Why do people have affairs? This article will explore how affairs happen and how to restore a broken marriage after infidelity.
Why Do People Have Affairs?
No one plans to be unfaithful, but it also doesn’t just “happen.” There are a number of warning signs that can alert someone to changes in the marriage. The resulting adultery can have an origin in behaviors learned in childhood. Looking back at the past can help steer the future back on track as well as starting the healing process.
A person who commits infidelity will exhibit symptoms in their behavior that are clues to a problem’s origin. A person who was raised in a loveless home, where their parents stayed together but did not know how to show love to one another or to their children, can manifest the same pattern in relationships in the future.
Without realizing it, the woman may choose a man who is much the same as her father. If the father was cold and had the tendency to push others away, she may unconsciously find a partner who ends up doing the same. Her father may have told her repeatedly that he loved her, but she felt deep down that he didn’t, based on his behavior with her mother.
Now, the husband she chose (who is much like her father) is telling her that he loves her. Does she believe it, deep down? Possibly not. She may feel, deep down, that he doesn’t really love her because she is unlovable. She may love her husband, but when she feels that her love is not reciprocated, which can start a vicious cycle.
Perhaps, for a man, a similar situation stood out in his own childhood. Perhaps he heard his mother telling his father that she loved him numerous times through the years, yet it was found out that she herself was having an affair. This teaches him that women in his future may say they love him, but that it is a false assertion.
Now he finds a woman in his life who is possibly similar in some ways to his mother (who turned out to be a liar and adulteress). That hurt young man inside him may become suspicious of his wife. That unforgiving attitude will start eating away the foundation of love that he started out with.
Perhaps the man or woman in the examples above do find a new love interest. Because the new person doesn’t yet fit the profile of someone who can reject them and hurt them, they think that they are able to get inside their partner’s head. “Knowing” (as they suppose) that the person they are married to doesn’t really love them, they turn to the new relationship.
He or she falls to the temptation and starts an affair. Not surprisingly, this new person now becomes the loved one, eventually destroying the new relationship as well. There are hundreds of stories with a myriad of variations but what it all comes down to is trust.
When Does Infidelity Raise its Ugly Head?
When a new person begins showing signs of interest and the cracks are beginning to open in the foundation of the existing marriage, there may be a response of interest in return. Human beings need love. Humans need companionship and need to engender their own line. The conscious and subconscious feelings are what conflict at this point.
The spiritual part of the conscious mind tells the person that they must not cheat, but the subconscious mind tells them they can and how to go about it. Then the animalistic part of the human being, call it the reptilian brain, tells the person that they must have that new coupling, and this is where the affair has begun in earnest.
Some of the Feelings that Bring on Infidelity
- Emotional deficiency – the spouse seems distant, the bloom is off the rose
- Erotic love – the spouse no longer holds the emotional draw as before; another person seems more engaging and open
- Loneliness – the person is tired of never being engaged by their mate, and the new someone flirts with them
- Excitement – the allure of sensual pleasure re-appears, the interaction becomes more than flirting
- Adultery – now, they have crossed the line, and mistake the new feelings for love
Infidelity Does not Happen Without a Motive
The person who cheats is emotionally wounded, sometimes as much as the spouse that was betrayed. There is a fatal flaw in the foundation that their love was based on, and trusting the cheater is no easy task. This is when a spiritual counselor can guide the couple to righting the wrongs that led to the adulterous behaviors.
Trying to cover up these feelings by saying that flirting is just part of their personality is a way of covering up for sinful thoughts. There is simply no such thing as “innocent flirting” within the structure of marriage. It is terribly easy to turn innocent flirting into a sexual encounter. Stopping the possibility of infidelity here is important. Ignoring this behavior opens the doors to losing self-respect or loss of respect for one’s mate – or both.
Seeking newness and excitement with another person is an easy trap to fall into. Once the feelings leading to infidelity start to appear, they need to be approached immediately. A spiritual counselor is available to help heal the wounds that are caused by this behavior.
From the perspective of the person who suspects he/she has come to the point where it may be too late, a counselor can start the healing process. Intellectual and emotional feelings are being compromised, and steps can and must take place in order to heal that rift in the marriage before it matures. Couples can find out more about our Christian counseling services or schedule your first risk-free session by contacting us at (424) 361-6197 or click here to contact us online.
Returning After Infidelity
Infidelity can be devastating. Trust has been shattered. Grief is felt over the loss of something that should have been precious. If a spouse cheats and the couple decides to stay together, a counselor can help to focus on healing together. There will be anger and hurt to deal with, and that kind of hurt is not resolved overnight. Counseling will help uncover the reasons that the infidelity occurred.
There is no excuse that can be given that will make the infidelity okay. Forgiveness must be found and understanding that humans are flawed needs to be acknowledged. For the person who cheated, guilt will need to be discussed during the healing process. The two will need to set boundaries when dealing with the pain and stress. Each person needs to learn to fight fair when anger comes – and it will come.
A Few Rules to Follow
- If needed, either partner can ask for a break in the conversation.
- When the pause occurs, agree on a time to return to the place at which the conversation was halted.
- Try to have these conversations in front of a counselor – there is a lot of pain in the healing process, and can easily escalate the situation.
- Remember that the feelings being experienced need to be owned. The only person who is responsible for specific feelings is the person feeling them. No blame games allowed.
- Ask about the problem that needs to be approached. If the spouse is wanting to speak about a specific thing that occurred, make sure the other person is ready to start talking about it.
- Feel free to openly admit when feelings were hurt during the discussion. Stuffing feelings down instead of working them out only hinders the healing process.
Encourage Freedom from Infidelity
When the decision was made to get married, God was made the center of the union. It’s time to recognize God’s rightful place in the marriage. Take the situation seriously. The things that caused the infidelity did not happen overnight. It accumulated through years, possibly decades before the wedding vows were broken.
Understand that the human condition will not stop you from being attracted to others. A beautiful woman or handsome man can catch one’s eye, regardless of the intent to discourage any possibility of infidelity. There is no blame in acknowledging an alluring person. However, human nature can easily encourage us to cross the line.
Just remember that it is not wrong to acknowledge that another person is attractive. What is wrong is to take any further action. Even though we are wired to react to others, whether with jealousy or sensual invitation, it is wrong to start flirting. That is what opens the door for infidelity. It’s a slippery slope to adultery. Knowing how to deal with the feeling is crucial.
Take Positive Steps
As mentioned earlier, if there is a situation from the past that is the root of the infidelity, it’s time to find counseling for that difficulty as well. Find another therapist or counselor if that is more comfortable, but don’t put off confronting the ghost in the closet.
This may be something that both spouses can attend, or go to alone if that is easier. Looking through past situations can be devastating, but facing the original obstacle will help with assuring that infidelity does not recur.
Work Toward Healing for the Future
It’s the little things that count. Remember to do those things from before, when the relationship was new. Work toward rekindling the romance, and try to fall in love again. Remember to talk to each other and hold hands. Share new ideas and goals.
Seeing God’s hand every day is a balm that can soothe thoughts and hearts. Remember that the marriage vows are still valid and that seeing the partner as unique and precious will bring back the missing spark that made marriage special to begin with.
When Healing Starts
Call us for an appointment at (424) 361-6197 and start the journey back to a happy marriage. Appointments can also be made online. There is no risk involved. This is only for a consultation to make sure to point our clients to the right therapist. Visit our website now, and start healing.
“Broken,” courtesy of Tom Butler, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Fog,” courtesy of Patrick Zacharias, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stand with Me,” courtesy of Bruno Aguirre, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Love Story,” courtesy of Scott Webb, unsplash.com, CC0 License