Extramarital Affairs: What Everyone Needs to Know and What You Can Do to Help

Recent statistics suggest that 40% of women (and that number is increasing) and 60% of men at one point indulge in extramarital affairs. Put those numbers together and it is estimated that 80% of the marriages will have one spouse at one point or another involved in marital infidelity.

That may seem like a very steep number. However after two decades plus of full time work as a marriage and family therapist, I don't believe that number is off the charts. I worked with a great number of people involved in infidelity who were never discovered.

The possibility that someone close to you is or soon will be involved in an extramarital affair (any of the three parties) is extremely high.

Maybe you will know. You will see telltale signs. You will notice changes in the person's habits and behavioral patterns as well as a detachment, lack of focus and reduced productivity. Maybe you will sense something "out of character" but be unable to pinpoint what it is.

It is not a given that he/she will tell you. Those hiding the affair will continue to hide. The "victim" of the extramarital affair often, at least initially, is racked with anger, hurt, embarrassment and thoughts of failing that preclude divulging the crisis.

It might be important to confront the person with your observations, depending on the status of your relationship with the person.

It is important to understand that extramarital affairs are different and serve different purposes.

Out of my study and experience with hundreds of couples I've identified 7 different kinds of infidelity.

Briefly, some extramarital affairs are reactivity to a perceived lack of intimacy in the marriage. Others arise out of addictive tendencies or a history of sexual confusion or trauma.

Some in our culture play out issues of entitlement and power by becoming "trophy chasers." This "boys will be boys" mentality is subtly encouraged in some contexts. Some become involved in marital infidelity because of a high need for drama and excitement and are enthralled with the idea of "being in love" and having that "loving feeling."

An extramarital affair might be for revenge either because the spouse did or did not do something. Or the revenge may stem from rage. Although revenge is the motive for both, they look and feel very different.

Another form of infidelity serves the purpose of affirming personal desirability. A nagging question of being "OK" may lead to usually a short-term and one-person affair. And finally, some affairs are a dance that attempts to balance needs for distance and intimacy in the marriage, often with collusion from the spouse.

The prognosis for survivability of the marriage is different for each. Some affairs are the best thing that happens to a marriage. Others serve a death knell. As well, different extramarital affairs demand different strategies on the part of the spouse or others. Some demand toughness and movement. Others demand patience and understanding.

The emotional impact of the discovery of infidelity is usually profound. Days and weeks of sleeplessness, rumination, fantasies (many sexual) and unproductivity follow. It typically takes 2 ? 4 years to "work through" the implications. A good coach or therapist can accelerate and mollify the process. I don't recommend "marriage" counseling, at least initially.

The devastating emotional impact results from a couple powerful dynamics. Trust is shattered ? of one's ability to discern the truth. The most important step is NOT to learn to trust the other person, but to learn to trust one's self. Another is the power that a secret plays in relationships. THE secret exacts an emotional and sometimes physical toll that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.

How can you help?

Those in the midst of their affair crisis told me they need this from you:

1. Sometimes I want to vent, get it out without censor. I know sometimes I will say what I shouldn't be saying. It may not be nice, pretty or mild. Please know that I know better, but I need to get it off my chest.

2. Every so often I want to hear something like, "This too shall pass." Remind me that this is not forever.

3. I want to be validated. I want to know that I am OK. You can best do that by nodding acceptance when I talk about the pain or confusion.

4. I want to hear sometimes, "What are you learning? What are you doing to take care of yourself?" I may need that little jolt that moves me beyond my pain to see the larger picture.

5. I may want space. I may want you to be quiet and patient as I attempt to sort through and express my thoughts and feelings. Give me some time to stammer, stutter and stumble my way through this.

6. I want someone to point out some new options or different roads that I might take. But before you do this, make sure I am first heard and validated.

7. When they pop into your mind, recommend books or other resources that you think I might find helpful.

8. I want to hear every so often, "How's it going?" And, I may want this to be more than an informal greeting. Give me time and space to let you know exactly how it IS going.

9. I want you to understand and welcome the ambivalent feelings and desires. I would like you to be fairly comfortable with the gray areas and the contradictions about how I feel and what I may want.

10. I want you to be predictable. I want to be able to count on you to be there, listen and speak consistently or let me know when you are unable to do that. I will honor that.

Extramarital affairs are powerful. Affairs are costly. They affect family, friends, colleagues and employers. Infidelity is also an opportunity ? to redesign one's life and love relationships in ways that create honor, joy and true intimacy.

Dr. Robert Huizenga, The Infidelity Coach, has helped hundreds of couples over the past two decades heal from the agony of extramarital affairs and survive infidelity. Visit his website at: http://www.break-free-from-the-af fair.com

In The News:

Google on its Relationship With SEOs  Search Engine Journal
Building meaningful relationships over Zoom  Johns Hopkins News-Letter
HONOURING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH ENVIRONMENT  The Kashmir Images Newspaper

5 Surefire Ways to Arouse Your Woman

As there are different types of women, there are different... Read More

Lingerie Buying Advice For Guys

Buying lingerie for your lover can be one of the... Read More

Why Some Women Are Desperate

I asked Dave how he was doing since it was... Read More

Revenge ? Serve It Cold!

Whether you caught him in bed with the local bimbo,... Read More

Relationship Failing? Consider Your Ways

WhenWe all need to consider our ways. So many times... Read More

Rediscovering Love and Intimacy

Wendy started counseling with me because Terence, her husband of... Read More

Soul Mate - a Pain in the Neck

"and they lived happily ever after...That is how our favorite... Read More

A Little Help Finding Love

A little help finding love online.Visit the dating sites.If finding... Read More

5 Ways to Tell Your Man You Love Him

Telling your man that you love him is part of... Read More

[Conflict Resolution] The Philosophy of Fear and Confrontation

Is there now, or has there been, a person or... Read More

Relationship Advice: 10 Tips for a Blissful Relationship

1.Often in marriage, especially in the early years, there is... Read More

Engaged, In Love, and In Limbo

Well, here I am very much in love and starting... Read More

Secrets To Get To The Heart Of Your Loved One

The other day, I was home with my sweet love... Read More

Relationship Advice: After the Break Up - Creating an Exit Door in Your Heart

Q. It's been over a year since the guy I... Read More

Why We Chose The Person We Love

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to... Read More

How Valentine?s Day Gifts Can Expose a Cheating Husband

If you have the nagging feeling that your husband may... Read More

Is It Love or Money?

What do women or men want out of a relationship?... Read More

Playing the Part

A revelation came to me at the most unsuspecting time.... Read More

Cheating Husband/Wife: 6 Keys to Know if You are Ready to Handle What You Might Find When You Spy

When you spy on your suspected cheating spouse, please make... Read More

Relationship Red Flags Do Appear Early On

So often in the bloom of a new romance we... Read More

Great Relationships: How to Get the Spark Back

Losing the spark - simply, if you will, falling out... Read More

Choosing an Online Dating Service

The problem with choosing a dating service is choice --... Read More

Can We Still Be Friends?

Excerpt From The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve... Read More

Cheating Wives and Cheating Husbands Give Different Reasons for Having Extramarital Affairs

Infidelity studies indicate that the percentage of cheating wives is... Read More

The Sting of Infidelity Isnt that Bad! Right? Is it?

1. Sleepless nights are part of a victims' experience... Read More