Following infidelity, most couples wonder: is there any way to recover from this injury to the relationship and save the marriage? Elizabeth Allen and her colleagues recently conducted a study with Army personnel to test whether marriage education could improve the relationships of couples who had experienced infidelity. They were asked to participate in a program about marriage education; there was no mention of marital distress or infidelity in the recruitment. Half of the couples were assigned to participate in the Prevention and Relationship Education Program (PREP) and the other half were assigned to a control group. The couples were in the late 20s, were mostly white (about 70 percent) and had a high school education. The couples had been married an average of seven years and about three-quarters had children.
The program was successful in increasing these couples’ marital satisfaction and had a positive effect on their communication skills. Despite these improvements, the PREP program did not decrease the likelihood of divorce for couples with a history of infidelity. Allen and colleagues conclude, “For some couples with a history of infidelity, PREP may strengthen the marriage and reduce the chances of divorce, but for other couples, PREP’s focus on characteristics of healthy and unhealthy marriage may clarify awareness of ongoing marital issues, resulting in the decision to end the marriage.”
The Army has launched an education campaign, called Strong Bonds, to help service members and their spouses strengthen their marriages.