Extramarital Affairs: What you Need to Know
By Dr. Robert Huizenga - The Infidelity Coach
Recent statistics suggest that 40% of women (and that number is increasing) and 60% of men at one point indulge in extramarital affairs. Put those numbers together and it is estimated that 80% of the marriages will have a cheating spouse and will need relationship help.
That may seem like a very steep number. However after two decades plus of providing marriage counseling, I don’t believe that number is off the charts. I worked with a great number of people involved in affairs who were never discovered.
The possibility that someone close to you is or soon will be involved in extramarital affairs (any of the three parties) is extremely high.
Maybe you will know. You will see telltale signs of infidelity cheating. You will notice changes in the person habits and behavioral patterns as well as a detachment, lack of focus and reduced productivity. Maybe you will sense something “out of character” that you cannot pinpoint.
It is not a given that the cheating spouse will tell you. Those hiding the affair will continue to hide. The “victim” of the affair often, at least initially, is racked with anger, hurt, embarrassment and thoughts of failing that preclude divulging the crisis and is focused on merely surviving infidelity.
It might be important to confront the person with your observations, depending on the status of your relationship with the person.
Cheating Husbands and Emotional Infidelity: What kind of affairs?
It is important to understand that extramarital affairs are different and serve different purposes.
Out of my study and experience with cheating husbands and hundreds of couples I’ve identified 7 different kinds of affairs.
Briefly, some affairs are reactivity to a perceived lack of intimacy in the marriage and may result in emotional infidelity. Others arise out of addictive tendencies or a history of sexual confusion or trauma.
Some in our culture play out issues of entitlement and power by becoming “trophy chasers.” This “boys will be boys” mentality is subtly encouraged in some contexts.
Marital Infidelity: different signs
Some become involved in an affair because of a high need for drama and excitement and are enthralled with the idea of “being in love” and having that “loving feeling.”
Marital infidelity might be for revenge either because the spouse did or did not do something. Or the revenge may stem from rage. Although revenge is the motive for both, they look and feel very different.
Another affair serves the purpose of affirming personal desirability. Signs of infidelity in this case are short-term and one-person affairs. And finally, some affairs are a dance that attempts to balance needs for distance and intimacy in the marriage, often with collusion from the spouse.
Surviving Infidelity and Saving the Marriage
The prognosis for survivability of the marriage is different for each. Some affairs are the best thing that happens to a marriage. Others serve a death knell. As well, different affairs demand different strategies on the part of the spouse or others. Some demand toughness and movement. Others demand patience and understanding.
The emotional impact of the discovery of the affair is usually profound. Signs of a cheating spouse usually lead to days and weeks of sleeplessness, rumination, fantasies (many sexual) and unproductivity. It typically takes 2 – 4 years to “work through” the implications. A good coach or therapist can accelerate and mollify the infidelity. I don’t recommend marriage counseling, at least initially.
The devastating emotional impact of infidelity results from a couple powerful dynamics. Trust is shattered – of one’s ability to discern the truth. The most important step is NOT to learn to trust the other person, but to learn to trust one’s self. Another is the power that a secret plays in relationships. THE secret exacts an emotional and sometimes physical toll that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.
Addressing these two dynamics as they play out in 7 different kinds of infidelity becomes the key to not merely surviving infidelity but moving the person and relationship to a new levels of understanding and intimacy.