According to (2001), Years ago, the rules within a marriage were different; easier, many would say husbands worked to support their family, and wives took care of the home and children. “Fulfilling yourself” was not a purpose of marital life. Today, however, we expect personal growth within marriage and companionship with our spouse, as well as meeting all the demands of our roles. Couples balance two careers, take care of their children and keep up with their home, and increasingly, care for aging parents. Women are still primarily responsible for children and most now work outside the home, while men are expected to be “sensitive” as well as a good breadwinner. Even sex with a spouse has pressure-how often, how many, what kind of orgasm.
Many people seek an outlet for their pressures. The more athletically predisposed may join gyms and fitness centers, while others take classes or meditate and do yoga, and antidepressants, are hardly uncommon. Some people engage in behavior which ultimately adds to their troubles – drinking or drugging. And, some have an affair. , 2001).
All of us want to feel good about ourselves, and if you don’t feel that way, you may seek it from another person. Of course, you don’t “get” self-esteem by having someone give it to you, rather, self-esteem develops early in life and is shaped during your lifetime. But for the short-term, a lover makes you feel good about yourself.
A lover often gives a person the courage to do something he or she couldn’t do alone, which is to ask their spouse for a divorce. Often, a person does not start out intending to have an affair. It may have been the furthest thing from their mind, but, once involved, they believe they can keep the affair in one little corner of their life. A person may feel they are not hurting anyone. An affair often enables the person to be more sexually adventurous and to express their sexuality – in ways not done with their spouse. The results are heady.
I’ve listed the primary reasons for having an affair, but keep in mind that some of the reasons exist simultaneously. In fact, rarely is there a single reason why a married person has an affair; rather, there’s a combination of reasons.
The Primary Reasons for an Affair
- Romantic Love
- Mid-life Crisis
- Soul mate
- Lesbian/Gay Orientation
By definition, affairs are exciting; a new lover’s desires, intense eye contact and lorry kisses, the secret meetings colored by the danger of getting caught. There affair is driven by a desire to put excitement and adventure into a life that feeling boring.
The marital relationship may not be the only reason for the boredom, but it’s an easy target. Boredom is likely caused by a number of things; work is tedious, the daily routine tiresome, and the spouse and, well, life, itself is too predictable. Rather than work on improving these, the affair brings excitement.
2. ROMANTIC LOVE
A search for love is the stereotypical reason many people believe a married woman has an affair, that she wants flowers sent to her when it isn’t her birthday or anniversary that she yearns for dinners in hide-a-way restaurants, and seeks meaningful glances and soft kisses. As a society, we believe in the power of romantic love, and this is true of men as is of women. After years of watching Casablanca, men and women long for the romance they see on the screen. An affair can be the spark of romantic love with another person.
Your fantasies come to life. The stereotypical reason people believe a married man has an affair is for sex; that a man wants more sex than his wife does, or more variety, that, biologically that men are sexually promiscuous. These attitudes ignore the behavior of many women.
4. MID-LIFE CRISIS
Midlife is a time many seek “meaning” in their life. It’s not unheard of for that meaning to take the format of a lover. A married person experiencing a mid-life crisis wants change in their life, whether it’s a different life, a kind of life, or more out of their life. Some are simply unhappy with their life. You’ve heard the stories – middle aged man buys a little red sports car, a woman starting menopause dresses like her 15 year old daughter.
There are many ways that clients express anger. One client got back at his wife by having a affair because his wife had one. He was shocked when she asked for a divorce when she found out. Anger is such a common reaction for so many things that happen in a relationship. Sometimes anger is justified.
Married couples spend their free time together, which might be fine for one person, but the other spouse may feel suffocated. For that spouse, an affair provides an escape—gives someone an avenue to separateness.
Thelma and Louise may be dead, but in many hearts, they live on. For a married woman who feels trapped in her roles of wife and homemaker, the movie hit a nerve and, of course, there was an affair along the way. Years before and after Thelma and Louise, men escaped their married life by running into another woman’s arms.
I think this reason speaks for itself. Last winter, a client told me, “when I sit on the couch with my husband, I feel lonely, and yet he’s with me. I’d rather be all by myself, then it would make sense that I’m lonely”. Many men and women hope their spouse will take away their loneliness, and when that doesn’t happen, some end their loneliness with a lover.
Obsession is best described as an addiction to another person. For that man or woman, thoughts of their lover pervade virtually every hour of their life. They yearn to be with the object of their obsession though sometimes, the person isn’t their lover, and their unrequited love may create more of an obsession.
9. SOUL MATE
A soul mate is a person who so complements and shares your thoughts and worldview that you believe you were meant to be together. When someone finds a lover who understands them because they share so much and are so alike—it’s a powerful draw.
There are gay men and lesbians in heterosexual marriages. There are many reasons lesbians and gay men stay married, and some mirror the reasons that heterosexuals stay together: they want to keep their family intact, or don’t want to hurt their spouse. They have an affair because they want a sexual relationship with someone of their own gender, and most end up coming out, and divorce their spouse. , 2001)