While there is very little agreement among clinicians, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and researchers regarding the causes, origins and implications of infidelity, there seems to be a consensus that marriages can survive affairs and, with the right support, commitment, clinical interventions, and guidance, can even grow stronger. Infidelity is essentially disloyalty or unfaithfulness to a sexual partner in what was supposed to be a sexually exclusive relationship.
The literature about affairs has struggled to differentiate between platonic friendships and emotional affairs.
During their professional careers, most marriage and couples psychotherapists have dealt with marital crises brought about by affairs.
While extramarital affairs are very common, couples psychotherapists are often uninformed about how to address the infidelity crisis.
Following are brief descriptions of the different approaches to marital affairs. Family or Systems View: Infidelity, in this view, is seen as a "family affair" that must be understood and treated within the marital system rather than from an individual perspective.
Therapists who have taken this position use marital therapy and Systems or Communication Theories to understand the relational dynamics that led to and/or sustain the affair.