Most long-term relationships will tend to hit a rocky patch at one time or another. How we handle such a period will often determine the course for the rest of a couple’s life. So if marriage is for life, why do some individuals become wayward when the relationship is suffering, and seek intimacy with another whereas others do not?
When another person, other than our partner, pays us a compliment, the rush of excitement can feel like we have won the lottery. Although the word infidelity can strike fear through most of us, infidelity can, in some circumstances, add strength to a relationship. Without condoning it outright I would like to explore the situations I have encountered over the years which did actually help troubled relationships find renewed purpose.
The Prejudice Toward Infidelity
Monogamy is considered the only acceptable way to act in a marriage or long-term relationship, so unless a couple lean toward polyamory (consensual sex with one or more partners, accepted by a partner), cheating on a partner is thought to be harmful to a relationship. Infidelity can destroy a partnership, or it is perfectly acceptable to agree that everyone can make a mistake or two on the path to happiness.
One of my closest friends confessed that she felt ignored by her partner, so when one of her work colleagues started complimenting her, her confidence rocketed. Before she knew it, she was fully enthralled in a passionate affair without giving her partner a second thought. However, what she failed to realise is that her partner was also lusting after a secret lover. Both affairs were discovered, but it did not result in anger or resentment, but a newfound love for one another. They rediscovered the same honeymoon attraction that first brought them together. They married shortly afterward.
On another occasion a client confessed that he was sick of watching porn every night. He still felt attracted to his wife, but she had refused him sex for months. He took advantage of her only weakness—jealousy—and began an affair with a neighbour five years his junior. When his wife eventually discovered the affair, she threw him out of the house, but suddenly realised that she was nothing without him. He explained that he needed sex, still felt attracted to her, and asked her if she would experiment in the bedroom. His infidelity bolted her out of her non-sex cycle. They have just celebrated their 15th year of marriage.
The Six Types of Affairs
• Lustful affair: This type of affair is focused only toward lust. Feeling a strong chemistry with someone can result from physical attraction, but the lustful affair is also the quickest to cool off. Is there a hidden conflict internally, and cheating on a partner makes you feel alive? It is best to discuss this with a partner, as affairs focused only toward lust can create emptiness.
• Attention seeking affair: A relationship can eventually feel loveless. You feel ignored by a partner, so the only solution is to make a partner feel jealous. The mistrust could create more havoc, and you may end up wrecking your marriage, but if a partner discovers the affair, and you can explain why it happened, the relationship may be worth saving.
• Imaginary affair: You may have a friend who you feel close to. You have considered cheating on your partner with the friend, but realise that the friendship would be ruined if you overstepped the line. It can feel as intense as a full-blown affair, as you constantly think about them. To create further drama, you may not even mention the friend to a partner. Discover what is missing from your current relationship that you only feel with your friend, before the imaginary affair becomes a real one that you may regret.
• Family affair: Having an affair with a member of your spouse’s family is never a safe option, as there is the chance of being caught, which can destroy a family. Is it worth the pain?
• Fantasy affair: Having an affair and believing it will turn into a relationship can be a strong illusion. Some men and women are prone to creating illusions such as this. However, a relationship requires two committed individuals. Lust is the opposite of love. Lust is the usual reason to start an affair, but what if lust doesn’t turn into love and you sacrificed a partner for a bit of fun?
• Soul mate affair: This is the most dangerous of all affairs, as you may have met someone who you click with on all levels. One couple consulted me about this exact scenario. He mentioned that he experienced a déjà vu moment with her, and believed that they were meant to be together. The soul mate affair is extremely dangerous, as it can lead to destruction in relationships, especially those with children. The affair can mould into a healthy relationship, but several people are hurt along the way.
Infidelity is Not Always the Enemy
Infidelity is often frowned upon, and with good reason, but an affair can on occasion save a marriage that is on the edge of destruction. I have seen couples regain the feeling they first felt toward one another at the start of the relationship. I do not advise it or condone it but do acknowledge that, on occasion, an affair can make people realise what they have is worth fighting for.
If you have experienced problems in your marriage, did you ever feel tempted to have an affair? Did the affair recreate fireworks with a partner or, as with the majority of cases; was the affair the death knell in the relationship?