Woman Explains How Husband's Affair Saved Their Marriage and Her Health

For many, infidelity is the ultimate betrayal of trust, one that there's no coming back from it. The phrase "once a cheater always a cheater" will ring out in their minds as they swat away any attempts at an apology.

It's something that most simply can't forgive or forget.

Marriage is supposed to be an unbreakable bond that sees spouses vow never to betray one another. But statistics from the General Social Survey (GSS) found that in 2021, just 61 percent of participants claimed to have a very happy marriage.

While there's certainly room for improvement in that figure, it's unsurprising that people who don't feel fulfilled by their marriage might try to find happiness elsewhere.

When the participants were asked for their views about infidelity in a marriage, they didn't feel as strongly about it as they did in previous years. In 2021, 64 percent of people said cheating is always wrong. This was down from 73 percent in 2018.

Since 2008, this trend of being more accepting of cheating has gradually risen. Perhaps it's because people are more aware of how imperfect marriage can be, or society has become more forgiving when partners make a mistake.

Craig Says Infidelity Improved Their Marriage
Charity and Matt Craig pictured together. Charity discovered her husband was cheating in 2012, and it had been going on for 10 months. Charity Craig

One individual who was able to forgive her cheating husband has even claimed that his affair actually made their marriage better in the long run.

Charity Craig, 45, from Orlando, Florida, discovered that her husband Matt, 40, was cheating in 2012. It had been going on for 10 months before she found out.

The couple split temporarily for almost 10 months, which allowed them both time to reflect on who they were as individuals and what was going on in each of their lives.

Speaking about how she felt after uncovering the affair, Craig told Newsweek: "The best way I can describe it is that your best friend kicks you over the edge, into the swirling black waters and you have no idea which way is up, or how to catch your next breath.

"The hardest part was realizing that everything I thought to be true about my life, my family and my future all blew up in one moment. One of my greatest desires had been to build a home where our children grew up with two parents who loved and cared for each other.

Infidelity Made Their Marriage Stronger
Matt and Charity Craig. Charity Craig believes coming through an affair helped make the marriage stronger than it used to be. Charity Craig

"I realized that even though I had done my best to be a good wife, it didn't matter. Nothing I did could protect me from betrayal."

The devastating revelation shook Craig to the core, as everything she thought she knew about herself as a mother and wife had changed. The mom of four took each day at a time and tried to find her footing in life again, but this wasn't without problems.

During their separation, Craig considered taking her husband back, but she knew it could only happen if things were different. They couldn't carry on in their unhealthy marriage of previous years.

The shattering of their marriage gave Charity and Matt time to see how they were each struggling and leaning on each other for the solution, rather than searching for it inwardly. After taking Matt back and working on their marriage together, Craig now feels that things are much better because of the affair.

She continued: "Our marriage is better because when Matt pulled the pin and dropped the grenade in our home, it shattered everything about us.

"Through that pain I realized just how sick I had been. I had lived most of my life with undiagnosed depression. I discovered I was the sickest person in the room, with no emotional boundaries and deep-rooted bitterness.

"I learned that I wasn't the only one who was sick, as Matt lacked self-confidence and purpose. He was just as co-dependent and afraid as I was. We had been two empty vessels pulling on each other to fulfill us and make each other happy."

This realization was ground-breaking in helping the pair find each other again and see what needed to change in their marriage in order for it to continue.

Craig, now a marriage support coach, openly speaks to people about how infidelity improved everything about her marriage and coming through it was the greatest test they could face.

"Transformation after a crisis is a common phenomenon. When you hit rock bottom, that becomes the catalyst for the change you need to improve yourself. This healing journey took my life from gray to technicolor.

"I know that not every relationship can survive this kind of trauma, but if you're both willing to stay and work on healing together, then you don't have to end the marriage to experience a beautiful transformation.

"It sounds weird to say, but I wouldn't change a thing. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish this path for my worst enemy, but the gift of love, intimacy and connection that this broken road gave us is more than I could have imagined."

Friends and family can see the stark changes in their marriage, however Craig admits that when she tells strangers how much an affair has improved the marriage, they "have their doubts." Craig believes this is down to the fact that it's easier to walk away than fight for it, so more people would rather jump ship than deal with the problems.

She added: "I don't buy the blanket beliefs that once a cheater, always a cheater, or that if he loved you then he wouldn't do it. There's always a deeper reason why, and those beliefs don't help us understand it. As much as we wish humans were black and white, we're not. We're complicated beings with thoughts and emotions."

Forgiving someone who cheated can seem like an impossible task, but it is possible, and relationships can heal from it. Clinical psychologist Dr. Cortney Warren believes that relationships can rebuild, but it requires both parties to be willing to put in the hard yards to make it happen.

Can Marriage Recover From Cheating
Dr. Cortney Warren left, Jaime Bronstein right. Experts discuss what it takes for a marriage to recover from cheating. Cortney Warren / Jaime Bronstein

Discussing her advice, Warren told Newsweek: "I often share with couples who come to therapy for an affair that they have reached a pivotal point in their relationship—often a very painful and traumatic one.

"Their old relationship is now essentially over, the way they relate to and see the other, their expectations, their trust in a solid foundation has been shaken. They are confronted with a choice: do they want to see whether they can build a new relationship together, or do they want to end it here?

"Some of the most important factors that affect a couple's ability to recover after an affair include a willingness to work through the painful effects of the affair, both individually and as a couple, a dedication to change factors which contributed to the affair happening, atonement for being unfaithful, forgiveness and reconnection."

Infidelity can mean different things to individuals, so Warren notes that the boundaries can vary for each relationship depending on their values. It's down to the couple to set their own boundaries and stick to them.

This idea is mirrored by relationship therapist Jaime Bronstein, who believes that affairs can be a "wake-up call" for couples to work through problems that have arisen, as she insists that trying to heal a relationship rather than ending it is a no-brainer.

"A couple that becomes stronger after infidelity is unusual but not impossible," Bronstein told Newsweek.

"If two people are meant to be together for the long haul, although it takes a lot of work to rebuild, it does happen.

"Many people are black and white when it comes to infidelity, they have a zero-tolerance policy, and they have every right to. However, some people are willing to salvage the marriage, and for those people I say that it can hurt, but it can't make the relationship worse.

"I recommend not just putting a band aid on the issues in the marriage, but look at what was going on beneath the surface that led to infidelity."

Much like Warren, Bronstein also feels that relationships can be salvaged if both people are willing to try, and noting that someone who cheats isn't a bad person, they just behaved badly at the time.

Has infidelity broken your trust in your partner? Let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.