It’s unlikely that anyone just wakes up and decides to have an affair. Marital infidelity destroys relationships and bring a whole host of problems to the table. So, why do people have affairs? The true roots of the act of infidelity are usually found in the most unlikely places and often even stem back as far as childhood.
Imagine, if you will, a little girl who has a distant and dictatorial father. He never shows interest in her such as attending her recitals or sports events. Her mom is only half-present and is engulfed with her own problems. Although her father professes his love for his daughter, it is hardly evident. She doesn’t truly believe she is loved.
The girl meets a man when in her early twenties. She falls head over heels for him and they get married. The problem is unfinished business. He is much like her father. He professes his love, just as her father did, but he doesn’t show it.
At work, however, she meets a man who she has a lot in common with. They both love music. Her husband doesn’t care for music, especially the kind she likes. She begins to take offense to her husband’s lack of interest in music as if he is not interested in her. She starts to crave the attention the man at work shows her and her love for music. The scene for an affair is set into play.
Consummating the relationship is only icing on the cake. The attention she laps up is due to the unfinished cycle that was begun by her father’s lack of attention. If she actually leaves her husband, the cycle will probably continue with the new man in her life. It will certainly not solve the problem although don’t expect her to see this.
We all have different defensive and narratives that are carried over into our marriages. It is difficult to see them without the help and guidance of a counselor. Often, it takes one of the partners in a marriage having an affair in order to bring it all to light. But, there is hope even after the affair, especially in a therapeutic setting.
Love’s Overwhelming Power
Humans are hardwired for bonding. When we’re attracted to a person, we naturally respond, physically and mentally, as if we are mating with them. It takes no effort or thought. It just happens. Our capillaries begin to expand, our pupils dilate, blood flows and our pulse picks up the pace. At times, love can literally take your breath away. The reaction is a response from our reptilian brain, ready to spring into action and procreate without a second thought.
If we are acting on an emotional or physical level, we may mistake the feelings for love. The fact is – love takes time to develop and to foster. It is, in actuality, a deep-seated attachment. Erotic love, however, is one that is fired by lust and it inevitably will leave you feeling empty and void, more so with each and every relationship. Those who spring from one lover to another tend to be very lonely.
The Composition of Infidelity
Infidelity occurs when a motive gives way to desire. Then, opportunity turns into action. As it is with all sin, no one would take part in infidelity if a payoff wasn’t involved. Aside from the rather obvious benefit, an affair is a relief to the wounded person deep inside. Furthermore, the thrill of doing something that is taboo serves to heighten the erotic energy, very similar to a person doing drugs or any other forbidden action. Adrenaline plays a huge role which further complicates the entire situation.
Sin, no matter what the nature of it, is a counterfeit, or knock-off, of something that God designed to be good. Infidelity is certainly no exception. As in addiction, sin works only for a short time and then, the consequences set in. The marriage falls apart, children are hurt, guilt becomes almost unbearable, jobs may be lost, homes are wrecked and the list goes on and on.
The Beginnings of Infidelity
Flirting leads to trouble and that is the bottom line. There’s no such thing as harmless flirtation if you’re married. Although some try to pass flirting off as a characteristic of their personality, it is a dangerous thing to take part in. Someone is going to get hurt.
Flirting can lead to acting out the thoughts and desires. It takes only one instance of being in a vulnerable place, physically and/or emotionally. Maybe you and your spouse are fighting or you haven’t been intimate in a while and you are wide open for flirting to turn into something far more.
Perhaps you are annoyed with your spouse’s preoccupation with his or her work. You have been feeling neglected. You sink a little further into your own job and sign up to go to a seminar. While out of town at the hotel, you become a little too friendly with a co-worker who you find yourself attracted to.
The feeling is obviously mutual. When the rest of the group retires for the evening, the person of interest asks you to go have a drink. You know that you’ll be flirting with danger if you do but there’s a moment you share looking deep into one another’s eyes. Isn’t that a sign? Perhaps it was meant to be.
Taking the moment any further is surely asking for trouble. We are naturally drawn to certain individuals but if you are not both single and in a position where the attraction might lead to a God ordained marriage, it is a counterfeit. You can etch that on your heart, no matter what your mind and body may be screaming to your head.
Rest assured we all have the uncanny knack for overlooking or downright ignoring the fact that we know flirting is wrong. We are pros at justifying such actions and end up going down the path of destruction. We also possess the ability to not succumb to temptation though, no matter how poor of a shape our marriage may be in or any other circumstances surrounding the situation.
God has better plans for us than for our marriage to end in heartache. We need to focus on our marriage vows and God’s desire for our union. When you or your spouse feels unloved, problems will surely creep in. An affair is likely to happen unless help from a professional is sought. If an affair has already taken place, counseling can still help mend your marriage. Remember, there is always hope in Christ.
After the Affair – Coming Back
Infidelity is crushing and devastating. It should be. If there were no such feelings the marriage would have been null and void in the first place so the hurt and pain are to be expected. It can be very difficult to come back and face all the heartache though.
In the event that your spouse cheated on you but the two of you decide to try and make it work, you’ll no doubt need a professional. You will most likely be angry, and rightly so. You will feel hurt and betrayed too. A therapist can help you work through all the negative emotions.
There isn’t an excuse for betrayal but there can be things that lead up to it or childhood issues that were never dealt with which played a part in it all that can help you to better understand how such an unthinkable thing could happen.
If you were the one who cheated, it is probably that you are eaten up with guilt. You may have to wait a while before your spouse can work through the pain and come to forgive you. It is all part of the consequences you will face. But, if you want to restore your marriage and hopefully make your relationship even stronger, you will be willing to work through it.
Coming back after infidelity isn’t easy. It’s hard work, but if you are both willing to be compassionate and to stand together to overcome, your marriage can be much deeper than ever before.
Affair-Proofing Your Marriage
Although there is really no such thing as an infidelity-proof marriage, there certainly are things you can do to lower the risk. Here are a few great things that can help:
Invite God’s Presence Daily
God takes marriage vows to heart. He cherishes your love and your relationship together. Don’t forget to ask daily for his help. Ask Him to help you become less selfish and to set healthy boundaries.
Take Infidelity Seriously
Keep in mind the fact that we, as humans, are wired to respond to attraction on many levels. If you feel the slightest bit of response, such as a fluttering heart or eye connection, nip it in the bud. Don’t feel guilty. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you simply admit the issue and deal with it.
Have the Willingness to Establish Boundaries
It is imperative to set boundaries, even if you may be embarrassed about doing so. If hugging causes problems for you, it’s important to establish a boundary in that area. No matter how trivial it may seem, anything that is a small problem now can become a mammoth one later on so never hesitate to draw the line, sooner rather than later.
Do Your Emotional Work
Unprocessed emotional based trauma of your past is likely to resurface, time and time again. It is important to find a counselor so you can begin to uncover and work through it. The more that you understand and discover, the more you’ll be able to improve. You’ll find out how to set new boundaries and keep them and how to establish solid, healthy bonds with your loved ones too.
Love Takes Work
Someone who is familiar to us often brings comfort. There is something special in someone knowing us, inside and out. On the same token, being familiar can bring about complacency and can send us drifting into uncharted, dangerous waters. That’s why it is important to put work into your love relationship. It is worth the time and trouble.
Remember those things which you once enjoyed as a couple and try to get into those things again. Send cards, be romantic and be thoughtful of anniversaries and birthdays. Recall the things you loved about your partner and work to rekindle the spark.
Since nothing will fit in a closed fist it is important to hold everything, including your spouse, lightly. Release him or her to God’s care. Acknowledge that you cannot control them. You can, however, give them what they need most from you – your love and presence.
Learning to see your spouse and your spouse as wonderful, unique, and amazing creations of God will cover a multitude of heartaches and sins. When you find value and learn to appreciate your spouse, a whole new world will unfold. Your relationship is a miracle and with the help of a professional, the two of you can continue your journey forward, hand in hand.
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