Lots of people are talking about affairs these days. Between Jon Edwards, Kate plus Eight without him, and now David Letterman, is it really a surprise to hear on the news that yet another politician or celebrity or religious figure has had an affair? About half of all married couples will experience infidelity over the course of their marriage. And there are MANY reasons it happens. The one thing we do know is that it does happen.
And it is never ok to blame the spouse or the marriage- that is missing the point entirely. Affairs happen for a wide variety of reasons – multiple causes include opportunity, revenge, developmental delays, addiction, personal growth, or a desire for sex. Mostly they happen when the person having the affair is looking to meet a need or desire in themselves, and if we blame the partner for that, then arent we missing a vital element here?
Breaking away from a relationship by having an affair is sometimes a way to get out, sometimes a way to deal with fear of death, sometimes a way to feel attractive, sometimes for erotic excitement, sometimes to feel loved. Sometimes infidelity happens out of boredom, because they married too young – there are a million reasons, just like there are millions of people in the world who have affairs.
Over 50% of all married men and women will have affairs at some point in their marriage, throughout 52 cultures around the globe, regardless of the laws that (in some countries) might even lead to death (for women, there are four countries where that could happen). In our country, there is more domestic violence and murder toward women who cheat when they are caught then for any other reason.
At some point, with good couples counseling, partners can choose to learn from what has happened and integrate it into the vision of a new relationship going forward. OR they can decide that this is a socially acceptable reason for breaking up.
The outcome of affairs will vary depending on the primary partners.
If infidelity happens to you, find a therapist who appears to be able to see the experience objectively, does not align with either partner, and can take you through a process of recovery to the other side. Where that other side leads you is up to you, not the therapist. A good therapist will guide you and help you make choices, but ultimately what you negotiate for your future is up to you.