The Psychology of Affairs. By Theresa Lowry-Lehnen. Lecturer of Psychology


Published on

The Psychology of Affairs.
The impact on the couple, the children and the other person involved

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Psychology of Affairs. By Theresa Lowry-Lehnen. Lecturer of Psychology

  1. 1. The Psychology of Affairs The impact on the couple, the children and the other person involved
  2. 2. Marriage Infidelity Statistics % of marriages where one /both spouses admit to infidelity, physical or emotional 50% % of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had 57% % of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had 54% % of married men who have strayed at least once during their married lives 22% % of married women who have strayed at least once during their married lives 14% % of men and women who admit to having an affair with a co-worker. 45%+ % of men and women who admit to infidelity on business trips 35% % of men and women who admit to infidelity with a brother-in-law or sister-in-law 17% Average length of an affair 2 yrs % of marriages that end after an affair has been admitted to or discovered 32% % of men who regret cheating on their wives with another woman 78% % of women who regret cheating on their husbands with another man 82% Percent of children who are the product of infidelity 3% % of affairs which end when the affair is discovered 90%
  3. 3. It is often assumed that only certain types of couples are vulnerable to infidelity such as the misunderstood husband, or the lonely housewife. It is also assumed that couples who enjoy each other's company, communicate well, and have a good sex life are immune from such problems. .The reality is, anyone can be subject to an affair Recent studies reveal that 45 to 55 % of married women and 50 to 60 % of married men engage in an extramarital affair at some time or another during their relationship.
  4. 4. Sometimes extra marital affairs occur when one or other partner has a serious illness, alcohol or addiction problem which the spouse finds difficult to deal with. A wife may feel unappreciated. A husband may claim to be misunderstood, lonely or that his wife lost interest in him a long time ago. . Both may feel that they are no longer able to communicate like they once did. The main reason people find intimacy (emotional or physical) with someone outside of marriage is because their emotional needs are not being met. When children have grown up and left the home, this lack of common ground can also become a chasm between some couples.
  5. 5. An unrealistic ideation when affairs occur is that the spouse has met someone who is superior in some way, who better meets their needs and desires. In a wife's mind, the new woman with whom her husband is having an affair is much more attractive than she is. . A husband imagines that the man with whom his wife is infatuated is much more successful or powerful than him. Statistics have proven that this is rarely the case and research (2013) has shown that in over 1,000 extra marital affairs studied and analysed that over (90%) of wives were deemed more attractive physically and (78%) of husband more successful than the person with whom the spouse is having an affair.
  7. 7. The initial decision to be unfaithful is rarely ever a rational choice; instead infidelity is usually driven by circumstances and emotions. Most people are surprised by their own behaviour at the start of an affair. . Emotional infidelity, compared to just physical infidelity inflicts as much, if not more, hurt, pain and suffering. The internet, mobile phones, e-mail, and chat rooms are making it easier for people to engage in infidelity .
  8. 8. Over 45% of men and women admit to having an affair with a co-worker. To illustrate the impact of the workplace on infidelity, a survey conducted by "Redbook" magazine revealed that 40% of married women had had an affair by age forty. . When this number was broken down by women in the workplace versus women at home, it became clear that the workplace provides ample opportunity for women to conduct extramarital relationships 33% percent of homemakers versus 47% of working wives had had an affair by age forty.
  9. 9.  While the workplace has historically been the arena in which men conducted affairs, an interesting trend is the conscious decision of young and increasingly more middle aged single women to date married co-workers.  This is due not only to the prestige, power, and financial means of this group of men, but to a desire on the part of these women to focus on their careers.
  10. 10.  Involvement with a married man greatly reduces the likelihood of the affair leading to marriage, and limits the amount of time and energy which he is able to devote to the extramarital relationship, thereby freeing her to concentrate on career advancement.  Another advantage to having a married affair partner is that that individual has much to lose, for example, spouse, children, home, and financial assets, so he or she is likely to make fewer demands.
  11. 11. Numbers and trends in the workplace tell the story As a society, we believe strongly in monogamy. When we say "forsaking all others, 'till death do us part", most couples truly believe that this is what they will choose and how they will behave as a married couple for the rest of their lives. . Evidence points to other forces coming into play, forces that can powerfully counteract more conscious intentions. These include factors that are an inherent part of many workplaces, as well as the natural evolution of marital relationships.
  12. 12. Over the past half century, women have entered the workforce in increasing numbers. In today's economy, it is almost a luxury for a woman (or a man) to remain full time in the home and raise children. Women and men have become accustomed to working closely with each other, particularly as the feminist agenda has continued to push for full and equal participation in the workplace.. The reality is that many men and women now spend more time with their co- workers than they do with their spouses. They engage in more conversation about both work and non-work-related matters. While this is nearly always on a superficial rather than deep level the intensity of workplace demands have contributed to the forging of emotional/physical bonds.
  13. 13. Without conscious effort any marriage can stagnate. Marriage becomes routine. The exhilaration and strong sexual attraction once felt for a partner tend to wane over time (as guaranteed it will too with the affair partner). . The sexy young woman the husband fell in love with becomes preoccupied with childrearing, running a household, everyday realities and maintaining her own career. Couples settle into roles and routines, which tend to be predictable and at times even boring. The handsome carefree guy the wife fell in love with is now concerned about being an adequate provider for his family
  14. 14. Neglect is the number one reason for cheating on a spouse. Everyone needs to feel loved and appreciated.Without it one begins to suffer mental and emotional neglect. Sometimes, when a couple have been together for a long time, they begin to neglect each other.They don't talk with each other as often.They may even neglect to have sex as often, or at all.This type of neglect leaves a person feeling frustrated at best, and undesirable at worst. . Neglected people are the group where - affairs find them.They don't intentionally look for or initiate affairs. Neglected spouses become like a haemorrhaging wound in desperate need of a bandage, often using the advances from a co-worker, as their “substitute bandage” because that somebody provides them with the attention that their spouse has neglected to give them.
  15. 15. Office/Work relationships offer the neglected spouse the opportunity to be seen in a different light. In the workplace, the wife becomes not just the pressurised mother who's too exhausted for sex at the end of the day, but an attractive woman whom someone finds interesting. . Similarly the husband is not just the forgotten man with a growing “to do list” – but one who takes charge at work, makes things happen, and has the respect of his peers. So co-worker affairs occur and can at first afford the opportunity to occupy a different role from the mundane realities of everyday life.
  16. 16.  Therapists who work with couples dealing with infidelity find that affairs usually have little to do with the marriage, that many spouses are still best friends, love each other deeply and want their marriage to continue and work.  The roles and structure of family life create many restrictions and responsibilities and a person's affair is not so much a rejection of the spouse as a rejection of these role restrictions."
  17. 17. Affairs can occur at any stage of a marriage, but there tends to be "peak" times when the marriage is vulnerable. The first year of marriage can be turbulent. Affairs during this phase tend to be short-lived and may involve a brief reconnection with a former love interest. The arrival of the first child represents a major turning point in a couple's relationship. The notorious "seven year itch" corresponds roughly to years four through seven when the initial "psychological contract" between partners has been fulfilled.This refers to the idea that we choose our partners because they meet certain residual emotional needs. When the children have grown up (often affecting couples still in their 40’s).
  18. 18. Many marriages “shattered by affairs do survive and become stronger Affairs while painful to deal with can help renew a relationship with the existing partners. Affairs often spur a couple to confront what they really need and want from their spouse and motivate them to re- create it. In counselling sessions therapists hear over and over again "I never wanted this to happen, I only ever really loved my wife/ husband and want my spouse, lover and best friend to be that same person“. By acknowledging that an affair means “living a lie” in some form, there is a greater chance to deal with the emotional and practical consequences of the affair in a healthier way.
  19. 19.  1. Stop the affair immediately. Agree to sever all contact. 2. Answer all questions honestly.  3. Show your spouse empathy  4. Keep talking and listening, no matter how long it takes.  5.Take responsibility.  6. Don’t expect quick or easy forgiveness.
  20. 20.  1. Ask lots of questions.  2. Balance your rage with your need for information.  3. Set a time limit on affair talk. Don’t let the affair take over your lives. Do ask questions as they arise instead of building up resentment and long lists of questions  4. Expect curveballs.The spouse who had the affair may become angry or even accuse you of betraying him or her. Keep the focus on the affair itself.  5.Talk about how the affair has affected you.  6. Don’t forgive too quickly or easily. You must deal with your pain and anger first and rebuild trust.  7. Find support.  8. Spend time together without talking about the affair. Connect as friends and romantic partners by doing the things you’ve always enjoyed.  9. Forgive only when you’re ready.You’ll never forget an affair, but the painful memories will fade with time. Forgiveness allows you to move past the pain and rage and to reconcile with your partner.Take this important step only when you feel ready to let go of your negative feelings, when your partner has been completely honest and has taken steps to rebuild your trust.
  21. 21. There are going to be situations where the spouse just can't get out of working with the other man/woman. Finding a new job or transferring within a company takes time and may not always be possible It's important that he/she make very clear to the other person that the relationship is going to be a very limited working one only, and that the contact is going to be purely on a professional basis. It's best to be very brief with this message, simply stating what needs to be said and removing him/ herself from the situation. He/ she must be very convincing about this, avoiding eye or physical contact. This meeting should be very brief and matter of fact. . This should be the last time that they really need to talk this over. In the future, he/ she should communicate with the other person via email, fax or brief communication about professional matters only. Written communication also protects your spouse from any allegations. Face to face contact between it's very important that you know that your spouse is making a continuous effort to limit and end his/her contact. Many companies have very strict policies about fraternizing among co workers, not to mention sexual harassment issues and policies. So, it's important (for so many reasons) that your husband wife distance him / herself from this situation as soon as possible.
  22. 22. A parent's affair presents special problems for teenagers and adult children. Small children while of course affected are often not aware or sheltered from the affair. They may hold idealistic standards that have been shattered.They may hold parents to a higher standard - so may be even more affected due to the disparity between who they "thought" the parent was and who they now see them to be. They often feel fiercely protective of the hurt parent. They may do a "role reversal," becoming intensely protective of the hurt parent - just as the parent was protective of them when they were children. They may be especially harsh in their judgement of the affair parent.They may feel betrayed and have great difficulty with trust/forgiveness, feeling they can no longer count on that parent. They can take it very personally, feeling somehow that this was done to them - not understanding that the parent did it for themselves, not to the spouse or the children.
  23. 23. . It may feel awkward to have the "tables turned" (in that the children may be chastising the parent in a way that parents often chastise their children) - but their reactions are understandable, especially in light of the potential impact on their lives.. There are unpleasant consequences (for everybody) in dealing with this issue, so everybody must do their best to do everything possible to recover and rebuild the relationships that have been damaged. Both parents must respond to their children’s comments and feelings in a non- defensive way.They need to work through their issues , be honest with and support their children.The adult children’s feelings about the situation may be affected more by what the hurt parent does than what they say - it's important for the hurt parent to be able to show that they are not defeated, but will grow stronger and more independent as a result of dealing with this problem.This means the hurt parent first needs to take care of themselves. They need to set an example that the children can follow in effectively working to understand and heal from the pain of this situation.
  24. 24. Almost every wife who has ever struggled after an affair knows that thinking about the other woman can become an obsession; wanting to know who she is, what she looks like, what makes her tick, and why, of all people on earth, she chose your husband.While the affair is going on (and after it has ended) thoughts of her invade every day life. What happens when the affair is over? How does the other woman feel about the end of the relationship? And how do these feelings dictate her actions? Does she just ride off into the sunset? Does she find another married man to prey on? Does she vow to change her ways and eventually find a single guy to settle down with? Does she pine over your husband and try to scheme up ways that she can get back into your life? Men whose wives have cheated usually have the same thoughts and concerns, but are less inclined or find it more difficult to talk about.
  25. 25. A lot depends upon the circumstances involved. Their personalities, feelings, and life events. Some will say that if the wife/ husband had kept his/her own happy, his/her presence would not have been needed. Many say their intention was never to hurt anyone. However, these women/ men have feelings too and they have their own emotional baggage to deal with after the affair Many are quite hurt when the relationship ends. Many feel guilt . Some feel depressed when the realization sets in that they themselves may be middle aged, single and childless and may never find that special person.
  26. 26. Some have been "the other woman or man" on occasion. Some say that all of the people that they've had relationships with over the past several years have been married. Others state this is their first relationship with a married man/ woman. Many insist that had they known the pain the affair was going to cause every one involved, they never would have become involved in the first place. What happens to the other person after the affair will often depend upon the depth of his/her feelings for the husband/ wife Some are quite hurt when the relationship ends. Some say that the husband/ wife promised that he was going to leave his partner and be with him/ her, and, when this doesn't happen (in 92% of cases), it can leave the other woman/ man feeling very vulnerable, disappointed, lied to and taken advantage of.
  27. 27. Sometimes, the other person will go to the other extreme and say they have concerns about the spouse. Stating that while they truly wants him/ her to be happy they doubt that this can happen with the current spouse. Usually the result of denial or as an attempt to make themselves feel better. Sometimes "the other woman/ man" wants to apologize to the wife/ husband.They may feel a great deal of remorse and wants to reach out and try to make things better. Most will just do the best that they can and move on becoming more careful to ensure any future person that they become interested in is 100% single because they don't want to repeat the same mistakes. The other woman/ man has some serious choices to make and realities to face. They too must decide if they are going to take the affair and use it as a means to learn about and improve upon themselves and reflect on their motives for getting involved with a married man or woman in the first place. While many move on, learn from and never repeat the experience, statistics show that some remain bitter ,angry and alone for the rest of their lives never finding that “special one” (19%). Some continue to have affairs or become the victim of an affair themselves (17%).
  28. 28.  Currin, L, Ph.D (2010) Affairs: Who HasThem, andWhy? World of psychology, Copyright © 2014, Atlanta Area Psychological Associates, P.C. Accessed on line 22nd February 2014.  http://www. Accessed on line February 21th 2014.  affair-Accessed online February 24th 2014.  http://www.psychcentral.comarchives/2013/09/17/how-to-close-the-door- after-an-affair. Accessed on line February 24th 2014.  StatisticVerificationSource (2014) Associated Press, Journal of Marital and FamilyTherapy Research Date: 1.1.2014. accessed on line February 24th 2014.  Tulane, S., Skogrand, L., & DeFrain, J. (2011). Couples in great marriages who considered divorcing. Marriage & Family Review, 47(5), 289-310. doi:10.1080/01494929.2011.594215