Sowjanya’s worst fears were confirmed.Her husband, whom she had thought was a workaholic, had in fact been having a torrid affair with his colleague, a woman much younger. The suspicion initially started when her husband had pleaded work and had come home late.Doubts nagged her when she found double-room hotel bills in his brief case. Sex between them was next to non-existent. Initially she felt guilty that she even suspected her husband. When she could not find plausible rationalization for his excuses, she employed a private detective agency.They had furnished her with damning photographs of him with the other woman.
Now where had she gone wrong? Had she in some way neglected his needs and by default pushed him in the wrong direction? What was she to do?
It is difficult to pinpoint any particular reason for affairs. While the contexts differ from person to person there is no denying the fact that it can have some rather distressing repercussions. To know the motivational factors, it is first important to understand the typology of affairs, which are as follows:
1. Situation specific affairs – these categories of affairs are not preplanned. They are grabbed when the opportunity presents itself. The most common reason being it is convenient and alluring. One night stands fall under this group. They usually occur when the individual in question is far away from home or touring. He or she succumbs to temptation when it is too great to resist and when they are also aware that the threat of exposure is rather low. Such affairs are also fueled by fortuitous circumstances like running into an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend and passion is recalled. Alcohol is also known to aid such situations. Such affairs are short-lived and do not last for more than few days or weeks at the most.
2. Short-tem-affairs – These types of affairs keeping in mind the time/short-term period aspects are further classified into more types loosely bordering on the reasoning factor.
- Conquest affairs – ‘The more women I have the more feathers in my cap’ concept.
- Anger or revenge affairs – ‘How dare he do this to me, I will do the same’ is the theme here. These are indulged in to either hit back at a partner or in haste to placate anger.
- Pre-divorce affairs – ‘I want to know if I can function without my partner’ or ‘I want to test new waters before I venture not danger zone again’ criteria at play here.
3. Long-term affairs – Again keeping the investment of time in mind these affairs can be further classified into the following.
- Marriage maintenance affairs – If one of the partners is sick or for some reason unable to actively participate in the marriage, the other partner seeks his release elsewhere and at the same time remains in the marriage to maintain it in the society or for the sake of children.
- Hedonistic affairs – Here the focus is only on sexualand sensual pleasure.
- Cathartic affairs – The persons involved in this kind of an affair vent their angst on the extramarital partner. This kind of an affair is resorted to if one’s own partner does not understand his or her partner’s emotional need.
4. Need based affairs – These kinds of affairs are resorted to in order to meet a specific need. These needs can be intimacy reduction;indulgence in certain acts like oral sex, anal sex etc;and reassurance of one’s sexual prowess during mid life.
Men’s motivation for having affairs by and large leans towards sexual variety and excitement while women tend to look more for emotional returns. The forbidden fruit syndrome and the novelty factor are other operative factors.
There is no doubting the fact that there is very less to be gained from affairs. While it may at times provide the concerned person with the thrills that accompany it, the consequences usually can be quite painful and long lasting. Walking the tightrope of living constantly under the fear of exposure, balancing an affair with the other familial obligations, career etc and managing guilt can prove to be rather stressful. Each context needs looking into and customized in order to arrive at a plausible reason and then a possible solution.While an affair does replenish a little something towards that end, it definitely is no way to resolve issues that have been shoved under the carpet.
- Acknowledge that there is a problem.
- Extramarital partner is not synonymous with a therapist.
- Seek professional help.
- Seeking help is not a sign of weakness.
The decision to seek help is an indication of one’s commitment to a relationship. The strength of a relationship lies in its ability to handle any kind of change with the maturity it requires. It is a sign of a value that the couples need to place on each other and on the marriage.