Being Faithful is a Decision

“I have been having an affair for eight years. I am scared to death of the prospect of being caught, but that doesn’t stop me,” writes a reader from Denver. “Every few months, I resolve to stop this affair, until my life becomes consumed with my need for sex, affection and attention.”

“I have pleaded with my husband to get help to improve our relationship, but to no avail. He claims we can solve our problems ourselves. Then why haven’t we in fifteen years?”

“Every once and a while, after not talking to me all day, he reaches over in bed for sex. How can you have intimate feelings for someone who prefers reading to talking to you?”

“My lover, on the other hand, loves to talk to me. Why do you think these men, who sleep with other men’s wives, are so successful at getting a woman to ignore all the values she grew up with? These men are artists at meeting a woman’s needs.”

“I think we could have a great marriage if my husband would give me some attention and learn to be a good lover. I know problems in a relationship are never one sided, but when one pleads for help and the other ignores the problem, he forces (me) to make a choice of divorce or infidelity. I don’t want to get a divorce. I want a good family life.”

Choosing to be faithful is a decision. You may not always feel like it. It takes a lot of self-control in not being punitive, sensitivity to the feelings of others, empathy, good impulse control, and the willingness and skills to effectively ask, and even demand that your intimate partner fulfill your needs.

Good communication, negotiation, problem solving and conflict resolution skills are important in this process, as well as a lot of patience, which is needed in order to hang in there. It is definitely not easy. It is easier for many people find someone else.

Infidelity may start as an accident, a curiosity, or as a punishment. There is an addictive quality to it, which makes it progressively harder to stop.

Once it is discovered, infidelity hits with tremendous force. It decimates your partner’s self esteem, ruptures trust, threatens the kids, destabilizes the relationship and throws the future into question. It is like a death. It is the death of the relationship’s innocence, for it will be a long time before the two of you trust each other again.


Once it is admitted or discovered, infidelity generates tremendously powerful emotions in the betrayed partner. Emotions will likely include anger, rage, the desire for revenge, and sometimes homicidal and suicidal feelings. Nothing seems to wound more than being jilted for someone else.

The betrayed person frequently obsesses about what happened, unable to get haunting images and thoughts out of their head. They are likely to question their attractiveness and desirability. Their feeling of betrayal may be so strong that it never goes away. They are likely to feel bitterly resentful, and may plunge into deep depression.

The betrayed partner my go so far as to have a revenge affair, in essence declaring that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. There is seldom joy in a revenge affair, for it is not about sex or fun. It is about wounded pride, and wanting to hit their partner where it hurts.

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