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Marriage: Why Infidelity Happens
Why Infidelity Happens
Nothing shakes a marriage to its core like an extra marital affair. Nothing. Not money problems, not interfering in-laws, not poor communication, not kid burnout and not colliding careers. None of these come even close. An outside affair blows through a marriage like a tornado. It turns everything upside down and inside out. Most of all it leaves trust, sacred to any marriage, in shreds. Rekindling that trust is essential but it’s difficult, tricky business.
Why are extra marital affairs so common and are they really insurmountable? Are so many marriages that bad that its inevitable that one or both partners stray? Probably not. Really bad marriages are the minority. But so are the really good ones. That leaves an awful lot of marriages in the middle, just idling along on automatic pilot. It’s these relationships that are most vulnerable.
For the typical American marriage being on overload is the norm. Career hassles, kids, extended family pressures, money worries, throw in a house and pets and the recipe is complete for a husband and wife to be so busy they can completely take each other for granted and not even realize it. When your marriage, the quality of your closeness or intimacy with each other, falls to the bottom of your "to do” list you’re in big trouble. If you feel like "ships passing in the night” its time to sound the alarm.
More and more couples are unhappily finding out that marriage needs their focused attention. Falling in love may appear to happen naturally and spontaneously; maintaining that love so it grows stronger with time takes a conscious effort. Without this effort marriage just drift aimlessly along as everything else grabs our attention.
Cheating in marriage is a unisex phenomenon. Its much more common among husbands but wives also stray. Julie, 31, began a brief affair because her workaholic husband was almost never around. "And its not like he has no choice in the matter, its his business he can come and go as he pleases. I begged for more time, for me and for our son, but it fell on deaf ears.” While her husband worked, Julie simmered with an anger that turned into bitter resentment.
Hurt feelings covered over by anger are another reason affairs happen. The spouse who cheats is very often acting out an anger from within their marriage. This doesn’t mean they are justified in doing so. It means their ability to deal with feelings in a less hurtful way is flawed. It is never a good idea to cope with or try to solve a problem in your marriage by getting involved with someone else outside it.
Dan had an affair with his secretary when he and his marriage hit middle age. "Once the kids were gone, Alice focused all of her attention on me. Negative attention that is. She complained about everything and nothing I could do made her happy. We argued over stuff that never seemed important before.
I hate to argue so I hold a lot of stuff in. Rather than come home and fight I stayed at the office longer. That was it. Susan was my secretary for eight years. I complained. She listened. It was a line I should never have crossed.”
Once a marriage hits middle age a lot can go wrong. Women and men change, emotionally and physically. What they need from each other also changes as do their patterns and of communicating. Once children grow up and leave, wives need a greater level of interest and caring is difficult for most men. They usually don’t understand what is required of them.
Even when they do understand, being more emotionally expressive doesn’t come easy. Frustration settles in as both partners feel misunderstood and unappreciated. Once this happens the likelihood that of outside involvement becomes much greater.
Loving someone hurts terribly when they cheat on you. The betrayal is heart breaking. With it comes a degree of outrage and anger that can be overwhelming. It is fro this low point that efforts to rebuild and repair a marriage begin. The partner who has broken the trust must allow the other to express their hurt and anger.
It is difficult to be with pain that you have caused without trying to make it go away. Often no excuses or explanations, they will not be heard and only serve to fuel more anger. Being with your partner emotionally, feeling their pain as if it were your pain is essential. And while the hurt partner must get their feelings out being, being verbally abusive or physically violent is never allowed.


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