Friday, September 25, 2020

‘Are there worse things in marriage than infidelity?’

There is this television programme, Cheaters, that features two guys, Joey Greco and Tommy Grand, who occupy ringside seats as they trail love cheats and facilitate confrontations between cheated spouses and their cheating partners.

It’s not amusing to see cornered spouses totally helpless, submerged in floods of television lights and with no escape route.

Instead of putting 100 percent of our effort in finding irrefutable proof against our spouse, wouldn’t our energies be better spent understanding what went wrong in our marriage or relationship in the first place?

When men talk about “a new signing” or “the latest acquisition” they are not talking about a footballer moving from Notwane to Mochudi Center Chiefs.
Infidelity is big business. Billions of people indulge in it on one level or other.

Infidelity is painful. Adultery is ugly. But both make beautiful money!
Ask the lawyers.

“The fact that affairs are wrong, even considered to be a sin, has been ingrained into us through our social, cultural and religious upbringing,” says Debbie Layton-Tholl, Clinical Psychologist and writer (Extramarital Affairs: What is the Allure?) . “Yet despite the social and religious disapproval of them, they have been an ever present phenomenon for us to deal with.”

She points out that monogamy is “one of the most universal aspects of the marriage union to be perpetuated cross-culturally.” Yet, despite this proclivity towards marriage, and insistence that the marriage partners remain monogamous, “human beings have been engaging in non-monogamous activities throughout history.”
Relationship Health Check says recent studies show that around 45 percent of married women and 60 percent of married men are unfaithful at some time or another during their relationship.

“We know that ‘extramarital affairs’ have been going on since the advent of the socially sanctioned union,” says Layton-Tholl. “Our historical concern about affairs is evident in the inclusion of extramarital affairs as one of the sins mentioned in the Ten Commandants.”

She goes on to question why so many people have affairs despite such powerful social and religious doctrines against them.
She offers that “there have been as many reasons given for affairs as there are people engaging in them.”

“Some of these (reasons) include dissatisfaction with the marital relationship, emotional emptiness, need for sexual variety, inability to resist new sexual opportunity, anger at a partner, no longer being “in love”…etc.
She contends that some people have even said that human beings simply can’t maintain monogamous sexual relationships over long periods of time because it “isn’t natural”.

Infidelity is “a breach of faith” that occurs when “any of the mutually agreed-upon rules or boundaries of a relationship are violated.”
But what constitutes ‘an act of infidelity’ varies between and within cultures and “does not depend on the presence of sexual behaviour”.
Greco and Grand would have no business in Africa.

Adultery is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse” and it is prevalent nowadays, not only in Botswana but worldwide.

In southern Africa, when a married woman has voluntary sexual relations with someone it is bombs over Tokyo.
Yet, tradition does not necessarily punish a married man who has sexual relations with an unmarried woman. It’s the woman, married or single, who gets ostracised.

But what leads to adultery or infidelity?
Layton-Tholl says that the loss of the high level of passion and desire that existed in the beginning of the relationship may result in boredom or develop into a feeling of apathy towards the partner.

“Combined with all of the other stresses and complexities of long term relationships, such as financial problems, raising children, job changes, death of family members, change in status, etc., the loss of passion may lead to a desire to rediscover it in the start of a new relationship.”
But she goes on to say that extramarital affairs may be the result of “an inability to maintain a satisfying emotional relationship with a partner over a long period of time, and not due to a need for sexual variety”.

I took note of the word “emotional”.
Whether it is our expectation that passion remains or it is our inability ‘to easily maintain passion in long term relationships’, she says, the loss of passion appears to be a major factor in the initiation of affairs.
“And once initiated, the high level of passion experienced in affairs appears to be a powerful component in maintaining them’.

So why do people cheat?
Well, for starters, if you aren’t meeting your spouse’s needs, they will find someone else who will. Cruelly simple but true.

Larry Bilotta, writing in Buzzle.com, says that every couple goes into marriage with expectations of each other that are ‘never clearly discussed’.
Thus, cheating spouses cheat because they’re in search of “unmet, yet unspoken, deep emotional needs”.

Rather than admitting and accepting that there’s a problem in their marriage, Billota says, cheating spouses look for someone else to fulfill their needs.
“These ‘needs’ could be anything from a physical connection to strictly intellectual relations leading to an emotional affair.”

He, however, points out that his research indicated that extramarital affairs, based solely on desire for new sexual partners, “are a very small percentage of the total number of affairs” and adds that a majority of respondents in his study reported that the affair was based on emotional needs not being met within the marital relationship, and not sexually motivated reasons.

Layton-Tholl concludes that the allure of extramarital affairs is not new sexual experiences, nor are they due to any biological inability to remain monogamous but, rather, what drives many individuals to become involved in extramarital affairs is a lack of emotional fulfillment within the existing relationship.

“The indication is that the desire for a new sexual experience is not the initial motive for looking outside the marriage, but rather comes after the breakdown of the emotional relationship,” she says.
She, however, cautions that this does not mean that the sexual passion experienced within an affair is not part of the driving force that maintains affairs.

“It is quite possible that the patterns of behavior that lead to affairs may be very different from the patterns that maintain them.”

In the early stages of infidelity, the cheating partner is more attentive to their partner.

“This is due to guilt that the cheater may be feeling at the time,” says C.R. “Bob” Brown, a hardened master investigator who has seen it all among cheating spouses.

After the affair has been going on for a while, he says, “the person cheating seems to find fault with the person he/she may be living with to try to justify the affair in their mind.”

Among other signs, he says, the cheating spouse may have a change in sex life (i.e. more sex, less sex) as well as unexplained sexual requests. Grooming habits will change as cheaters become more attentive to their person (i.e. the way they dress, frequent bathing, physical fitness, grooming of their hair, switching of colognes, etc…).

Female cheaters are, however, more discreet in the selection of a lover. This is most likely because of their concern of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Brown says that when a female is having an affair, she tends to have more of a “glow” about her.

“In past years, men were the aggressors; in society today, with the increase of women in the work force, women have become equally aggressive.”

But after you trap your spouse and find proof that there is cheating going on, what do you do? Walk away from the relationship?

Pamela Druckerman (Is Anyone Faithful Any More?) remembers one Monica Lewinsky who invaded one of the world’s best security to frolic with a sitting American president.

The wronged spouse, the then First Lady Hilary Clinton, a lawyer, thought of leaving her husband but later reconsidered saying that “there are worse things in marriage than infidelity.”

With husband on her side, she is now running for the presidency in her own right.

When faced with such a situation, remember that the more you try to persuade, convince or pursue, the more strongly he/she will attach to the other person. Your partner will perceive your efforts as weakness.

Dr Huizenga, (How to Break Free from the Affair), advises against using moral or religious arguments to call a halt to the affair.

“Your spouse is not guided by rightness or wrongness…,” says Huizenga. “The actions and thoughts of your spouse primarily originate from their need to attach to another person.”

Thankfully, couples can and do get over infidelity, say Doctors Steven Solomon and Lorie Teagno, clinical psychologists who specialize in philandering. “Not only can they overcome it so that it no longer has a significant negative impact on their relationship, but they can use it to spur them to work on their relationship.”

And, oh, yes, my wife and I watch that Cheaters programme.

I find it interesting. Those disgusting and romantic things that people do! Out of my wife’s view, I smile at the ladies the cheaters frolic with. Gosh, some people have all the luck!

My wife only likes the confrontation part of the programme when men are literally caught with their pants down. She cheers as if the Zebras had beaten Brazil.

Men love to have girlfriends but when a girlfriend becomes a wife, men love to have girlfriends. And when a girlfriend becomes a wife…
Oh, sharks! Like it or not, marriage is WORK…but it doesn’t have to be “hard” work.

OTHER SOURCES: Internet, Buzzle.com, BBC Online, Infidelity.com, Wikipedia.

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