Why do Affairs Hurt so Much

November 13, 2017  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Modern infidelity is not just painful. It is often traumatic – whether we are totally surprised or have been suspicious for years. In the digital age, discovery comes with a graphic inventory of sexy photos, erotic emails, and deep desires expressed in black and white – complete with dates and times.The partner’s secret life is laid out in detail providing vivid comparisons to their “vanilla” marital and family life. The freezing effect of trauma means a stricken person will feel a powerful attraction the details of the unfaithful partners’ actions and interests, however much learning them might be a kind of torture.

A private detective is no longer needed. Technology becomes the whistle blower.

For many, serial monogamy has replaced “till death do us part.”At the same time, marriage has become not merely a provider of companionship and child rearing, it has become a vehicle for love, companionship,equality in the kitchen and passionate fulfillment in the bedroom. Because we can divorce with ” no fault ” so easily we as a culture have had to develop more reason to stay. Marriage became important to our personal well being, our sense of self. We no longer had sex to procreate or out of duty. Sexual intimacy and closeness became an expectation for whenever we were ” in the mood.”

The expectations on modern marriages are epic. We invest a lot in our long term relationships which keep getting longer as our life expectancy lengthens. They are often are a buffer against the experience of feeling insignificant, and competition in the work place. Imbued with a sense of purpose and faith about the past and the future, we want to ” be chosen.”When that narrative is shattered so is our sense of meaning and value.

Many people swear they will divorce or kill their spouse if an affair happens – such is our tremendous need to see our marriages as exceptional and faithful. The paradox in our culture means our interest in faithfulness is growing while individual freedom, happiness and fulfillment is promoted alongside.

Many couples can recover from infidelity and build a new and better version of their marriage. The urge to divorce is often not an expression of our ” best self.” Mistakes happen, amends can be made and most of all meaning can be drawn from the painful events. Self reflection is difficult and painful.For some divorce and retribution is a quick fix that is preferable to deeper self and human awareness. When adults do the deeper forgiveness work and create a more robust , mature relationship, they set a more robust,mature trajectory for their children, grand children and great, great grand children who follow behind. Their emotional lives are enriched because mom and dad ” grow up, not just grow old.”









Testimonials

  • If you would like to follow up with more information about affairs please read Esther Perel's new book. Some of her ideas are included in ...

    The State of Affairs – Rethinking Infidelity