Home big read The Big Read in short: When families are torn apart by extramarital affairs

The Big Read in short: When families are torn apart by extramarital affairs

The Big Read in short: When families are torn apart by extramarital affairs

Each week, TODAY’s long-running Big Read series delves into the trends and issues that matter. This week, we look at how extramarital affairs affect couples and their families and how they try to move on. This is a shortened version of the full feature, which can be found here.


Loraine Lee


Charlene Goh


For spouses whose partners have been involved in extramarital affairs, the process of healing and finding closure is difficult and takes a long time, according to those interviewed by TODAY.

One spouse turned to alcohol to ease the pain, while another sought psychiatric help following the shocking revelation.

And for many, the sting of betrayal, along with the stigma of a failed marriage, stays with them despite the passage of time.

Others TODAY approached declined to speak as they fear reliving what one described as the “worst moment of my life” or those around them discovering that their partners have cheated.

Apart from Ms Smith, the rest of those interviewed declined to reveal their names and occupations, out of concern at how others may view them.

“We’re still a very traditional society, so people question who did what wrong when a relationship breaks down… it’s tough to handle that when you’re dealing with the betrayal,” said Ms Smith.

On why she agreed to be named, she said: “I’ve done nothing wrong, and have learnt so much over the years… I have nothing to be ashamed of.”

One counsellor described extramarital affairs as the “cancer of relationships”, but added that if couples work together after an affair is exposed, their frayed relationship can be rebuilt to become stronger than before.


Some counsellors and family lawyers told TODAY that they have seen a rise in cases of extramarital affairs following the Covid-19 pandemic due to various reasons, such as more time spent at home making it easier for spouses to pick up signs of cheating, and technology helping cheaters to find other willing partners.

Mr Mohammed Shakirin, a partner at I.R.B Law LLP, said: “In the past, maybe you have what, Friendster? You must log in and dial in but now you can have a thousand and one applications out there that allow you to meet new people.”