How to Survive an Affair

When New York's newly inaugurated governor, David Paterson, admitted this week that both he and his wife had had extramarital affairs, the bombshell highlighted a problem many married Americans face.

Sixty percent of husbands and 40 percent of wives will have an adulterous affair, according to the book, "The Myth of Monogamy." Of couples in which at least one partner cheats, 65 percent will divorce.

When the Patersons decided to rehabilitate their marriage and stay together, they became part of the 35 percent of couples who stay together after an affair. New York's first couple opted for marriage counseling to help repair their relationship.

Also among that 35 percent are Anne and Brian Bercht. When Anne learned her husband was cheating, she thought they were done.

"I thought my marriage was over for sure," she said.

Bercht, who thought she had a picture-perfect marriage, was crushed when her husband of 18 years, Brian, told her of the affair.

"Moment he told me, it was devastating. There was no time. Literally felt like I had died," Anne said.

By Brian's own admission, he was surprised when he cheated on his wife.

"I was under the impression affairs happened in bad marriages," he said. "I never thought I'd be the person who had an affair. It went against everything I believed in."

But Anne and Brian decided to rebuild their marriage and go to counseling and read self-help books.

"You're either going to be bitter or better," Anne said.

Clinical Psychologist and Huffington Post columnist Belisa Vranich agreed and said an affair doesn't necessarily signify the end of a marriage.

"It could mean that's there's a glitch, that there's something there you need to fix," she said on "Good Morning America" today.

Vranich said men and women usually have specific reasons for going astray.

"Classically for men they love their wives and they stray for variety," she said. "[For women] they go out for an emotional connection as well as the fun."

She added a relationship could be complicated when both spouses cheat, like in the Patersons' case. Questions can arise about the degree of cheating, whether the marriage was open, or if a couple was separated and was forthcoming about seeing other people.

But once a pair decides to repair its bond, counseling could help.

"You do need that third person, that counsel, that referee," Vranich said.

But both parties must be committed.

"It means both people have to be there 100 percent," Vranich said. "It's very complicated. When people come to see me in therapy, you really have to untie things and see what the rules are."

For Anne and Brian therapy worked and after two years, Anne said she forgave her husband and even wrote a book about her journey. Last week the couple celebrated its 26th wedding anniversary.

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