information at work or elsewhere and get close to the wrong person. The affair—emotional or physical or both gets discovered.
In cases like this, the affair gets discovered, the offending behavior must stop, the repetitive apology must be made in sincere and heartfelt ways, and last, the person hurt must come to understand how the person who was unfaithful came to do what was done.
In such situations, Everyone must change. The offending behavior must stop and the unfaithful spouse must understand what went wrong with his or her thinking, what was trying to be solved, and how else the problem can be solved.
No man ever fixed his “not good enough” problems by cheating. No woman ever solved her anger with men by cheating. Such behavior does not ever help a troubled marriage. Infidelity is NOT the fault of the partner.
So infidelity takes a long time to heal. All the secrets need to be blown open. All phone and computer codes need to be shared. There can be no secrets or unexplained absent time.
Still, PTSD persists. It is like a cancer. It never goes away. This is why I see couples who come in with infidelity issues twice yearly after things are better. I want to be sure that the subject stays open. That when old fears come back they get addressed. With understanding from the partner and with the unfaithful spouse as to how it happened, the pain recedes. The issues are with the person who cheated- not the victim of it. Nevertheless, everyone must change. The person who was cheated upon must use calm and avoid the drama that goes with anger.
The couple must adopt policies of sharing outside titillations with each other and always ask if decisions they are about to make are good for the relationship. When in doubt, ask your partner. If you do this, cheating is impossible.