Reflections on Infidelity
“I gave him 17 years of my love, my youth and my life, with three beautiful children and a home that runs like clock-work. Today, I realise that you get no medals for being faithful or thoughtful. He says he no longer finds me attractive, so he’s been having an affair on the side…’
“I thought I had the most secure, comfortable marriage. I trusted him so completely, I even allowed him to go out for a weekend trip with my best friend. The next thing I knew, he asked me for a divorce—he wants to marry her.”
The situations might be different, but the truth remains the same: partners cheat. In fact, bestselling book The Monogamy Myth, authored by Peggy Vaughan, approximates that 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair at some time in their marriage.
Actually, we probably don’t even need the cold statistics to hit us any more. Everywhere you look, people seem to be ‘straying’ outside their relationships.
Of course the reasons can range from the trivial (he doesn’t enjoy movies ) to the serious (he is never there for me), most psychologists agree that infidelity happens for two main reasons:
Plain and simple boredom: in the beginning, there is magnetic attraction. Both partners put their best foot forward. You dress for him, making sure not a hair is out of place. You make the effort to cook or appreciate what he likes, . Then you tie the knot or shack up, and the magic begins to fade. Your spouse sees you with eye-gunk, toothpaste in your mouth, uncombed hair, in a shapeless nightie, and as the years pass, with a larger waistline and fewer things to talk about. Thomas Hardy described it as ‘the stale familiarity of a marriage’. If you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you’re likely to understand this only too well.
Feelings of inadequacy: A romantic relationship begins because the other person makes you feel special, beautiful, wanted. Extra-marital affairs happen when your partner no longer makes you feel that way. So, when a spouse ‘cheats,’ it is not because he or she is trying to hurt the other person—it is about seeking someone who will make themselves feel good and special again! A successful businessman who was married to a stunning model had an affair with a totally ordinary woman. When asked the reason for his choice, he said, simply, ‘She makes me feel like a king.’ That’s why, perhaps, thousands of beautiful men and women are actually very lonely people.
American marriage counsellor Dr. Ellen Kreidman urges you to rethink the way you look at infidelity: ‘Take your spouse’s act of infidelity as a wake-up call,’ she says, pointing out that no one just decides to go out one fine day and have an affair. It happens because the neglect and being taken for granted have been piling up, possibly over the course of many years.
Yes, it hurts, says Kreidman, but you could harness your pain to help you look inside and try to change what was lacking inside you. If you can work on that, your marriage/relationship could emerge stronger than ever—so secure and wonderful that nothing or noone can ever slide between you again. Yes, it is possible.
What do you think causes a partner to cheat, and what advice can you offer to someone who is dealing with infidelity? Do you have a powerful experience or a helpful insight to share?