Whats The Attraction?

Why do people have affairs? Why not do the 'right' thing and leave a marriage first if one is inclined to step out of it? The reasons are as varied as the people involved. Public perception of infidelity is someone with a sexual overdrive and their pants around their ankles, and while that may be true in some cases, it's not as common a reason as one would think. The following are just a few of the reasons for staying in a marriage and having extracurricular activities.

*FINANCES:

Hardly the stuff of romance, but yes, money matters play a HUGE part in the decision to stay or leave. For women, it's often a question of not making enough to support themselves, let alone a family, so they put up and shut up. For men, child and spousal maintenance can reduce them to living below the poverty level. Loss of accumulated material wealth also plays an important part in the decision to stay.

*CHILDREN:

Okay, we've all heard both sides of that argument. There are those who believe you should put up with damn near anything for the kids, and those who believe if the marriage is on the rocks, the kids are better off without it staying intact. Either way, kids are pretty resilient, they can adapt to any situation. The parents can't. Being a non-custodial parent is gut wrenching, and most parents would be willing to do anything to avoid that scenario. To go from daily contact to bi-weekly visitations, or worse, being a 'check in the mail' is a giant leap, and not a good one. For a lot of us, it's far preferable to have regular contact with a less than ideal spouse than to have limited contact with our kids.

*MORALS:

Believe it or not, we still have them. It's not an easy decision to step outside your marriage; it goes against everything we've ever been taught. Most of us struggle with massive amounts of guilt before we ever cross that line, never mind after. There's also the added pressure of expectations of family members, co-workers, and society in general to be upstanding citizens. None of us grow up aspiring to commit adultery, and we feel like failures when we do succumb. Leading a double life allows us at least the perception of a successful marriage, even if truthfully it's in name only.

*ABUSE:

This is self-explanatory. Whether the abuse is implied or historical, physical or emotional, the effect is the same. Simply, one is just too damned scared to leave, and has little, if any, confidence in seeing themselves through. An affair may provide them with the encouragement and support that they're lacking on the home front. As well, it's an escape from what their reality is.

*EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT:

Okay, I already know what everyone is thinking. How is it possible to betray ones' spouse and still claim to love them? It's simple really. The partner that is having the affair isn't having some of their needs met, but that doesn't necessarily erase all of the feelings they may have towards their spouse. He/she may be the most wonderful person in the world, having never done anything 'wrong' to deserve being kicked to the curb, but there are elements missing in the relationship that the affair makes up for. It could be lack of interest in their partner's hobbies, incompatible libidos, lack of physical attraction, etc. Far too often, couples fawn over each other, only to stop dead in their tracks after the wedding ceremony. They get along fine, they're great company for each other, but they become complacent, as though the need to hold their partner's interest no longer exists. They no longer worry about looking good or showing genuine enthusiasm towards their partner, but in their own way, there is still an affectionate bond and a commitment to the marriage.

Even though we realize that we run the risk of being caught, and that it will be devastating to our partners when we are, we commit adultery to avoid hurting them. How does one walk up to their partner of 20-30 years, and inform them that they've met someone else? "Thanks for everything, but I'm out of here?" We lie and sneak around to delay the pain as long as possible, even though it hurts us to do so, and eventually, our spouses too.

© Arlie MacGregor, 2004

Between The Sheets...The Affordable Adult Alternative http://www.betweenthesheets.net

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