Category: Marriage


Of course, there are many reasons why people have affairs. By looking at some of the motivations of having an affair, some couples might be able to see the tell-tale signs and therefore, be able to get help before it is too late.

First, sometimes in the conversations that couples have with one another, you can hear the hints of someone who is thinking of “someone else.” Often the words such as these below are hints that something might not be right:

  • Please, will you go to counseling with me.
  • Something needs to change with our sex life.
  • I really enjoy hanging out with Kathryn.
  • You never talk to me anymore.
  • I don’t love you anymore.
  • I am not happy at all with my life.

Usually men and women have affairs for very different reasons. Women seek an affair most often for friendship and to feel emotionally needed. For men, it is fairly simplistic in that they are looking for something sexual and what they think will be a spontaneous and fun relationship.

So when men and women have an affair what do they think they are going to get out of it Women desire the feeling of being thrilled by their lover’s interest in them physically, emotionally, and intellectually. They are hoping for an emotional connection, and feeling loved is a deep motivation for a woman in having an affair.

As said before, a man is seeking sexual variety when he pursues someone. What is it like to be with another woman sexually—this is a core motivation. However, unlike a woman, typically a man tries to control his feelings in the relationship, and will not try to form a deep emotional bond with the other woman.

Here is a major difference in the motivation of men versus women in seeking an affair—when women have affairs, it almost invariably means that they are deeply dissatisfied with their marriage. This is not a typical motivation for a man. Nearly 60% of men who have an affair respond that they are happy in their marriages.

However, sometimes people end up in an affair and there is little motivation behind it. Sometimes people just fall into an affair because they did not protect their marriage and guard their relationships. Some years ago, I worked with a doctor who had an affair with a co-worker and when she retold the story of how the affair happened, the relationship evolved almost like clockwork. I have heard this story countless times.

  • She began having personal conversations with him on the same floor that they worked.
  • The conversations moved to having lunch regularly at the hospital.
  • Eventually, they began to meet for lunch or coffee off-site. More and more, a sexual theme covered their conversation.
  • She ultimately ended up at his apartment continuing these “conversations.”

No matter what motivates a person to be unfaithful, an affair in every case reveals a brokenness in the unfaithful person, and a brokenness in their marriage. Sometimes affairs are founded on secret motivations and other times, they seemingly occur out of thin air because the unfaithful person did not protect their marriage in concrete ways.  Motivated or not, affairs often have dire consequences. Next time, we will look at the costs of having an affair.


In: Marriage

To end this series on unfaithfulness, I want to add some personal thoughts.

Recently, I read that an infamous actor (who starred in a NBC series on Thursday nights in the 80’s and ironically, played the character of a psychologist) left his wife for a woman 26 years his junior. He said this about his unfaithfulness— ‘I needed more love in my life.’

I read that and thought, you have to be kidding me…does he really believe his own words? You need “more love” in your life?!

But in truth, I can’t tell you how often I have heard that same sentiment from others who have found “someone else.” When someone is leaving their spouse, they invariably say some of the craziest things.

One of the best ones I heard was this; a woman I  had met with had the audacity to tell me, But God just wants me to be happy. This was a woman who was sleeping with her next-door neighbor while her husband of over 30 years was recovering from a serious surgery.

One final story. In my early years as a psychologist, I can remember I met with this couple in which the husband had left his wife for another woman, but he kept on changing his mind whether or not he was going to return to the marriage. I remember one March evening he finally made up his mind and he told me this, I love my wife, but I just don’t have the same feelings that I have for her (referring to his mistress).

I simply tried to explain this to him, that the love he “felt” for his wife really rested on his shoulders. If he didn’t feel it, he was the one who wasn’t making it happen. It was his problem, not hers. He didn’t buy it and eventually left his wife. He just didn’t get it—love is not a feeling—love is a willed action. He didn’t understand this: If I don’t “love” somebody, it’s not their fault.  It’s mine. Just for the record, that concept is kind of biblical—the feelings of love occur first and foremost because of what we do.

But in all this, I have an admission. I have very little judgment when it comes to those who have been unfaithful. No different than what Paul said in the New Testament—I too am the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15-16) and if I am not actively protecting myself and my marriage, I also could easily fall. As the life of David shows (2 Samuel 11), nobody is immune to making really bad choices. If for even a minute I think that I am beyond any type of sin, I then become its easiest prey.

On a final note, I am now nearing my 18th year of marriage, and God has been teaching me probably the most important lesson of my life. He is teaching me this, and I hope I can continue to apply this truth until the day I die:

As I am faithful to you, Kelly, I want you also to truly experience what it means to be a faithful person. To one woman. To two sons. To me.

So far so good. In these last few years, God has been teaching me that as I am faithful to Julie—even when I don’t want to, even when things aren’t going my way, even when she isn’t “there for me”—in this act of being faithful, I am just a little bit understanding how faithful Jesus is to me.

I am learning this—his faithfulness to me is pretty incredible. He has never wavered and he has always been there for me no matter what. And with that, I’m pretty grateful.

In: Marriage, Psychology
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The psychologist Dr. Frank Pittman is a leading expert with regards to the issue of infidelity. By far, one of the best writings on the topic is his book Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy. If you or someone close to you has been impacted by an affair, it is a must-read and is a classic on the issue of infidelity.

One of the better parts of the book is when he discusses the ways in which a couple can prevent an affair from happening in their lives. Here is a review of some of his thoughts.

Dr. Pittman maintains that to prevent an affair, you need to first protect your marriage. One of the glaring facts is this—most affairs usually occur in one of two places—in a social setting (like church) or at work. With this, we need to carefully regulate our relationships with those of the opposite sex (or the same sex, if we are attracted to those of the same gender). In terms of my work as a counselor, every person I have counseled who had an affair started this relationship in the context of friendship. If you are in a relationship with someone that might be too close, here are some of the questions you might ask yourself:

•    How personal do I let these conversations get with this person?
•    Do I usually only share negative details about my marriage or spouse?
•    Do we sometimes speak with sexual innuendo?

If you answered these questions positively, you may be in a relationship that is moving in a wrong direction. I like a quote in the book; Dr. Pittman proclaims, “Carry your marriage with you wherever you go.” In this context, imagine your spouse is with you in every conversation, in every interaction, and with you in everything you do.

One of Dr. Pittman’s more unorthodox admissions in preventing an affair is to accept the possibility of being sexually or emotionally attracted to another person. Being physically or emotionally attracted to someone can often be common and to expect that you are never going to be attracted to someone else is simply unrealistic. If this is the case, acknowledge this attraction, and don’t hide it. This will often mean that you will need to share such information with your spouse. By doing so, this may be the one thing that takes the power out of the attraction and temptation.

Another way in which you can prevent an affair is two-fold, work on your marriage, but in the same breath, be realistic about it as well. First, work hard at striving to keep your marriage intimate. Intimacy, whether it is sexual or emotional, is the glue of the marriage and can never be over-looked no matter how many years you have been married. Simply put, be intentional in being intimate in all different kinds of ways with your spouse. Be intentional with talking to one another. Be intentional with affection. Be intentional sexually.

However, at the same time, be realistic about your marriage. No one should expect their marriage to make them happy. Accept the reality of marriage, it isn’t always beautiful and easy. Each married couple must accept that they are both imperfect and should never require the other person to be a source of happiness for them. If this resonates with you, you maybe are expecting too much from your marriage. If this is the case, what should you do? First and foremost, pay special attention to your relationship with God. Delve deeper with your friendships. Learn how to be alone. Find something to be active in that you enjoy doing on a regular basis.

As we have already said, the consequences of having an affair are serious. God says clearly, adultery will bring spiritual, physical, and emotional calamity. But Scripture is also clear that adultery is first and foremost, preventable. As an example, throughout the book of Proverbs we learn many different ways in how to prevent an affair. Its main suggestion: run. Like Joseph with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), run as far away as you can from your temptations.

Right now, some of us need to make some changes in our lives for this to happen. Simply begin here: start by being forthright and honest with yourself, your spouse, or maybe a close and trusted friend. Let someone know what is going on. Let someone know the dangerous places you are taking yourself. Let someone know that you want to run far from your temptations, but sometimes you don’t have the strength to do so and you need their help.

Next time, I will end this series by offering a personal word or two.

In: Marriage
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