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Family Matters 04/25/19

Why Happy Couples Cheat

Why happy couples cheat

"I love my wife. We are friends, but I am cheating on her."

This husband represents a number of people, who are not in unhappy marriages, but still have an affair. Their partners are not problematic, yet they cheat. This doesn't fit our idea that only people in bad marriages are unfaithful. Something has to be wrong with the partner or marriage. Surprisingly, this not always hold true. Cheating can happen even in the confines of a happy marriage.

Regardless of the cause of an affair, cheating is destructive to a relationship. It is a betrayal, a breach of sacred trust and covenant, and extremely painful once revealed. Despite the havoc an affair creates, people still do it. One reason has to do with fact that cheating is a self-seeking act, usually accompanied by a feeling of entitlement to have passion or love. When marriage doesn't deliver a regular dose of felt passion and love, a partner goes outside the marriage. The thought is, "I can find this part of myself that seems to be missing."

The partner is unsettled, missing something in themselves and struggling with their own identity. They think passion will bring them alive again, empower them, and bring a better sense of self. This self-discovery lands them in the arms of another, a boundary they never thought they would cross. Of course, it ultimately does not work. You don't discover yourself apart from your significant other. That is a myth, but one the cultural promotes.

Affairs are not real life. You don't have to deal with crying babies, sick children, trips to the dentists, and more. You can escape and avoid your life in a world you have created.

Cheating involves secrecy, hiding, excitement, and adventure. For a moment, you can reinvent yourself and act out adolescent rebellion. The forbidden fruit is hanging and you get caught up in desire. Curiosity is raised. You add the person to Facebook. Secret messages are sent. Your passion and desire are aroused because it is new and adventurous. You are taking risks, being vulnerable, bucking the rules, and taking your freedom. It's reckless because you think the rules don't apply to you. In order to do all of this, you have to dissociate your real life and enter an alternative reality that doesn't include your partner. If you allowed yourself to think of your partner, it would be too painful to continue the cheating.

Cheating is about a desire for attention, to feel special, and important. It is a desire to be desired. And, I would add this relates to a spiritual void in most people. It was the original temptation. Eve desired the fruit and wisdom. She wanted to be like God instead of allowing God to fill all her desires. She wanted more and would not be content where she was. She was enticed by forbidden fruit.

Cheating happens in happy marriages because a person thinks they want someone they can't have. It brings novelty, adventure, and a passion that ebbs and flows in committed relationships. It's adventure for a bored and restless person. But, cheating can destroy a relationship and bring heartache to someone you love. So, before you give in to desire, thinking this will fix something inside you, ask, "Is this really a solution to my identity struggles? Do I want to possibly throw away a good thing for a temporary adventure? Do I fill the void I feel with something that is temporary and will eventually wear off?"

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