Tag Archives: causes of infidelity

Why Do Affairs Happen?

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A new book written by Scott Haltzman, M.D., sheds light on The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity. You may remember Dr. Haltzman from one of my most popular posts, “We all married the wrong person.” Dr. Haltzman, a psychiatrist and marital therapist, has written a helpful and hopeful book for couples who have been or may be impacted by infidelity. If you want to learn why people have affairs, why they are so difficult to stop, how to protect your marriage, and how a marriage can recover from it, these are all addressed.

I’m going to give a copy of the book away on the blog this week, so if you’d like to read it, leave a comment below. Today, I want to give just a short intro from the book on why affairs occur. Strangely, Dr. Haltzman says most affairs take place between two people who had absolutely no intention of cheating. That’s why we must be careful about the kinds of interactions we have with people outside of our relationships.

People of course have various reasons for affairs—sex, curiosity, excitement, companionship, an ego-boost, career advancement, or getting even with a spouse are some of the reasons given. But in order for an affair to take place, three elements must be in play: (NOD) Need, Opportunity, and Disinhibition.

Need—As for the needs, Dr. Haltzman says spouses spend too much energy determining which exact needs were not being met when the affair happened. In truth, we all have needs that our partner will not be able to meet. In addition, there may be confusion about needs vs. desires and what we believe our partner should be fulfilling in us.

Opportunity—Not everyone is prone to cheating, but those who are may find an opportunity almost anywhere, from meeting someone at the gym, at PTA meetings, church, bars, work, on Facebook, or any other location we happen to be. “If no one is around to cheat with, cheating simply will not take place,” says Dr. Haltzman.

Disinhibition—In medical terminology, this means the inability to inhibit an instinctual reaction, says Dr. Haltzman. These are people who have been trained or trained themselves that “I want what I want when I want it.” They may be impulsive, unthinking of the consequences of their behavior. Some medical issues may contribute to increased disinhibition, including ADHD, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, brain illnesses, and other psychiatric problems. Others simply justify one choice after another, leading down a slippery slope into an affair.

Dr. Haltzman explains in detail the role of neurotransmitters/brain chemicals that affect our emotional balance, particularly during affairs or potential affairs. The bottom line is that the excitement produced in a new relationship affects our emotions and energy levels, and they make it difficult to make good judgments. Therefore, someone in an affair will conclude that this person is their “soul mate” and believe they “need” them. This is because when they are with this person, the tension that has been developed is relieved, the level of worry and sleeplessness decreases and they feel “complete.” It’s not because the relationship or the person is ideal, it’s because the brain chemistry (low serotonin, high dopamine, high norepinephrine) has been affected. But of course, this state of mind can’t be maintained, because that brain chemistry level can’t be maintained.

The book is definitive on affairs being wrong and bad for the marriage, but it’s also relatively compassionate toward the person having the affair, helping them understand the reasons they find it so difficult to untangle themselves from this other person while insisting on it and explaining the steps. It’s almost half intended for the spouse and half for the person who had the affair, helping couples to both prevent affairs and to recover one. I thought the book was really well thought out, and I would highly recommend it, having read many others on the topic.

Tomorrow, I’m going to share some questions and answers directly from Dr. Haltzman based on my interview with him. Remember, if you would like to be in the drawing for the book, add a brief note below and I’ll put your name in.

You can find Dr. Haltzman at Facebook.com/ScottHaltzman or at secretsofmarriedmen.com. His book, Secrets of Surviving Infidelity is available in bookstores or at Amazon.com.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Women Breadwinners are More Likely to be Cheated On

CNN has released details of a new study that says men are more likely to cheat on women who earn more money than they do. (Think Sandra Bulluck and Jesse James.) The amount of the disparity seemed to change fidelity rates with men who were completely dependent on the woman five times more likely to cheat than men who earned similar amounts as their female partner.

The study’s author, Christin Munsch, says the income disparity may threaten traditional views, or it could be that these men just happen to be unhappy in the relationship.

Before you start feeling sympathetic for these under-earning men, the study reports that men who make significantly MORE than their wives or girlfriends ALSO are more likely to cheat because his job may require long hours or travel, and this situation may be more conducive to cheating.

Hmmm … sounds like a lot of excuses for why some men may feel it is acceptable to cheat. The men who were least likely to cheat are men in relationships with women who earned 75 percent of their income. Perhaps certain men feel this allows them to view their mate as a partner without feeling they have lost control?

Women in the study, unlike the men, were more faithful when they depended on the male for financial security; they were half as likely to cheat. Munsch says this situation may be more socially acceptable and nonthreatening, they may have fewer opportunities to cheat, or they may not feel it’s worth the risk.

(Studies have shown women are less likely to cheat. Do you agree with Munsch’s reasons, or do you believe women have lower sexual desire or greater control of their sexual impulses? Or do they care more about the morality or impact of their decision?)

The good news is that within the study of married and cohabiting couples, only a small number of them experienced cheating—3.8 percent of the male partners and 1.4 percent of the female partners.

I think it can be healthy to have either partner being the breadwinner, and I know some stay-at-home fathers who are very appreciated by their high-earning wives. Whichever spouse earns more, he or she should not pretend to control the relationship with the purse strings or claim to have more say because of the size of their paycheck. The partner who is earning less may be sacrificing for the family, with home and child rearing responsibilities, and that should be valued as much as the dollars earned.

I agree that high earners probably have more opportunities to cheat, particularly with travel and professional connections. (If you face temptations, put protective measures in place, such as not going out to lunch with a colleague whom you find attractive.) However, any partner who chooses to stray can find the opportunity. Both genders can and should have the capacity to be faithful to the commitments they have made.

That being said, I know many couples who have successfully overcome infidelity. If you or your partner has cheated, find a pro-marriage counselor to help you through the crisis.

What do you think about this study’s results and about men’s and women’s propensity to stray?

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