Could an affair make your marriage STRONGER?

That's what a new survey is claiming.

Crazy, right? I don't know about you but this doesn't sound like marriage to me. It sounds like dating. To me, one of the biggest requirements of marriage is fidelity but a surprising number of couples now claim affairs have helped their marriages.

1 in 3 married couples surveyed claim cheating has made their sex life better thus improving their marriages. Relationship expert Tracey Cox explains to the Daily Mail, "Sometimes an affair can be a wake up call for a marriage and jolt one or both partners into realising just how important they are to each other and how devastating it would be to lose them."

Could there something in this?

"Married dating" website Ashley Madison now has almost half-a-million Australian members since it's launch here in 2010. It has a smartphone app and the website claims to protect cheaters from leaving a trail by deleting personal communication between users and keeping identities a secret. The service promises sex or your money back. It's popularity has sparked debate about the traditional rules of marriage.

Isn't it better to have discreet affairs and stay in your marriage rather than go through the trauma of breaking up your family? What if you love your husband or wife but are feeling lonely or neglected?

What they don't know won't hurt them, right?

However Tracey Cox ultimately warns against affairs. "But in most cases, affairs devastate relationships. I would never, ever suggest an affair as a way of improving marriage because affairs break the trust bond and in most cases, it never recovers."


Even "open marriages" are being embraced by couples and credited with improving marital harmony. Both partners agree to the rules and stay happily married in a very non-convential way. But these too can go horribly wrong.

Novelist Olivia Fane has written about her experience in an open marriage in her new book The Conversations: 66 Reasons To Start Talking. She and writer Adam Nicolson were married when she was just 22. They drew up a 'contract' setting out rules. Adam was allowed one affair per year and could travel for two weeks each year. Olivia was allowed ten kisses a year and a two week affair every second year.

They stuck to the rules for ten years and had three sons. It was a happy marriage. Until Adam fell in love with one of his mistresses and left her. Olivia has since remarried and sticks to a traditional marriage with no cheating allowed.

She writes, "Losing Adam broke my heart. Adam and I didn't even set out to be faithful to each other for ever and ever, so in a sense no trust was betrayed."

"Yet it turns out that perhaps the rules in our marriage 'contract' were the wrong ones."

My husband and I agree on one thing in our marriage – cheating is the one and only deal breaker. We could forgive each other anything else except this. But this is our choice and I wonder how many other couples are perfectly happy with a vastly different arrangement.

We'd love to hear about your experiences. Has your relationship survived cheating and what did you learn? Or, do you have an open marriage? What are the specific rules?

Oh, and let's keep this conversation PG.