How To Recover After An Affair Or Infidelity In A Marriage
Some people are sexually attracted to other people and will act on it and others are sexually attracted and won’t act on it. People who are confiding in each other are sharing a special kind of intimacy and may not need anything else.
Suffice to say it is a dangerous game to play being in an emotional affair because you just don’t know how deep your feelings are. It may feel like a deep friendship but it may only take one look, one moment to change everything from emotional to sensual to physical to sexual.
A sexual affair is an extramarital relationship between two people for the purpose of sexual release, sexual exploration and satisfaction. The purpose of a sexual affair is not the emotional component in fact it can be quite detached and makes it part of the thrill but still serves a purpose. They are drawn to together through desire and sexual release.
So, would you rather your partner have a sexual affair or an emotional affair? Would you believe that most people would prefer a sexual affair rather than an emotional affair? Why? Because emotions are not something you can choose to have for just anyone. Let’s face it you could have sex with anyone – making love is a different matter though.
The reason people find it harder to accept an emotional affair is because sexual response is kind of like human error.
Communication on the other hand is a learned skill that can make or break a couple. It is the glue that keeps couples together. The ability to share your dreams, talk about your day, and work through issues is essential for the longevity of a relationship. Thinking your partner can confide in someone else their deepest thoughts and intimate feelings is like a stab in the heart.
Why do Men & Women Cheat?
1. People claim that they are not happy in their relationship so they look for love and affection elsewhere. Spouses cheat because of problems in their relationship – something is missing, passion has faded, partners feel lonely, people find someone who treats them better or who appreciates them more than their current spouse, and so on.
2. Human nature. Unfortunately, most of the evidence indicates being faithful to a single romantic partner over the course of one’s lifetime is difficult to do.
And while not everyone will stray, it is estimated that 30-60% of men and women will cheat on a spouse at least once during the course of their marriage. That’s a pretty high percentage.
You can only be responsible for your own actions and how you feel and how you behave.
How Do People Make the Decision To Cheat?
Decisions about our sexual behaviour are typically not planned in advance. Few people intentionally plan on committing infidelity (at least not the first time it happens). Most people are serious when making promises to be faithful and have every intention of keeping their promise.
However, human behaviour is not always governed by the fact that vows were taken and that promises were made.
When it comes to making decisions about love and betrayal, logic and reason have a difficult time competing with our emotions for control. So from time to time, our emotions influence our behaviour and lead us down paths we had no intention of travelling.
There are three separate emotional systems that are involved in cheating:
1. Sexual desire
2. Romantic love
These three distinct emotional systems pull people in different directions. Most infidelity occurs, not because it is planned, but because people find themselves in situations where their emotions overwhelm them.
Here is a list of reasons and situations that can contribute to the outcome of an affair:
• Having a close or co-dependent friendship with someone other than one’s spouse
• Confiding in another person on a regular basis about conflicts in their relationship, thus creating a bond based on intimate information and details
• Being around or in contact with someone who is sexually interested
• Spending a lot of time one-on-one with someone else
• Feeling disconnected with one’s spouse (feeling lonely, being upset or angry with a spouse)
• Situations that create an opportunity and the feeling that one will not get caught
• Over indulgence of alcohol or drugs impairing one’s ability to reason or make an informed decision
Unfortunately, for many people, it is very difficult to always be in control of one’s emotions when placed in these types of situations. What about “will power” or “self-restraint?” Will power and self-restraint does little to change the outcome of the situation once the overwhelming emotions kick in.
Why is Sex so important? Because whether we like to acknowledge it or not, our sexual desire underlies much of what we do. Evolution shaped human behaviour – how we think, feel, and behave. Most of the time we are not aware of the motivations that influence our behaviour.
But, evolution rewards life forms that survive, reproduce and help relatives get ahead. So evolution rewarded humans that were sexual in nature – we are all the descendants of individuals who were driven and motivated to act on their sexual impulses.
Accordingly, people today are stuck with the sexual desires, which drove our ancestors to reproduce. This, however, does NOT mean that EVERYONE will cheat and have an affair; it only means that the tendency to cheat is innate – it’s part of who we are.
So, why do some people act on their desire to cheat and have an affair while others remain faithful? Part of the reason why infidelity is so common stems directly from our sexual desire. Sexual desire, whether we are conscious of it or not, is one of life’s most basic and fundamental needs. But when talking about sexual desire, some sexism is involved. There are some sexual differences between men and women and for the most part, our sexual desire influences a lot of our behaviour and we’re not always aware of its influence.
Whose Fault is it?
So whose fault is it? Are they the bad one for getting caught up in it? Is it your fault for not giving them enough love and attention? Is it the other persons fault for coming between you in the first place when they know you were in a committed relationship?
I would say yes to each of the above but more than likely the third person will get the blame. Why? In order for the couple to stay together they need a common enemy to direct their negativity towards. Someone who can take the attention off each other and someone they can blame so that they can stay together. It’s not right but it’s common.
To the person who had the affair, the question’s are, “why did this happen? Is your partner not good enough? What does the other person do or give you that you are not getting from home? You know how to communicate can you use those skills in your relationship now?”
To the person who has been betrayed from the affair, the questions are, “how was your relationship going before the emotional affair? How much time and attention were you giving each other? When was the last time you were grateful and happy to be in the relationship?”
Sometimes it takes situations like these to remind you of what you have in life. It’s a shame but sometimes it makes a couple stronger. Sometimes the other partner didn’t know there were problems. If that were the case then I would have to ask how self-aware are you? How well do you really know your partner if you didn’t realize there were any issues. Love is blind so we are told but putting effort into your relationship is another story.
So You Just Found Out Your Partner’s Had An Affair – Now What?
You may experience a wide array for emotions singularly or all at once. We usually go back to our caveman instincts – Self-protection first.
Who really wants to think or believe that your partner is confiding in someone else? Is spending quality time talking and communicating with someone else when they have you?
Denial is one of the first emotions because it protects you from processing the truth. Denial has a great purpose to allow you to live in the ideal world you have created – to keep your life intact just the way you believe it to be.
The problem with denial is exactly what was just described – it keeps you from confronting the truth and living in the real world and impedes the possibility of resolution and growth in yourself and your relationship.
Minimizing the Details
It’s not that big a deal – so what? They are friends with someone else, it doesn’t mean anything! Minimizing is similar to denial because it allows you to believe that it is much less important than it really is. It allows you to hold onto the belief everything is fine when in fact it is not. Especially when other people know the truth and you are the only person seeing it as something different. As a client said to me once “It is what it is”. In order to work through the issue you have to see it for what it really is and nothing more or nothing less.
Obsession is such a do – it – to – yourself – process. Over analyzing every detail to death till there’s nothing left to squeeze out of the facts. Analysis – paralysis. You over analyze everything and make it bigger in your mind.
It takes up all your spare time and cuts into time that should be dedicated to other areas of your life like family, friends, and work. This is a painful place to be. It’s almost a need to be consumed by the thoughts and it becomes addictive. But the more energy you put to it the more it can grow. It doesn’t help you and doesn’t help the situation.
Don’t want to think about it? Hoping by being busy it will just disappear? Wrong. Distracting yourself is just a really good way to burn yourself out. You can overdo things to the point of exhaustion. These situations are already emotionally, physically and mentally draining to start with.
Let’s Summarise – You have:
- avoided the situation
- denied the situation,
- obsessed about it
- distracted yourself from it
So what happens when it actually hits home and you finally realize the truth? You realize the reality that your partner is having or has had an emotional affair? You may experience a feeling of anger, sadness, fear, hurt or guilt. Then the other emotions come in secondary to these such as loneliness, failure, embarrassment, helplessness, unloved.
What do you do when the emotions pour in like anger or sadness?
Anger is adrenaline and is a rush. It feels like power. Sadness is a withdrawal coping skill that will give you attention. People will deal with the reality of the emotional affair in one of these ways and generally fluctuate between both feelings.
What do you do with these feelings? You’ll direct your sadness and anger inwards or outwards. Inwards means you are blaming yourself. It’s your fault because you didn’t do this or didn’t do that, it’s because of how you look, or you’re not interesting anymore and so on and so on. To deal with it outwards means you’re going to blame your partner or the third party. It’s all their fault. It’s your partner’s fault because they are the one who made a commitment to you. They made promises to you and they betrayed you.
It’s the third parties fault because they should respect the fact that your partner is already in a relationship and should have backed off and found someone who is single to have any type of relationship with. But who should be blamed, who should feel guilty and who should feel betrayed?
The answer? All three people can feel blame, shame, guilt and betrayal. Where to go from here?
Can A Relationship Survive An Affair?
On the other hand I have also seen couples that have tried and have not been able to get past the hurt and heartache.
•I recommend seeking professional help for this issue to discuss and define these questions:
• Is the relationship worth saving?
• Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get your relationship back?
• What are the options
• What boundaries have been crossed?
• What are the facts?
• What do you want and what does your partner want?
• Can you forgive them?
• Can you forgive them without giving them a life sentence of torture and resentment?
If your marriage is trying to survive an affair book an appointment for marriage counselling so you can learn how to deal with it, keep your self esteem intact and learn to forgive and grow your marriage: