When your other half strays from the relationship and looks elsewhere for emotional or physical needs, you might choose to end the relationship immediately or choose to remain in it. Either way, a marital affair outside has crippling effects that can be felt by both parties for some time. The emotional trauma guts your soul and more often than not, the unintentional hurt affects your kids too.
So what is an affair anyway?
No, that drunken debauchery from your brother’s Christmas party does not count (Unless you’ve been eyeing your sister-in-law for a long time. Which is another story altogether.) It’s definitely not a midnight sojourn with a complete stranger in the backpacker’s inn and it definitely isn’t a one-off clandestine affair with the foreign tourist you’re never going to see again. An affair is a sexual relationship that lasts more than one night where at least one of the lovers is publicly committed to someone else.
Pick a ballpark figure of 40% and you are pretty close to summing up the prevalent state of marital affairs in marriages. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say that both parties are more likely to have an affair than you are to divorce. Such is the state of promiscuity in the society we live in today it’s no longer a done deal when the celebrant announces John and Jane Smith are now Husband and Wife.
God gave humans the ability to feel and emote and it wasn’t until the dawn of religion did monogamy kick in. Temptations abound and we’d be lying to ourselves if we didn’t sneak another peak at the hot ass in the tight-fitting jeans.
These days it’s difficult to define what constitutes cheating and infidelity is because people have differing opinions on the subject and what they would consider appropriate or inappropriate behaviour from a spouse. As a general rule of thumb, the following points are what is deem ‘wrong’. While some couples would have no problems with the following behaviours, others might find them completely unacceptable.
• Flirt with a member of the opposite sex
• Discuss things of a sexual nature with a member of the opposite sex
• Giving gifts to a member of the opposite sex unless they are a relative
• Have sexual contact with someone other than their partner
• Chatting online with a member of the opposite sex
• Sharing personal information and feelings with someone other than their spouse.
The list is not exhaustive, but do remember some partners are extremely conservative so the onus is on you to find out what your boundaries are.
While some adventurous couples might not see anything wrong with having sex with someone else others might baulk at the mere thought of you having a business lunch with someone of the opposite sex.
Dealing with an affair
Unless the fabric of your primary relationship has experienced a breakdown, no one can come between you and your partner. It’s important to deal with the trust issues as carrying the baggage of infidelity will over time, snowball into a series of events that will force the both of you to examine the truth and deal with the confrontational effects.
Whatever the reasons are, the less time you spend analysing the whys and the hows the more time both of you would have to grow and find out what went wrong in the relationship. The things in your life that provided you with stability has been shattered, and while Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s important to know that the sense of stability comes from within yourself.
It’ll take time to heal and trust again after a marital affair, but nothing is bigger than the experience of the heart and your love and commitment to someone. It’s important to feel what you’re feeling and communicate. Confusion, bottling up your emotions, venting your anger and finding somebody to blame is all good but remember to deal with them.
Surround yourself with your friends and family. They are the buttress of support you will be relying on during this tumultuous period of your life.
Most importantly, do not blame yourself. Self-reproach is the quickest way to kill any chance of salvaging your sanity and the relationship. Not only will you fill yourself with more emptiness, your self esteem will take a bigger hit. The decision to cheat was not yours, but your partner’s.
Sure, there are problems in every relationship, but because your partner caved in and sought affections from someone else, you’re wiser and stronger than what you think you really are.