Often we hear that someone we know has been involved in infidelity. The question usually is: Why did he /she do it? Are we all exposed to the same temptations that make some fall into the trap of infidelity? Can we better handle such situations, when they come, and thus avoid making a mess of our marriage?
Also known as extramarital affair, infidelity is described as ‘voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife, or between a married woman and someone other than her husband.’ In other words, it is having sex with someone who is not your spouse.
Two issues can be clearly identified in infidelity: the act and the thought. Generally, a married person is unfaithful to his or her spouse if he or she physically engages in sexual acts with someone who is not his or her spouse. Adultery does not just happen; it starts in the mind.
Statistics published in the January 2014 edition of Journal of Marital and Family Therapy showed that one or both spouses in 41% of marriages admitted to physical or emotional infidelity. Thirty-six percent of such infidelity was discovered to have occurred with co-workers, while 35% happened during business trips.
In fact, many researchers have come to the conclusion that:
- over a third of married men will cheat on their wives;
- nearly a quarter of all married women will cheat on their husbands; and
- more than 50% of all marriages will be impacted by one of the spouses being unfaithful.
Why do people do it?
The truth is, a person has an affair when there is something that triggers him or her to defy the very vows he or she made, on his or her wedding day, to be faithful to his or her partner. Such would include:
- Unnecessary familiarity with the opposite sex.
- Sexual deprivation at home.
- Revenge or unrestrained anger.
- Uncontrolled sexual habits before marriage.
- Financial problems.
In addition, the following may serve as catalysts to infidelity:
- Waning physical attraction between a married couple.
- Chronic illness or disability which may render a spouse incapable of performing his or her conjugal responsibility.
- Tension and conflict in marriage due to any of a number of factors such as long periods of separation, in-law problems and career problems.
- Critical life events such as death, rejection, being uprooted, personal failure or life transitions.
- One partner feeling that his or her needs are not being met.
- Emotional emptiness.
- Need for sexual variety or inability to resist a new sexual opportunity.
- Alcohol or drug addiction.
- Growing apart.
- Lack of conflict resolution skills.
Surprisingly, success is also a risk factor in infidelity because it often makes one more attractive to others.
Anyhow one looks at it, infidelity has painful consequences, affecting the person involved in it physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is said to be the number one reason for divorce. The emotional scars of guilt, fear and anxiety can devastate everyone affected by it.
- It is therefore no wonder that among the most commonly reported consequences of infidelity are:
- Strained relationship with God and spouse
- Injury to self-image
- Injury to self-confidence
- Injury to sexual confidence
- Loss of trust and belonging
- Loss of respect
- Feelings of helplessness and abandonment
- Feelings of depression
- Feelings of anxiety
- Feelings of humiliation
- Feelings of rage
- Feelings of shame, guilt and blameworthiness
- Feelings of undesirability and insecurity
- Feelings of hostility and vengeance
Sometimes the many effects of adultery continue throughout a lifetime. There is also growing psychological evidence that adulterous behaviour in parents dramatically affects children when they reach adulthood.
The way out
Now, if you are trapped in an affair or weighed down by the guilt of past affairs, you can come out of it.
- Ask God for forgiveness because adultery is first a sin against God. So repent and make a U-turn. That means you have to be genuinely sorry for your infidelity.
- Seek proper counselling.
- Fix what you can and seek to rebuild broken trust.
- Make deliberate efforts to avoid situations that will compromise your resolve not to do it again.
- Trust God to help you become a better person.
On the other hand, if it is your spouse who is in an amorous relationship, you need to uphold him or her in prayers, and seek necessary help for him or her as well as yourself.
Be on your guard
Now, we are all exposed on a daily basis to situations that seek to trap us and destroy our destiny. But if by the grace of God you are determined to keep your marital vows and remain unsoiled, then you need to:
- Set boundaries in your relationship, particularly with the opposite sex. The truth is, those eye contacts, soft touches, smiles, holding of hands, gossips, dirty talks or jokes, little supposed favours, among other things, will lead to serious consequences if you tolerate or give the impression that you enjoy them. If a man or woman looks straight into your eyes, without any just reason, and you do not immediately look away, it is assumed that you are interested. It is worse if you follow it up or respond with a smile. And there are many out there who know how to subdue with their eyes. Do not be a victim.
- Be open to your spouse. Let him or her in whenever you feel a window that could compromise your relationship is opening. Remember, sin thrives in secrecy.
- Listen to your spouse, and do not make it impossible for him or her to trust you with certain information.
- Guard your heart. You need to cut short or circumvent every thought that is likely to lead you to adultery.
- Cultivate the right mindset to your marital vows.Too often, people do not fully understand that marriage, as God ordained it, is truly “till death do us part.” That mindset will help you stay away from everything that will seek to make it otherwise.
- Love your spouse, and reaffirm that love on a daily basis.
- Love the Lord. The divine injunction is, “Do not commit adultery.”
The price of adultery is terrible, but too many learn this too late. In all your business, office and home relationships, be careful not to abuse the privilege of working with or having access to someone else’s partner. Your misdirected affection can destroy the lives of many.