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of an affair? Then think again.
persons turn to an affair as a means of coping with a poor marriage. There
are websites available to help married persons meet other married persons
for such purposes. These websites cite statistics suggesting that since
affairs occur in such great numbers, the behaviour is thus normal and
that’s just evidence of “stinkin thinkin”, or as the psychologists
would say, “cognitive distortions.” (A cognitive distortion is the lie
we tell ourselves to convince ourselves that something is OK when clearly
it is not.)
are two kinds of affairs, emotional and sexual. In both instances, the
person breaches a sacred trust with their marriage partner. They go
outside the marriage to share intimate feelings or sexual behaviour. By
definition, affairs are secretive and deceitful. They are fully withheld
from the marriage partner. They are a betrayal of the trust that forms the
basis of all marital vows and monogamous relationships.
as a strategy for coping with a poor marriage do not work. They undermine
the integrity of the marriage and the individuals involved. There is
tremendous damage done to the sense of trust between the partners that may
never be recovered. Further, the individuals involved have compromised
their personal integrity and must live with that very serious blemish for
the rest of their lives. This is a heavy personal burden – knowing they
have acted deceitfully and are now untrustworthy when trust matters most.
addition to the impact on the marital partner and the individuals
involved, children also suffer. The children are witness to the indignity
suffered by the parent and they too experience betrayal. Children expect
their parents to act properly as role models of virtue and moral
behaviour. We teach our children not to lie or deceive. However, affairs
are the very opposite of this teaching and hence significantly undermine
the relationship and parental authority of the parent having the affair.
parents defend their behaviour, falling back on the excuse of a poor
marriage. Yet, we teach our children there is no right way to lie or hurt
another person. As a result of an affair, a number of parents lose the
relationship with their children. Marital fidelity is a line in the sand
that cannot be crossed without serious consequences.
you are experiencing marital problems, do not add to them with an affair.
Follow this protocol:
1. Speak with your spouse. Discuss openly and honestly the
difficulties you are experiencing in the marriage.
2. If you cannot resolve matters between you, seek outside help
together. This can include a family member, trusted mutual friend, clergy
or counseling professional.
3. If you then cannot resolve matters, you may consider separation or
divorce. If children are involved, consider mediation to resolve ongoing
4. Consider intimacy with another adult only after you have first
separated or divorced. If you have children, such intimacy should be
handled with caution and sensitivity to your children’s adjustment to
the marital separation.
all marriages work. How the break-up of a marriage is dealt with will have
profound implications for resolving matters amicably or with further
conflict. It will also determine parents’ future relationships with
their children and even grandchildren.
of an affair? Think again.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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