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“Dr. Spring possesses a remarkable combination of clarity, wisdom, spirit, and heart. This is an extremely helpful and healing book—a gift to us all.”
—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger
“It is ‘must’ reading for any couple who has experienced the violation of trust as a result of an affair.”
—Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.
A staggering number of couples in America—about 70 percent—have been affected by extramarital affairs. After the Affair is the only book to offer proven strategies for surviving the crisis and rebuilding the relationship. Written by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., a nationally known therapist and acknowledged expert on infidelity, this revised and updated version brings the groundbreaking classic into the 21st century, with a new section dealing with online affairs in cyberspace. For women who are struggling in their marriage—and for clinicians, psychology academics and readers fascinated by of popular psychology—this newly revised and updated edition of After the Affair is essential reading.
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Adultery is the engagement in sexual activity by a married person with someone other than her/his spouse. National Fatherhood Initiative researchers concluded that adultery is one of the three most frequently cited causes for divorce. If we examine the reasons why people commit adultery, we must consider the roles of how couples communicate and the prevalence of the large numbers of never-ending temptations that constantly surround us. In parsing several surveys of people in troubled marriages involving infidelity, we find that:
1. Adultery Stems From Lack of Intimacy and Sexual Intercourse
Most people, quite simply, equate intimacy with sex. However, intimacy actually refers to a combination of positive emotions that couples share when they are together; the lack of these feelings eventually takes its toll on any marriage. There are some elements that are critical to a healthy, long-lasting relationship, and a good sexual relationship, love, affection and mutual respect are at the top of the list. Removing any of these elements naturally increases the likelihood of adulterous behavior.
2. Lack of Communication Can Lead to Adultery
Couples face the highest risk for adultery when they start to drift apart, and this usually happens a few years after getting married. If a couple’s routine starts to interfere with their marriage, then this disruption can cause one partner (or both partners) to seek comfort and pleasure elsewhere. Of course, there are many reasons for poor communication among spouses. Personality traits such as introversion cause difficulty in making one’s feelings understood. Also, a closed-minded spouse might make little or no attempt to understand certain aspects of the other partner’s sexual desires. In fact, most people who get involved with someone outside of the marriage do so out of curiosity: they want to try something new — something they are unable to try at home.
3. Loneliness is a Prime Cause of Adultery
Everyone knows that marriage is not necessarily a cure for loneliness. In fact, married people are frequently required to be apart for long periods of time. Loneliness also occurs in married couples, when the two place more emphasis on their professional, as opposed to their personal lives. This is more of an issue in the 21st century than ever before, where many people are in a constant pursuit of the perfect, high-paid career, thus neglecting their significant-others. Finding an emotional match is not an easy task; and when two people no longer connect or share similar feelings, loneliness sets in. When loneliness takes hold, predictably, people start to look for comfort somewhere else. When loneliness is the cause of adultery, the issue is rarely related to sex, but rather to emotional comfort and support.
Lowering the Risk of Adultery
Keeping a marriage healthy and mutually beneficial is clearly a daunting task; however, loving and being loved is also one of the most beautiful feelings a human being can experience. We have determined here that the highest risk of adultery occurs when couples are no longer on the same wavelength, either from an emotional or a sexual point of view. We don’t want to trivialize this, or make it sound too simple, but couples can reduce their risks of adulterous interruptions by focusing their attentions on staying on the same wavelengths.
What are some of other factors that increase the risk of adultery creeping into a marriage? Please add your comments to this Latest Adultery Debate…
Question from Visitor:
During the recent holiday season, my husband and I attended several holiday parties. During this period, I noticed him looking at several women’s butts. He was trying to be very discrete, but I saw him. I know my butt isn’t much to look at, but I’m his wife. I am very upset. What should I do?
Answer from Suzanne:
It is a fact that men will always find some women attractive, regardless of their marital status. However, the difference is in how they choose to deal with these feelings towards other women, other than their wives. For instance, single men usually flirt with women to find long-term or short-term companionship. Married men, on the other hand, are expected to stop flirting or lusting for other women. They also must do their best to keep their interactions with women in a friendly or casual manner – nothing more than that.
When single men are attracted to other women, they tend to dwell and act on these lustful feelings. Married men should let such feelings pass and practice self-control, which could help strengthen their relationship with their wives. In your situation, it appears your husband is finding some difficulty in avoiding and confronting these feelings of lust. You can help your husband understand what is happening and prevent further problems in your marriage by doing the following:
- Make him feel desired and respected
- Communicate your feelings in a way that will not offend or ridicule your husband
- Discuss any issues that exist in your marriage. For instance, do you think you have been less intimate (physically and emotionally) in your relationship? If so, you could speak with a marriage counselor or psychologist, and you should try to discover possible reasons why your husband appears to be lusting for other women.
Keep in mind that communication is an important means of maintaining a healthy relationship. Try to find out what you and your husband want in your marriage, and seek ways to meet these goals by having a heart-to-heart talk with your partner. Moreover, do your best to feel good about yourself. Recall what your husband liked about you and work on improving yourself as you keep your relationship strong.
What do you think? Is this an issue many women face? Did Suzanne sufficiently address how to deal with the situation described by the visitor with the lusting husband? Your comments are welcome…