Marital Infidelity: How Could This Happen!

If you are the person who has been betrayed, you might find it difficult to believe that your spouse “still loves you” and/or “doesn’t understand how this happened.”  Moreover, you might have unknowingly encouraged your spouse to spend time with their infidel.

The national news provides many examples of marital infidelity in people we believed to be “good people” with integrity and loyalty.  A post mortem of “how did this happen?” reveals many common characteristics leading to an affair.  I would like to describe some of the situations and circumstances that lead to an affair and some of the attitudes that lead to an affair.

In this economy and in American society many are more career-minded than they are marriage-minded. There is nothing really wrong with being ambitious and putting in extra hours at the office for the “big project” or to get that raise.  Over time however, this attitude allows the person to become more single-minded on work task completion.  They are lovingly excused from family obligations or begrudgingly allowed to stay at work for the good of the family.  The red flag here is that the priority moves away from the family/spouse for an extended period of time to something “more important.”  (The examples of the “newsmakers” depict long-term priorities such as wars, campaigns, movies, or entertainment tours).

Here, I need to emphasize an important characteristic of how a moral person bends to an affair.  There is a long term or chronic focus on something that subtly wears away the emotional connection and allegiance to the spouse.  This shift may be accommodated or even encouraged by the other spouse in order to “keep peace,” “fill in the absence,” or otherwise support a career.  So now, both partners in the marriage are encouraging the pursuit of some worthy goal that takes them away from each other, the perfect scenario for a third party to seep into an otherwise loving marriage.  This person is typically a coworker, an adoring subordinate, or an appreciative boss.  If it is the “at-home” spouse who becomes unfaithful, it is often with someone who “fills-in” for the absent spouse (chores, listening friend, neighborly).

It is possible to recover from this betrayal.  It is not easy but, it is well worth it in most cases.  Statistics suggest that most second marriages end in divorce and most therapists will tell you there are significant trust issues for both partners when their marriage is the result of an affair.  My next blog entry will continue with attitude and behavioral changes to repair the marriage.