“Love is moral even without legal marriage but marriage is immoral without love.” – Ellen Key, a writer.
“Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.” – W. Somerset Maugham
In recent surveys, forty percent of women today have never been married. Data also shows that one in two marriages break up within twenty years. People with higher education have marriages that last longer. The divorce rate for people over fifty has doubled in the past two decades. Over 600,000 in 2009. Women initiate this most of the time and cheating is not the primary reason. Women have realized they can have a fuller life these days. Over fifty-three percent of these people have been divorced before and are using online dating sites!
Nearly forty percent of individuals polled by the Pew Foundation not too long ago said marriage is becoming obsolete. Cohabitation has doubled since 1990 and the majority feels it is a step toward marriage. While the majority do not feel marriage is essential they all value it.
Stephanie Coontz wrote all about the changes over time in her book, “Marriage, A History.” Two other recent books, “Pascal Brucker’s, “The Paradox of Love” and “The Curious History of Love” by Jean-Claude Kaufmann review the idea of marriage and love today.
So with this backdrop is it any wonder that people have affairs?
In “Marriage Confidential,” by Pamela Haag, she suggests we have affairs if the need is there and maybe it is a good idea to share the information with a spouse. How much, if anything is shared depends on the relationship. Many marriages are not truly happy or able to continue the passion or even have a sex life so one or both partners long for that aspect of life and seek it. Sometimes the need is so strong another will pick it up when the individual is not even aware they are transmitting a message. The hit by lightning may pull two people together like a magnet. Instinct is not an accident, and whom you connect with is based on deep feelings.
What happens next is a conscious decision. Will a sexual union take place? An affair without sex is not what I am talking about in this article and is not what I call an affair.
Affairs are different at different stages of life and different points in a marriage. In younger people, it may be because the relationship was not good to begin with and perhaps the couple was too young to know better. In a middle-aged couple, it may be boredom, children going off on their own, or outgrowing a partner. In older couples, it may be trying to find real happiness before it’s all over; mature love. At any rate, the issues are the same… the big ones deal with guilt and trust.
Guilt may not be strong depending on what the relationship at home has been. If the wayward partner feels they have given their all and it is not appreciated or able to be reciprocated they rationalize they are due their fling or maybe a chance at a better relationship. I am not talking about one night stands or sex for sex here.
That goes on too but is just for thrills or a change of face and perhaps having sex in different ways from what is offered at home. Recreational, that’s all that is. For most women, however, that is not easy.
The issue of honesty is important. In a good marriage, that counts. Having to make or take phone calls from a lover, having assignations, and being together is all a problem. These can be worked out over time. Not being discovered or having people to share the relationship with is difficult. Not being able to go out, travel or just doing what normal couples do is hard. Not having to deal with life’s daily activities and ups and downs and being secretive can, however, be a plus making the affair exciting. Longing and looking forward to being together and always looking and being at one’s best can also be a plus. Feeling desired can make anyone feel good and young! The dynamics are the same at sixteen or sixty.
Most married men will not leave a wife and especially when there are young children still at home. No matter what they say, it is not the norm They are afraid of the wrath the wife will inflict, money may be an issue, or just habit or duty. They get what they deserve, a facade.
Many married women also do not want to leave.
The longer an affair goes on the more it can get to be routine, which may make it boring and limited at times, and there is only so much that can be offered under the circumstances.
If the woman, (usually), wants marriage she will become frustrated and resentful. Whatever he does for his wife and whatever he buys or has given her will be a thorn in the relationship. These issues may be discussed or seething or cried about alone. Men may resent the time his lover spends with her spouse and want to be sure she is only sexual with him. He may also resent what her partner does and gives her. They can share what they do apart in word and deed as that is most of their lives.
They each need the reassurance of the love they share, as it is purely voluntary and without formal commitment; this also makes it a true choice. There is no ideal…not marriage, nor a second love. Sex, however, is such an important and driving force and feels so good, that it is usually worth the tribulations.
It is possible to love two at the same time but usually not possible to have a rewarding sexual life with true intimacy with more than one at a time. The marriage partner serves one purpose and the lover another. It takes rare people to maintain this duality.
History is replete with famous people, many creative types, that have sustained two such relationships; many for all their lives! So, know thyself and be aware of all that is involved before you say, “I like you too.” If not, Bon Chance!