Why Couples Cheat
His laptop was broken and he was using his wife’s, when the Facebook message popped up, “Hi sexy!” Scrolling through the older messages, Patrick discovered his wife was having an affair. A very familiar scenario, one might say. Isn’t this how one usually finds out about a cheating partner?
Patrick was devastated. And so was his wife of 10 years, Tanya. How can someone he thought was so wonderful do something so wrong? They had their ups and downs, they fought… but which couple didn’t? He never thought she would cheat on him. He trusted her so!
When they came in for couples counselling, Tanya said, yes, she still loves her husband. Everyone calls them made for each other. But, she had gotten emotionally involved with someone at work. What started as friendly chatting, developed into something deeper.
Tanya says that she herself was surprised at how the friendship became an emotional “wanting”. She craved to talk to him daily and this need slowly took over and she ended up cheating physically too.
Emotional Affairs: It doesn’t have to be sex for one to cheat
In fact, most people admit to cheating for the sake of the emotional connect and very few said they were just after sex. In fact, it doesn’t have to be sex for one to have cheated. Emotional affairs are more rampant, especially because a person is more connected “online” with a certain someone than “offline” with one’s own partner. Emotional affairs are also more difficult to counsel.
There are always exceptions, of course. Some crave the excitement that an illicit affair brings. They want someone and they just have to have them. But these are a minority when you compare it to the number of men and women who say that they didn’t intend to cheat. These people lose the emotional connection with their partners, and instead of trying to work it with them, choose to make the wrong choice of finding it elsewhere.
Family above everything else: Is it enough?
Take Brian, for instance. As a family man, you can’t seem to find a fault in him. However busy he was at work, he always made time for family, fulfilling his obligations. He made sure he was present for every school event of his children, was involved in their academics, and was caring and attentive to his wife. Nonetheless, he cheats. He justifies this by saying that he is discreet, and so long as he puts the family first and his wife doesn’t know, what does it matter? He too says that he loves his wife.
Why does he cheat? Brian says, “One can’t always find the perfect someone. Life is too short for that. My wife is a beautiful woman and admirable in so many ways. I love the way she manages home and career beautifully. But, I look for a certain excitement, a woman who can match my wits. And in my friend I see that quality. And I love her too. She knows this and understands.” If he is happy with his life, one might ask why does he come for counselling? Brian says, he can’t discuss his lover with anyone else and talking helps to put things in perspective. In other words, Brian is not completely happy with his dual life; he cannot find contentment.
Cheating doesn’t bring contentment
The sad reality is this: A vast majority of people cheat on their partners. And most of them cheat because people don’t choose to save their relationships. As social animals, we are always on the lookout for love and companionship. When we don’t nurture the relationship with our partners, we will always keep searching and never find contentment.
At the risk of sounding preachy, I will say that cheating is an ugly deal to face for both partners. Cheating can never make one happy. The person who cheats always feels guilty, and when the partner finds out – for however careful one might be, the truth will be out one day or the other – it is so difficult to go back to the earlier life and to earn the trust back.
Rekindle the spark with your partner
If you find yourself being attracted to someone outside your marriage, ask yourself: When have I last felt like that with my spouse? When have I sat down and enjoyed a meal with him/her, talking about everything and nothing? When have I laughed like that? If it has been too long, then you should try to connect back. Bring back the romance that you know you once had and you still can have. Relationships need work, but they are worth it. There is always the love, but we need to kindle the spark every now and then.
Couples Counselling at the Centre
A practitioner at the Centre having experience with couples and relationship counselling:
- Barry Strmelj, Psychologist
To get an appointment or to make enquiries, please call (03) 9820-5577.
- Overcoming Relationship Challenges
- The Neuroscience of Relationships
- Bring Back the Love and Intimacy
- Couples Counselling
- Family Counselling
- How to Support Children through Divorce