SELF HELP RESOURCE - Relationships / Marriage

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Casual affairs are becoming very common these days. There was a time when people would be very shocked at the idea of an extra-marital affair. But now, even in India, these ‘casual affairs' are heard of much more than before. But are these affairs to be taken so "casually"?

What effect does an extra-marital affair have on the marriage? Can you get back to your normal wedded life and hope nothing has changed? To answer these questions we need to define what is infidelity in a relationship. Is it only about sex or some thing more?

What is Infidelity?
Infidelity is when 'you take something that was supposed to be mine (sexual or emotional intimacy), and you give it to somebody else. I thought that we had a special relationship, and now you have contaminated it; it doesn't feel special any more, because you shared something very precious to us with someone else'.
There are gender differences. Men feel more betrayed by their wives having sex with someone else; women feel more betrayed by their husbands being emotionally involved with someone else. What really tears an individual apart is to visualize their partner being sexual with somebody else. There can be an affair without any kind of touching at all. People can have affairs on the Internet too.

Signs that a Relationship is an Affair

Secrecy
Suppose two people meet every morning at seven o'clock for coffee before work, and they never tell their partners. Even though it might be in a public place, their partner is not going to be happy about it. It is going to feel like a betrayal, a terrible deception.

Emotional intimacy
When someone starts confiding things to another person that they are reluctant to confide to their partner, and the emotional intimacy is greater in the friendship than in the marriage that could threaten the marriage. This could happen for an instance in an office situation - working people are spending a larger part of their day in office; apart from sharing their work with their colleagues, they are also seeking emotional support from their co-workers. One common pathway to affairs occurs when somebody starts confiding negative things about their marriage. What they're doing is signaling: "I'm vulnerable; I may even be available."

Sexual Chemistry
This can occur even if two people don't touch. If one says, "I'm really attracted to you," or "I had a dream about you last night, but, of course, I'm married, so we won't do anything about that," that tremendously increases the sexual tension by creating forbidden fruit in the relationship.

Lying goes with the territory. If you're not lying, you have an open marriage. There may be lies of omission or lies of commission. The lie of omission is, "I had to stop at the gym on my way home." There is the element of truth, but the omission of what was really happening: "I left after 15 minutes and spent the next 45 minutes at someone's apartment."

The lies of commission are the elaborate deceptions people create. The more deception and the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to rebuild trust in the wake of an affair. Deception makes a tremendous psychological difference to the betrayed spouse.
Some people maintain a kind of technical virginity by not having intercourse. However, even kissing in a romantic, passionate way is an infidelity. People know when they cross that line from friendship to affair.

What an Extra-Marital Affair does to the Marriage

Extra-marital affairs are so deeply wounding because you have certain expectations and assumptions about your marriage- That I chose someone, and the other person chose me; we have the same values; we have both decided to have an exclusive relationship, even though we may have some problems. We love each other - and therefore I am safe.

When you find out your partner has been unfaithful, everything you believe in is totally shattered. And you have to rebuild the world again. This could be quite traumatic. It is terribly hurtful. The wounding results because -- 'I thought I finally met somebody I could trust'. It violates that hope or expectation that you can be who you really are with another person.

Affairs really aren't about sex, they're about betrayal. Imagine you are married to somebody very patriotic and then find out your partner is a spy. Someone having a long-term affair is leading a double life. Then you find out all that was going on in your partner's life that you knew nothing about: gifts that were exchanged, phone calls and letters that were written, trips that you thought were taken for a specific reason were actually taken to meet the partner he was having an affair with.

To find out about all the intrigue and deception that occurred while you were operating under a different assumption is totally shattering and disorienting. That is why people then have to get out their calendars and go back over the dates to put all the missing pieces together: "When you went to the conference in February and said that you had to stay back two more days as something had come up and didn't come home for one week, what was really happening?"
Some people are more devastated if everything was wonderful before they found out. When a betrayed spouse who suspected something says, "I don't know if I can ever trust my partner again," it is reassuring to tell  them that they can trust their own instincts the next time they have those storm warnings.

Latest Comments

jayantsingh on 26 Oct 2015, 08:58 AM

well said .. :)