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Having An Affair: Why Good People Stray
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Lately, I have been forced to think about some married couples, and why one or the other spouse ends up having an affair. (Forced to, as no fewer than two different couples I know, and am good friends with, are going through this right now. An so since they are going through it, and I am good friends with both husband and wife, I am going through it too.) In both cases, it was the husband that strayed, though through the years, it's been pretty even for those couples I know that had this happen.

So lately, I've been trying to do the "good friend" thing. I'm trying to be supportive of both of them; trying to act as the "sounding board" while they try to figure out why it happened. I'm trying to be the go-between, so they can get past this "raw-as-hell" stage in hopes that they will be able to survive the affair. (I'm selfish. Too often, in a divorce, friends are forced to "choose sides", and for friends of both, that is like having to choose which arm you want to have cut off. No Bueno.

So before I start rambling on and on, I want to say something here that might help someone.

People have a need to feel appreciated. For some, it's as big as the need for air, or food. It's that big.

People really have the need to feel appreciated by their spouse. This my be even more true of men then it is of women. Ladies, did you know this? Maybe not, as we men tend to be such lousy communicators. We count praise and appreciation at home, from you, as being worth like 10 times as much as we recieve from outside the home. (Please, before you start yelling, and throwing stuff, I am in no way saying that women don't want/need the same thing! But being a guy, I don't presume to know the female mind; every time I think I do,I'm wrong and pay the price. I get in too much trouble when I do that. Besides: I have a point I'm trying to get at with this.)

All to often, I think the day to day business of raising a fanily, running the kids around, keeping the house and home up to par, work, we forget to appreciate our spouse. We think we can handle it. We think we can move some of the energy that we should be putting into our relationship, to other areas of our lives. We let the most important thing we have (our loving relationship) take a back seat to that which is MUCH less important (the dishes, the lawn). All of that day-to-day starts building up on us. At some point, with the couple spending more and more time apart between working and running the kids around, just the opportunity to praise and appreciate your partner is less and less. Also, when you are together most of the time, you get to see your partner's accomplishments. The more you are apart, the more you are apt to only see the things that didn't get done.

(And so begin the snide remarks, the criticism, the sniping. The more we are tired, the less tolerance we have, and the sharper our tongues get.)

Soon, instead of our home being the place we go to feel safe, to recharge our life-batteries, home becomes yet another place we have to keep our guard up. Home turns into a place where we no longer feel "good enough", much less truly appreciated.

(Picture now the robot from the old TV sho: "Lost In Space", rolling around, flopping his arms, yelling: "Danger, Danger!")

This is the point where problems can start. People as group tend to do the following: They move away from pain, and move towards pleasure.

So, follow me here. Let's say that the husband is gone from home working a lot, say 10to 12 hours a day. If you figure only "awake-time", that means he is around his work-family more then he is around his real family. Now lets say that at work, he has a lady co-worker that that is nice to him, very complimentary, with lots of positive things to say. As time goes on, the positive reinforcment of the compliments and such at work, and the homelife that is feeling rougher and rougher starts to take an emotional toll. All of this happens so gradually, without either partner knowing it's going on.

(I won't run this analogy out any further, you can all see where it's heading.)

(I'm also not making any excuses for the "cheater". They said their vows, took an oath, and they failed. No Excuses.)

What I am saying here, what I want you to take home with you, is that it didn't have to happen! If you remember to always make your spouse feel appreciated, always feel important, then you are effectively cloaking them in "Anti-Slut" armor! The person at work who is so complimentary will be appreciated, but won't be filling a need. Also, looking at that "move towards pleasure" rule, your spouse will want to get home sooner, spend more and more time with you, do things for you so they can earn more praise, make you feel even happier with them.

It's all a process that is going on all the time, in either one direction or the other. It's either slowly pulling the relationship apart, or making it so strong it's bulletproof.

Street Talk

Mitch, do you think you should have someone to proof your article before you post?

  about 1 decade ago
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