Why Was Husband Unfaithful?
Dear Neil: My husband of thirty-one years has been having an affair. He was seen by a neighbor at a society function when he was supposed to be at a business conference, so when I confronted him with the information I had, he acknowledged he was seeing another woman.
This is an extremely difficult situation for me to accept. We have spent a total of 35 years together, have four wonderful grown children, and really had a happy and good marriage, or at least I thought so. What would drive a man to do this? Is our marriage over, or can we do things to repair the bond? I love him and do not want to get a divorce, but I also know I can’t be the only one who is willing to act married.
Dear Denver: Affairs matter because they touch on issues that are central to relationships, such as trust, honesty, fairness, secrecy, credibility, desirability and attractiveness. I’m not sure what ruptures trust between in a relationship more: sex with someone else, or the deception involved in having sex with someone else, but that which makes one person’s credibility and trustworthiness suspect in the eyes of the other is going to affect their relationship a lot.
Affairs seem to be almost as common among women as among men. An affair may be an expression of different interests, such as one person wanting security and stability—and the other person wanting excitement, adventure and new experiences. Having an affair is the way some people search for the emotional nurturance, affection, attention and love that they feel they are not getting in their primary relationship.
An affair might be a very strong statement one partner makes to the other, in essence saying that something is really wrong is the relationship. It may be a sign that the relationship has grown distant or boring, or that one partner needs to verify that they are still considered attractive and desirable.
An affair could be a way to attempt to re-negotiate issues in a relationship, like who gets their way—and the price to be paid if they don’t get their way.
Some people find they can’t tolerate too much intimacy, and an affair is one way of keeping yourself from feeling too close, controlled or smothered by another.
Since sex feels intimate, it is easy to fool yourself into thinking that someone you’re having an affair with is, in fact, someone with whom you are close. Far more often, the affair keeps you from being too close to the person you are married or committed to.
If you are struggling with issues around an affair, be willing to examine the following questions:
- How has the relationship between the two of you grown distant? What can the two of you do about it?
- What lessons can be learned from the experience?
- What do the two of you need to do differently in order to protect your relationship from this happening again?
- The two of you may need to re-learn how to play together and have fun with each other.
- What are the common goals and interests the two of you share?
- What amends need to be made? To Whom?