Marital Affairs: Not All are Created Equal

by joe on July 15, 2010

There are as many types of marital affairs as there are couples who are involved in them. While each is unique and needs to be treated as such there are some broad similarities across many affairs. Here are some brief descriptions of the types of affairs I’ve seen over the years.

“The Leading Two Lives” Marital Affair

In this type of marital affair the person who strays may have some unhappiness in the marriage but not necessarily enough for them to want to leave. Instead, they find an affair partner who shares many of the same interests, most often those which are not shared with their spouse.

Oftentimes these shared interests are of a spiritual, artistic or hobby type of nature that the straying partner feels essential to his or her fulfillment as a human being. This may make the affair partner seem like a soul mate of sorts.

Its almost as if two lives are developed – one with the spouse which may revolve around “real life” activities like raising the kids, paying the mortgage, etc… and a second life with the affair partner which may revolve around “fun life” activities.

“Emotional” Marital Affairs

This type of marital affair can be just as, if not more so shocking and destructive as a sexual affair.

The lack of sexual involvement is often used as a rationalization as to why it’s not it’s not an affair. People involved in emotional affairs will oftentimes become indignant at the suggestion that an affair may be occurring with “my best friend who just happens to be someone of the opposite sex”. And, in fairness, people are so good at rationalizing that they may be deeply involved in an emotional affair and truly believe that it is simply a very close friendship. However, the emotional intensity of this type of relationship and what it drains from the marital relationship is much more than what happens with a best friend.

How do you distinguish between a friendship and an emotional affair? Two questions you can ask are: a) Does your partner’s “best friend” have more information or insight into your partner’s everyday or emotional life than you? b) Does their “friend” know more about your marriage than you?

“One Night Stand” Marital Affairs

Unlike other types of marital affairs, one night stands are not always indicators that there are problems in the marriage, although its not unusual for the partner who strays to been having fantasies about being sexual with someone else.

More often than not, one night stands are unplanned and spontaneous. They are usually rooted in impulsive choices combined with opportunity. They may occur on a business trip or while out on the town and the majority of the time involve a relative stranger although sometimes one night stands can happen with someone known. Alcohol or other recreational drugs may contribute to the situation.

The vast majority of people who have one night stands want to stay in their marriages and are plagued with guilt or a fear of being found out.

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