November 6, 2015
What’s Wrong with Having An Affair???
Statistics suggests people more likely to be fully committed and develop increasingly enjoyable sexual relationships after they marry, if they had a chance earlier to have other sexual relationships. Unless it’s against their religious convictions, of course.
If people are faithful to their partner just because somebody – even a religious leader – told them to be, they’re always going to be struggling against temptation because there will always be a part of them speculating about what it would be like? Wondering whether it might not be slightly terrific, although still wicked, of course. This fantasizing is almost inevitable.
There’ll be quite a lot of energy expended in trying to repress the fantasies, too. So the fidelity won’t be truly ‘whole-hearted’. There’s a split. Such a person will have a fear of becoming turned on sexually even with their committed partner because they’re frightened that if they took the brakes off, they might not be able to control themselves when they met someone else they found attractive. So, for safety’s sake, they keep the brakes on all the time; which, of course, limits their capacity to have a fulfilling relationship with their spouse. That’ll mean a bit of them remains unsatisfied, and that’ll fuel the fantasizing.
Whereas, if you’ve learned from experience that trying to run two relationships degenerates into a French farce, and after a time a rather unfunny one, lacking real spontaneity because of all the lies you have to hold in your head, which gets not only complicated and rather hard work, but that it eventually brings a lot of unpleasant – if foreseeable – consequences, and also wrecks the possibility of having an excellent relationship with either of the people involved. So if you’ve learned all that, you won’t waste much time on dreams about affairs because you understand why they don’t work. In other words, you’ll be faithful to your partner because you want to be. You won’t waste much time imagining being permanently cured of the idea that they are ‘fun’. And that makes possible a much more complete commitment to your spouse because it’s no longer the result of a struggle against temptation, it’s based on real understanding.
Experience will bring a higher degree of integration. You can give more of yourself to the relationship because more of you is convinced that it’s a good idea.
Experience shows that more healthy couples are more committed but from choice. They don’t play around because they don’t want to, and one reason for that is that they could if they wanted to. As the actor Paul Newman said when asked why he seemed to be so committed to his wife, Joanne Woodward: “Why have hamburger out when you can have steak at home?” And the research findings support this. They show a pattern of long-term marital fidelity in the healthiest couples.
The problem with infidelity is that it inevitably leads to lying, which destroys trust and intimacy. Lying means you can’t be open, can’t be entirely yourself, and that naturally makes real intimacy impossible. If people are healthy, they will, therefore, be straight about other attractions they may feel. And because they aren’t possessive and clinging, there would be no reason feeling ‘turned on’ by members of the opposite sex other than their partner should cause problems; indeed, I would expect it to enhance the relationship, make them more aware of, and turned on by each other. But having another sexual relationship is another matter, because this would prevent either relationship from reaching its full possibility. It’s possible to ride two motorbikes at the same time – you see it done in circuses sometimes – but not as well or as enjoyable as you can ride one! Expect more healthy couples to make a choice, not out of guilt or fear of the partner’s reaction, but because the existing relationship is so rich and they want to preserve it and make it healthier.
So a good principle is: until you’ve had enough experience, pay attention to injunctions!
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