If you recall, in the last post that I wrote about motivations and affairs, I mentioned that I had worked with a couple that had been impacted because of infidelity. In this situation, sadly this affair had great consequence for this woman and her husband. After confessing to her husband what had happened, they both sought help for their marriage. Just as they were making some significant progress in counseling, they learned that she had become pregnant through that extra-marital relationship. As you can imagine, this became a daunting obstacle to face for them as a couple. When God directs, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), He does so for good reasons. There are significant social, psychological, physical and spiritual consequences to having an affair. We will look at a few of these.

Perhaps the greatest cost to having an affair is a divorce. An affair that is discovered does not have to lead to a divorce, but often it does. Listen to this statistic: About two-thirds of couples in which an affair occurred usually divorce. That is a sobering statistic and when you consider the costs of divorce to individuals, families and children, there is great damage left in the wake of an affair.

With this aspect of divorce, a sad fact is that too often once an affair occurs, with one of the spouses, there is a slow erosion with their relationship with their children. Whether or not there has been infidelity, when children experience divorce, they often feel like they have to choose between their two parents. If the child knows about the infidelity, this is exacerbated concerning the relationship with their parents. Over time, children in these circumstances often begin to distance themselves from the parent who had the affair and if older, may break with the relationship entirely.

Often the impulse for a person pursing an affair is that they believe that the grass is greener on the other side. However, a recent study found that the divorce rate among those who married those with whom they were unfaithful was 75 percent! When an affair occurs, you are founding a relationship in which both individuals are in unhealthy places in their lives. This, of course, is not how you want to begin a committed relationship.

Also for those who think affairs are going to be “fun and exciting,” here are some of the stories I have heard:

  • One man who left his wife got involved with a woman who was very violent. She would sometimes go into rages and one time, broke a beer bottle over his head. On many occasions, she threatened violence toward his wife and daughters. When he initially met this woman, he recalled to me that she seemed “very kind and sweet.”
  • This has been a common story I have heard: a woman becomes involved with another man. After she leaves her husband, and moves in with him, he becomes physically abusive on a regular basis.
  • Here is the most recent one that I heard: a man had an affair and after a certain point wanted to break things off and work on his marriage. After this, the woman would often contact him saying that she was going to commit suicide if he didn’t return to her. Confused, he sought advice from her counselor. The counselor proceeded to tell him that he should stay in relationship with her for her safety. Thankfully, he was not swayed by both of their manipulations and pursued restoring his relationship with his wife and family.

The psychological consequences are significant to having an affair and we often don’t think of this cost. People who pursue an affair, whether married or not, often do so for self-esteem needs, and often these people come from broken places in their lives. Here is a truth I have seen time and time again in my work with those who got caught up in an affair: If you pursue another person, you never really know who they are, but overtime you realize that this new person you are in relationship with has some significant psychological problems. Again, I cannot tell you how many times I have met with a man or woman and the person they had an affair with will not leave them alone even though they want to save their marriage. This extra person in the mix is often the one who brings the marriage to a breaking point. Too often we can forget the truth that having an affair is never a “fun and exciting” relationship in the end.

To end, there are, of course, spiritual consequences to affairs. We grieve God by our actions when we are unfaithful. On some level just as we might need to restore trust with a spouse, the same may need to happen with God. Just as he is faithful to us; he desires that we learn what it means to be committed as well.  One of God’s greatest directives to us is that we be faithful in our sacred commitment of marriage. Marriage, in a certain sense, is a microcosm of our relationship to him. He says, As I am faithful to you in every circumstance, be faithful to the one you have made that pledge. By doing this, in our pursuit to be faithful, we learn through experience just how committed he is to us.

In: Marriage