Wendy Plump, writing in the New York Times, describes the after-effects of an extra-marital affair -- both in the cheating and in the being cheated upon in her essay, "A Room of Yearning and Regret."
Here is her conclusion:
In the end your marriage may not need to be trashed, though mine was. The affairs metastasized in our relationship from the inside out. By the time all was said and done, there was little left to save. Our marriage had become like a leaf eaten away by caterpillars, where the petiole and midrib remain with some ghostly connective tracery in between. Not enough to hold even a drop of rain.
I look at my parents and at how much simpler their lives are at the ages of 75, mostly because they haven't marred the landscape with grand-scale deceit. They have this marriage of 50-some years behind them, and it is a monument to success. A few weeks or months of illicit passion could not hold a candle to it.
[Read the rest of the article at Between Two Worlds.]