In an ideal world, no marriage would ever have to suffer the turmoil of infidelity. Unfortunately, it happens all the time, to husbands and wives alike. What’s worse, when you consider all the events that can shake a marriage, including money problems, parental burnout, meddling in-laws, poor communication, addiction, or the collision of careers and home life, none create as big a disturbance as infidelity. Quite often, an extramarital affair will doom a marriage. This can happen immediately after discovery, or even years later, when the cheated-upon spouse finally realizes they checked out long before. The total destruction of trust, which forms the bedrock of every marriage, serves to explain the level of infidelity’s impact.
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Why Infidelity Happens
Of course, most victims of infidelity rarely experience anything close to resolution upon the confirmation of their fears. In fact, knowing the truth about an unfaithful spouse often proves just the beginning of even more questions and uncertainty. The question of “why” often proves paramount. In many cases, the cheating spouse themselves cannot even answer this question. According to psychologists, however, adultery tends to occur for the following reasons.
Emotional Disconnection: Most people are surprised to learn that emotional distance serves as the number one reason for infidelity. Cheaters typically cite loneliness and a feeling of isolation as they seek validation outside the marriage. An emotional affair may begin, in which they begin to feel appreciated. Eventually, this emotional connection will flower into a physical relationship.
Physical Gratification: It’s typical for the blast of sexual passion that defines a relationship’s honeymoon phase to dissipate. At that point, some marriages settled into a sexual rut, while others define new ways to explore sexuality as an exciting extension of personal discovery. While the latter serves to indicate a healthy marriage, the former sets up prime conditions for an affair.
Circumstantial: Believe it or not, affairs sometimes occur in relationships for neither emotional nor physical reasons. They simply develop according to circumstance. For example, one spouse might travel often for work. One night, while at a conference, they have one too many drinks at the hotel bar, and fall into bed with the flirtatious stranger who sits down next to them. These types of affairs can often prove the most damaging, simply because there is no definitive reason.
Surviving Infidelity: How Infidelity Changes You
Should a couple decide to stay together in the aftermath of infidelity, they should expect broad changes to the relationship. Every day will come with challenges, as both partners try to navigate the wreckage of their initial commitment. The victim will find it difficult, if not downright impossible, to trust their spouse. The cheater, on the other hand, may have to deal with self-esteem issues, along with a relentless sense of guilt and shame. Counseling will often prove necessary to support the marriage’s survival. The victim, in particular, can expect the following repercussions in the aftermath of an extramarital affair.
- Total Loss of Trust
- Disintegration of Confidence in Your Marriage, Your Spouse, and Yourself
- Realignment of Priorities, Including Career, Children, and Personal Goals
- Massive Shifts in Libido, Both Negative and Positive
Of course, it’s not uncommon for marriages afflicted with adultery to fail altogether. Though infidelity and divorce often seem like concomitant terms, however, statistics prove otherwise. Believe it or not, 70% of marriages with a cheating partner wind up surviving. This proves that it’s not all doom and gloom in the aftermath of an affair. Some marriages can even emerge stronger than ever. This occurs due to the intense work that both spouses must perform to keep the marriage going. Over time, this crucible can refine and evolve a marriage, make it tougher, more resilient, and, surprisingly enough, stronger than ever before.
What Are Signs of Infidelity?
It’s important to keep in mind that a cheating spouse may exhibit all the common signs of infidelity, or none at all. Every situation has its own particulars. However, commonly cited reasons to suspect infidelity include:
- Positive Changes in Personal Appearance
- Dramatically Different Attitude to the Spouse
- Emotional Distance
- Guilt-Ridden Behavior
- Odd or Unusual Behavior or Changes in Routine
- Lots of “Late Nights at the Office”, i.e. They Always Seem Busy
- Frequently Don’t Answer Their Phone or Respond Promptly to Messages
- Drastic Changes in Sexual Behavior
- The Sudden Appearance of a “New Friend”
- Extreme Defensiveness
What Do You Call Someone Who Commits Infidelity?
There are typically many names that a victim will call his or her cheating spouse. The technical term is “adulterer”, however.
Can Someone Go to Jail for Adultery?
Believe it or not, adultery is a crime in 21 states. Punishments range from a $10 fine in Maryland to three years in jail in Massachusetts.
Do Marriages Survive Infidelity?
Yes. Despite the fact that 62% of people say they would leave their adulterous spouse, 70% of marriages survive the turmoil.
Will Infidelity Happen Again?
The old adage of “once a cheater, always a cheater” is simply not true. In most cases, the work done to keep a marriage going after an affair suffices to snuff out the conditions that led to the affair. In the case of spouses who cheat time and again, sex addiction represents the most likely cause.