Outcomes of couples with infidelity in a community-based sample of couple therapy

J Fam Psychol. 2010 Apr;24(2):212-6. doi: 10.1037/a0018789.


Infidelity is an often cited problem for couples seeking therapy, but the research literature to date is very limited on couple therapy outcomes when infidelity is a problem. The current study is a secondary analysis of a community-based sample of couple therapy in Germany and Austria. Outcomes for 145 couples who reported infidelity as a problem in their relationship were compared with 385 couples who sought therapy for other reasons. Analyses based on hierarchical linear modeling revealed that infidelity couples were significantly more distressed and reported more depressive symptoms at the start of therapy but continued improving through the end of therapy and to 6 months posttherapy. At the follow-up assessment, infidelity couples were not statistically distinguishable from non-infidelity couples, replicating previous research. Sexual dissatisfaction did not depend on infidelity status. Although there was substantial missing data, sensitivity analyses suggested that the primary findings were not due to missing data. The current findings based on a large community sample replicated previous work from an efficacy trial and show generally optimistic results for couples in which there has been an affair.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Couples Therapy*
  • Extramarital Relations / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Behavior*