Why Some Experts Believe An Affair Can Save Your Marriage

By Tiffany Anton for YourTango.com.

I recently read an article on Slate.com by Hanna Rosin titled The Upside of Infidelity: Can An Affair Save your Marriage, and it really got me thinking. My first reaction was joy at knowing therapists are changing their puritanical views of martial infidelity and realizing how our flawed self can bring us healing & reparations. I was also impressed with the idea that monogamy as a social expectation doesn’t equate our biological nature, as well as the validity of differing relationship and sexual needs. My second thought revolved around the vastness of reasoning behind affairs.

Many therapists have a list to explain the ‘whys’ of affairs. Those whose partners cheated tend to search rapidly, and in a fit of panic to find the “reason” the affair occurred. There are many, many why’s and I’ve listed several below.

More from YourTango: 4 Types Of Infidelity & How Affairs Help Marriage

Many of the ‘whys’ of affairs:

  • Situational availability
  • Need for excitement
  • Attachment issues
  • Emptiness in their marriage
  • Lack of sex at home
  • Desire to be wanted
  • An ego boost
  • An escape
  • Attention
  • Affection
  • Sexual diversity
  • Entitlement
  • Intimacy avoidance
  • An out: a way to end a marriage/relationship
  • Externally meeting your sexual and emotional needs
  • Impulsivity
  • Revenge
  • Conflict avoidance
  • and many more

By understanding the ‘why’s’ of affairs, you can look at and hopefully address the challenges in your own marriage, share your needs, and create a new and reinvigorated relationship and sexual expression.

Michael Formica, in his YourTango article 4 Types of Infidelity and How Affairs Help a Marriage, states the that “an affair can add fizz to a flat partnership what was once stale gets refreshed by a new energy.” Second, if you’re having an affair you’re probably doing it because you’re missing something in your first relationship. If you analyze the affair you might be able to see what it is that you lack, and address that problem. Finally, people tend to get into the same kind of relationship over and over again, but affairs are different. According to Formica, they can be “a more authentic barometer for what we actually need in our relationships.”

Another article Can Adultery Be Healthy? 6 Kinds of Sexual Affairs and How They Can Be Good for You by Douglas LaBier offers similar explanations. “Some affairs are psychologically healthy,” he writes. I agree. An affair can help leverage you out of a destructive or deadened relationship that’s beyond the point of renewal. It can springboard the couple into greater emotional honesty and mature action. Of course, you have to be honest with yourself here, and not rationalize yourself into having the affair while postponing necessary action.

More from YourTango: Having Sex After The Affair

An affair can spur you to confront what you really want from your existing partner and motivate you to try creating it. Larry, for example, had an affair for nearly four years. After an argument with his lover one day, he realized he was beginning to feel much of the same irritation and sexual boredom that he felt towards his wife. “This is pretty screwed up,” he said to me. “I’ve got to do something.” As he examined what he really wanted and valued, he recognized his own role in evading long-standing conflicts in his marriage.

There’s always a reason for beginning an affair, and it usually relates to some issue in your existing relationship. It’s far better to face and resolve that first. You don’t just “find” yourself having an affair, or “end up” in bed with someone. It’s your choice, but it can be rationalized. So take a look at what’s missing or unfulfilling in your relationship, why that is, and whether you can or if you even want to do something about it. It’s preferable to try renewing your relationship, or end it with mutual respect before taking up with someone new.

By acknowledging that an affair means you’re living a lie in some form, you have a greater chance to deal with the emotional and practical consequences of the affair in a healthier way. And there are plenty of consequences for yourself, your children, and your existing relationship. But if you fool yourself about the reasons for your affair and what it may set in motion, you can squander irreplaceable years, trapped within illusions and rationalizations. When it all comes crashing down, loneliness and emptiness may be all that remains.

That’s why I advocate awareness at the outset: you can become more conscious of your actions, and use that awareness to deal maturely with their consequences. Or you can remain oblivious, but then you still have to deal with the consequences!

LaBier’s article leads me to my third thought the costs of an affair. Aside from the potential to end your marriage, even affairs “undiscovered” by a partner comes with a price tag: your heart. Most affairs are short lived despite fantasies of longevity. Therefore, a posible outcome can be equated to a heartbreak that rivals the intensity of adolescent/early adulthood relationship endings.

According to Sam J Buser in the article, Why Your Affair Will Never Lead to True Love, “some research suggests that about only one in ten affairs lead to a long-term relationship. Of these, only about 10 percent are permanent. This means that there is about a one in a hundred chance that you and your affair partner will stay together for the long haul.” But that doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t there. In the article The Emotional Cost Of Infidelity, writer Pam Gerhardt notes how many people feel as though they’re falling in love. “According to researchers and eyewitnesses, thousands of people have life-changing affairs and use nearly identical language to describe the passion, betrayal and pain associated with them. “No one ever made me feel like that before.” “I wanted to kill myself.” “If I had to choose one person to live with me on a deserted island, it would be him.”

More from YourTango: Can An Affair Ever Become A Healthy Relationship?

It can create quite a whirlwind of cognitive challenges, visceral sensations, self rejection as well as exploration and growth. A Psychology Today article The Eight Reasons that People Cheat On Their Partners adds to the sentiment with the following: “Extramarital affairs clearly represent a complex mix of desire, anguish, and need for connection. Rarely are they apparently entered into without conflict or even distress. They may be the product of, or the cause of, the ending of a marital relationship. Happy couples may decide to experiment and, as Calhoun observed, find that their marriages survive intact if not improved. However, as shown in these studies, its a risky venture, not one for the faint at heart.”

Are you currently experiencing this in your life and marriage? Below are some questions that may benefit you if you’re feeling confused.

Your Sense of Self:
Who am I to make a choice that would hurt my spouse whom I still love? How do I feel good about myself? What does commitment mean to me? Can I remain monogamous? Do I need to end my relationship? Do I need an open relationship? What is empty or at void with me that I am filling in ways to go against my commitment? How do I meet my needs in respectful ways?

Challenges Your Values:
How do my values and behavior align? What do I value in marriage? Do I value monogamy? If not, it is a high value to my partner? What does my faith say about my choices? How do I understand my values and implement them in a way that doesn’t feel judgmental or suffocating? Do I tell my partner?

The most challenging times in our lives provide the greatest room for growth. The above examples of the cost of an affair can provide an excellent learning ground to reduce judgement and create a wonderful learning opportunity. Despite the ability for an affair to promote self growth and relationship enhancement, be aware that the costs are high and it’s an emotionally expensive way to learn.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com:Can An Affair Save Your Marriage? Some Experts Believe So.

431 comments

Ewen J.
Ewen J.13 days ago

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Ewen J.
Ewen J.13 days ago

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Ewen J.
Ewen J.13 days ago

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Lucy B.
Past Member 21 days ago

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Alices O.
Alices O.25 days ago

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Alices O.
Alices O.28 days ago

My names is Alice Owens am from Canada i want to use this opportunity to thank Dr guru the great doctor who bring back my husband which makes me very happy today so i could not keep the wonderful work he has done for me so i decide to share it with you all because he is real not like those who eat up my money and never do anything for me, i have 2 lovely kids for my husband, about 3 years ago my husband and i has been quarreling about some things he is doing that he had not been doing before,like keeping late at night and drinking i don't know that my husband is having a secret affair with a lady close to my street they do meet after work at one hotel,one day i felt that this is too much to bear then i confronted him one night but he did not listen instead he beat me up in front of our kids then he finally left me for the lady. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they will never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i couldn’t control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and i always wish he will come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i shouldn’t worr

Johanna D.
Johanna D.about a month ago

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Colby L.
Colby L.1 months ago

"" HOW I GOT MY EX BOYFRIEND BACK""

I want to use this great medium to thank LORD MASUKA for helping me to get my boyfriend back after he dumped me for 3 months .My boyfriend breakup with me because he see another girl at his church and told me he is no longer want me and live me in pain and heart break.I seek for help on the internet and i saw so many good talk about this great spell caster LORD MASUKA of lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com and i contacted him also and explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell for me which i use to get back my boyfriend within the period of 3 days and i am so grateful to him for the good work he has done for me,that is why i also want to let everyone who is in need of help out there to also seek help from him so he can help.His email is lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com or call +2347053105287 or view and contact him on his website:
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Colby L.
Colby L.1 months ago

"" HOW I GOT MY EX BOYFRIEND BACK""

I want to use this great medium to thank LORD MASUKA for helping me to get my boyfriend back after he dumped me for 3 months .My boyfriend breakup with me because he see another girl at his church and told me he is no longer want me and live me in pain and heart break.I seek for help on the internet and i saw so many good talk about this great spell caster LORD MASUKA of lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com and i contacted him also and explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell for me which i use to get back my boyfriend within the period of 3 days and i am so grateful to him for the good work he has done for me,that is why i also want to let everyone who is in need of help out there to also seek help from him so he can help.His email is lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com or call +2347053105287 or view and contact him on his website:
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Colby L.
Colby L.1 months ago

"" HOW I GOT MY EX BOYFRIEND BACK""

I want to use this great medium to thank LORD MASUKA for helping me to get my boyfriend back after he dumped me for 3 months .My boyfriend breakup with me because he see another girl at his church and told me he is no longer want me and live me in pain and heart break.I seek for help on the internet and i saw so many good talk about this great spell caster LORD MASUKA of lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com and i contacted him also and explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell for me which i use to get back my boyfriend within the period of 3 days and i am so grateful to him for the good work he has done for me,that is why i also want to let everyone who is in need of help out there to also seek help from him so he can help.His email is lordmasukaspelltemple@hotmail.com or call +2347053105287 or view and contact him on his website:
http://lordmasukaspelltem.wix.com/lordmasuka you can contact for any kind of help and he will help you. And you can also reach him on facebook Harry Masuka or Skype Lord masuka