Is It Only about Sex?
Those marriages in which affairs have occurred are more likely to end in a divorce, but the affair usually is not the primary reason for it. For those involved in a relationship within which an affair occurs, it is likely that there are other problems in the relationship that need to be addressed. The affair is often a sign of longstanding problems in the relationship that have remained unresolved.
In my practice, I have found that the betrayed partner typically feels more disturbed by the betrayal of trust than the sexual acting-out. This may explain why emotional affairs may be just as painful as sexual ones for many couples. An interesting modern emotional affair is the online “cyberaffair,” which has received much attention in the press. The emotional infidelity is as important to address as an actual physical involvement.
What Can I Do if My Spouse Is Having an Affair?
If your spouse is having an affair, it is important to pause and get your emotional bearings. Decisions made in haste can bring more problems. It is essential to look beyond the pain to discover why the affair happened and then plan for the future.
Sometimes, ideas of harming self or others can emerge from the depths of depression or anger over an affair. If this is something you are experiencing, contact a licensed mental health professional at once! Professionals may be found through the local community mental health center or hospital; more immediate help may be gotten by dialing 911 and asking for assistance.
The following references may prove helpful for those who would like to read more on this topic:
After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful (1997), by Janis Abrahms Spring, with Michael Spring (New York: HarperCollins).
Affairs: A Guide to Working Through the Repercussions of Infidelity (1999), by Emily M. Brown (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).
Affair-Proof Your Marriage: Understanding, Preventing and Surviving an Affair (1998), by Lana Staheli (New York: HarperCollins).
Affairs are painful but, with help, emotional wounds can heal. Marriages may or may not end, but whatever the decision, it is important to work through the hurt and to learn from the pain.