I sometimes receive hundreds of inquiries per month from men and women whose lives have been forever affected and changed in the middle of life. Among the most difficult of matters a married couple might endure at this time is when one of the partners has an affair.
Affairs today take on various forms from the age old jaunt with an office co-worker to virtual affairs on the internet. In midlife an affair may not even include the engagement of one’s object of affection at all and may become an emotional attachment and affair. A recent study by a UK college group determined that even online attachments carried as much weight of betrayal as physical attachment in the minds of the one betrayed. The three primary elements of an affair (secrecy, emotional intimacy, and sexual chemistry) may be present even without physical touch or contact. An emotional affair may be just as devastating to a betrayed spouse and marriage as a physical affair. Lying just goes with the territory.
This section of the website concerning affairs and betrayal is most difficult. What we aim to present in the topic “Help, I’m having an affair” is input into the betrayer’s life. There is much printed literature to be found that addresses betrayal from the betrayed spouse’s position but very little help to be found addressing the one betraying who now wishes to make things right.
“When I betrayed and then came to some realization of what I’d done I looked for help because God knows there is little sympathy or understanding dished out to a betrayer! I looked for books to help betrayers. I found two decent ones. Even in marriage counselling I was the supplicant being in the wrong and got little understanding there either. But we as betrayers have very real issues and in my estimation or anyone else reading this – we have the greater responsibility to bring recovery and healing to our marriage”
Betrayers often need to heal from the damage they encountered in the affair, try to make some sense of it all, determine why they did what they did, feel to the uttermost their sense of guilt (and sometimes shame), and while countering all have this inside, still reach out to their spouse to bring healing to their broken trust that we shattered. It is a difficult process and one that receives little acceptance socially or sympathy among peers. A betrayer seldom finds an arena to legitimately discuss their struggles while trying to restore the marriage. Today it’s not just the men but between 35 and 55 or so there are many women that go through this midlife transition that becomes a crisis in our homes. Where do you turn?
There are some things betrayers can do and initiate to bring about healing and marriage recovery that WE JUST WONT INTUITIVELY OR INHERENTLY KNOW. These key elements that betrayers can and should do are discussed on this website and in the forums.
Some men who write cannot find their way out of betrayal because they perceive the repair process as insurmountable and just stay involved in their affair and eventually divorce, and remarry into a situation that they cannot be happy in. The divorce rate of these second marriages is twice as high as first marriages. Many of these men tell us that they still love their first wife but can’t tell her so or even begin to explain their mistakes. We feel for you.
Other betrayers have discovered that their spouse has moved on AS THEY SHOULD during your affair and when you come to yourself it is too late; they have remarried or taken on a life & career that could never include you --- this is the more frequent in the past decade. The story of the mid-fifties man on a barstool with one hand clutching a photo album of memories that used to be and the other clutching a glass of what he now wants to forget is all too real today. Don’t be this person! Here we will address the pragmatic and sacrificial things you can do to change the picture.
There is often hell to pay while in an affair but for the most part they are pleasurable, intense, and exciting as long as the wall of secrecy is there. During the midlife crisis an affair is more often an antidote to our depression that produces addictive endorphins that makes one ‘feel good’ ; they often become a ‘self-medication’ to cloak depression.
Lying goes with the territory. In an affair, if you’re not lying then you have an open marriage.
As a betrayer you will soon discover that more often it is the lies told that damage the most.
Often an affair begins and appears rather innocently - two people meeting after work for coffee or drinks to end the day, and if they never tell their partners, even though it might be in a public place, their partner is not going to be happy about it. It is going to feel like a betrayal. When one of you starts confiding things to the other person that they are reluctant to confide to their partner and the emotional intimacy is greater in the friendship than in the marriage the situation becomes very threatening. What once appeared innocent just crossed a boundary. When one confides negative elements of their marriage it goes further; what that person is doing is signalling: “I’m vulnerable; I may even be available.” Sexual chemistry can occur even if the two people never touch. If one says, “I’m really attracted to you,” or “I had a dream about you last night. this increases the sexual tension between you by creating forbidden fruit in the relationship.
Three elements constitute an affair:
2. Emotional Intimacy
3. Sexual Chemistry
Lying tags along like a shadow and is part of the territory. All three of these elements may occur without even physical touch but remain a great source of betrayal.
If you are caught up in an affair and now need help to end it and recover the lost ground in your marriage then get help here. Read the next section “After the Betrayal”.