Guilt sometimes sets in right after the first sexual encounter, and it continues to build as one lie is added to another. Depression follows guilt and it’s not unusual for a wayward spouse to even consider suicide as a way to escape the nightmare he or she has created. As an act of desperation, honesty is sometimes seized as a last resort, often in an effort to relieve the feelings of guilt. The revelation of an affair is very hard on an unsuspecting spouse, of course, but at the same time, it’s the first step toward marital reconciliation. Most unfaithful spouses know that their affair is one of the most heartless acts they could ever inflict on their spouse. So one of their reasons to be dishonest is to protect their spouse from emotional pain. “Why add insult to injury,” they reason. “What I did was wrong, but why put my spouse through needless pain by revealing this thoughtless act?” As is the case with bank robbers and murderers, unfaithful spouses don’t think they will ever be discovered, and so they don’t expect their unfaithfulness to hurt their spouse. But I am one of the very few that advocate the revelation of affairs at all costs, even when the wayward spouse has no feelings of guilt or depression to overcome. I believe that honesty is so essential to the success of marriage, that hiding past infidelity makes a marriage dishonest, preventing emotional closeness and intimacy. It isn’t honesty that causes the pain, it’s the affair. Honesty is simply revealing truth to the victim. Those who advocate dishonesty regarding infidelity assume that the truth will cause such irreparable harm, that it’s in the best interest of a victimized spouse to go through life with the illusion of fidelity. It’s patronizing to think that a spouse cannot bear to hear the truth. Anyone who assumes that their spouse cannot handle truth is being incredibly disrespectful, manipulative and in the final analysis, dangerous. How little you must think of your spouse when you try to protect him or her from the truth. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
To cheat oneself out of love
is the most terrible deception;
it is an eternal loss
for which there is no reparation,
either in time or in eternity.
Most affairs depend on repeated contacts and evidence of those contacts can usually be found. That’s how M.S. discovered her husband’s affair. When his lover was living in the same city, he was able to hide his affair, but after he moved, it became almost impossible for him to keep his communication a secret. He was addicted to daily contact, and M.S. saw evidence of it almost immediately after the move. But how many people move away from a lover? It’s very rare, and if M.S.’s family had not moved, she may never have discovered the affair because she trusted her husband. When a couple spend their leisure-time away from each other, it is not only a breeding ground for an affair, but it can also be another clue to an affair. That’s especially true when a spouse doesn’t want the other to be present at their favorite activity. Anything that takes one spouse away from the other overnight is an invitation for an affair. Any evidence that this relationship is anything more than pure business is, from my perspective, a gigantic clue that an affair might be in progress. That’s also the case if a spouse and opposite-sex co-worker spend a great deal of time working together. We are all wired to have an affair. We can all fall in love with someone of the opposite sex if that person meets one of our emotional needs. If you don’t think it can happen to you because of your conviction or will-power, you are particularly vulnerable to an affair. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
Almost everyone denies an affair at first, even when confronted with overpowering evidence. When a woman I counseled broke in on her husband having sex with a neighbor, he tried to convince her that she was having a hallucination. While seeing your spouse in bed with a lover is sure-fire evidence of an affair, that kind of evidence is usually close to impossible to find. But there are many other less intrusive ways to detect ongoing affairs. For an unfaithful spouse to engage in an affair without detection, two separate lives must be created, one for the lover and one for the spouse. A certain amount of dishonesty is required in both of them, but the major deception is with the spouse. So one of the most common clues of an affair is an unwillingness to let a spouse investigate all aspects of life. If two lives are necessary for an affair, and if a spouse is curious enough, the secret second life is relatively easy to discover. Difficulty in getting a spouse to talk about events of the day can be a sign of trying to hide the second life. One of the most common smoke-screens used by unfaithful spouses is to express shock that their spouse would be so distrusting as to ask questions about their secret second life. They try to make it seem as if such questions are an affront to their dignity, and a sign of incredible disrespect. They figure that the best defense is a good offense, and so they try to make their spouses feel guilty about asking too many questions. I am a firm believer in letting each spouse do as much snooping around as they want. Nothing should be kept secret in marriage, and no questions should be left unanswered. If a spouse objects to such scrutiny, what might he or she be hiding? From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
The cruelest lies are
often told in silence.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Unfaithful spouses usually don’t want their marriages to end, and yet they want emotional needs met that the spouse does not meet. Discovery of the affair, in most cases, would ruin the “solution” to their problem. But there comes a time in almost every affair that an unfaithful spouse realizes that it has run its course, or it wasn’t a good idea to begin with. In some cases, it’s the lover who ends the relationship, finding that the spouse isn’t living up to expectations. And in other cases, it’s the spouse that ends it when the disadvantages of the affair begin to outweigh the advantages. In most cases, affairs end peacefully and in secret. By their very nature, there is not much of a commitment to hold them together, and a desire to do the “right thing” is usually the excuse an unfaithful spouse uses to end it. But the real reason is usually that the affair has become more trouble than it’s worth. Occasionally, a scorned lover will go berserk, call the spouse all hours of the day and night, file lawsuits and create all kinds of trouble. But that’s very rare. Affairs usually end quietly. In the vast majority of cases, affairs are never revealed to spouses. They are usually kept so secret that even when children are born of an affair, the victimized husband is usually not told that the child he is raising is not really his. I know of over 20 instances where a father is unknowingly raising another man’s child. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
Marriage is not a simple love affair,
it’s an ordeal, and the ordeal
is the sacrifice of ego
to a relationship in
which two have become one.
Some affairs are “one night stands.” They usually take place when a spouse is away on a trip, or when one has gone out partying without the other spouse. These relatively loveless affairs usually happen when people drink and lose impulse control. Alcoholics are the ones most likely to have these flings. Other affairs start as a caring friendship and develop over years to become a complete relationship that solves most emotional and practical issues for the couple. These relationships become so complete and persistent that spouses are eventually divorced, and the lovers are united in marriage. But most affairs are somewhere in between one night stands and relationships that lead to marriage. Affairs usually take place because they meet important “emotional needs”. But most affairs meet only some emotional needs not met in marriage, leaving others that are being met by a spouse. That fact usually rules out the possibility of divorce, at least for the spouse having the affair. The wayward spouse knows that the lover, for some reason, is not able to meet some of the needs met by his or her spouse. So most affairs are never intended to lead to divorce and remarriage, but are “safety-valve” relationships that satisfy a need not met in marriage. Having drawn the above conclusion about the nature of affairs, it should be obvious why most wayward spouses would like their affairs to go undetected. Not only do they want to avoid all the unhappiness that goes with discovery, but they also want to continue the affair as long as it meets needs not met in marriage. In most cases, a lover only meets one or two emotional needs, while the spouse meets others. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
If you cheat on someone
who is willing
to do anything for you,
you actually cheated yourself
out of true loyalty.
The unsuspecting jilted spouse usually senses a problem when an affair begins. For one thing, an affair usually takes up quite a bit of time, and all sorts of excuses are given to be away from home — having to work late, impulsive trips to the store and unexplained absences from work — they all become more and more difficult to believe. Telephone records and credit card receipts are carefully hidden, for if they are found, they will often reveal the scope of the affair. When the spouses are together, an emotional distance usually prevails. Sex is almost always a problem for women who are having an affair, and many men having an affair find they cannot make love to their wives, either. In many cases, intimacy in marriage becomes so bad that a separation is requested to “sort things out.” An affair is often suspected by the jilted spouse, but almost always vigorously denied by the offending spouse. It usually takes solid evidence… to get an unfaithful spouse to admit the truth. I’ve seen so many spouses lie about affairs, that when one spouse wants a separation, my best guess is that he or she is having an affair. I’m right almost every time. Why would anyone need to be alone to sort things out? It makes much more sense to think that being separated makes it easier to be with their lover. Granted, there are many good reasons for a separation, such as physical or extreme mental abuse. But of all those I’ve seen separate, most have had lovers in the wings. Since an affair usually creates emotional distance between spouses, lovers describe their increasing dissatisfaction with their marriages. They talk about how incompatible they are in marriage and how compatible they are with each other. The addiction they have for each other turns the relationship into a passion that makes an eternal relationship with each other an absolute necessity. Many would rather commit suicide together than to return to their horrible spouses. “Coping With Infidelity” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5059_qa.html
A love affair is like a short story–
it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The beginning was easy, the middle might drag,
invaded by commonplace, but the end,
instead of being decisive and well-knit
with that element of revelatory surprise
as a well-written story should be,
it usually dissipated in a succession
of messy and humiliating anticlimaxes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
You or your spouse are more likely to have an affair than you are to divorce. And your chances of divorce are already 50-50. An affair is devastating to almost everyone involved. It’s one of the most painful experiences that the jilted spouse will ever be forced to endure, and it is also very painful for the children. Friends and members of the extended family are usually hurt as well. But what most people don’t realize is that the unfaithful spouse and the lover are also hurt by the experience. It almost always causes them to suffer acute depression, often with thoughts of suicide. With all this sadness, why do so many people do it? Affairs are almost always with friends and co-workers. That’s because the people you work with and those you spend leisure time with are usually in the best position to meet your most important emotional needs. But in the world of the internet, total strangers can also meet your emotional needs through chat rooms and e-mail because they meet your need for conversation so effectively. Do you and your spouse talk as much and as deeply as you talk to people on the internet? If not, watch out. As you probably know, an affair through the internet is becoming one of the most dangerous risks of owning a computer. We are all wired for affairs. The only people who are exempt are those who are utterly incapable of meeting someone else’s emotional needs. If you can’t meet anyone’s needs, no one will ever fall in love with you. But if your spouse has anything to offer others, and you are not meeting an important emotional need, commitment to “forsake all others” can become words without meaning. From “Coping With Infidelity” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5059_qa.html
There are all kinds of ways
for a relationship to be tested,
even broken, some, irrevocably;
it’s the endings we’re unprepared for.
From “Not To Us” By Katherine Owen