The real cost of having an extramarital affair

People still resort to infidelity as the excuse, often unconscious, to end a difficult relationship. Many couples, however, choose to stay together after one or both has been unfaithful.

You enter into an exclusive, romantic, sexual relationship in good faith.

You have the intention of “forever,” in spite of knowing the statistics on marriage casualty. I certainly did, and I completely believed my partner did too… each time. (We just celebrate the 31st anniversary of our third marriage.)

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, marriages lasted between eight and nine years, ending in the death of one. As people started living longer, divorce gradually replaced death. Up to 1970 infidelity was the only grounds for divorce in Canada.

Then, as increasing numbers of committed couples didn’t legally marry, divorce laws became more liberal.

People still resort to infidelity as the excuse, often unconscious, to end a difficult relationship. Many couples, however, choose to stay together after one or both has been unfaithful.

So the big question I invite you to ponder is this: can a committed relationship fully recover after infidelity, without long-term costs?

Obviously, an exposed affair has short-term costs. Emotions run the gamut of betrayal, rage, grief, embarrassment and guilt. There may be temporary sleeping apart. If there are children present, they take on the stress too.

There may be psychotherapy and relationship therapy costs. The other man or woman may stalk or harass, leading to the legal costs of restraining orders.

The long-term costs are more subtle. Your partner desperately wants to have faith in you again, but even after years have passed, can’t seem to regain the former level of trust. You may be absolutely steadfast in your faithfulness, but you wonder how your partner could trust it to be true after what you did.

In the stress of this doubt, you think about having another affair, simply because it would be so easy.

If the affair ended without discovery or admission, there are still costs. You are permanently burdened with the knowledge that you have broken your commitment.

When your partner looks into your eyes with love and trust, you feel undeserving because you know what you did.

You resist your urge to confess, because you care about your partner and know how much it would hurt them.

It’s your problem, not theirs, so you resolve to carry it to the grave.

But you also know that in some circumstances people tend to confess to old transgressions. Circumstances include minor brain injury, terminal illness, dementia and, most common of all, alcohol intoxication. All you can do is hope you’ll dodge these bullets. Affairs can indeed carry heavy long-term costs, but the costs to the heart and spirit may be the highest.

Perhaps that is why so many relationships end after just one.

Dr. Neill is a Central-Island Registered Psychologist. You can reach him for an appointment at 250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com/contact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni issues water quality alert for Kitsuksis Creek area

Kitsuksis Creek residents urged to use alternate drinking water source

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

Learn the basics of publishing at Port Alberni workshop

George Opacic of Rutherford Press will present keys to the professional side of publishing

Septic truck rolls over without a spill west of Port Alberni

Single vehicle crash took place on Klekhoot Crescent

Vancouver Island partners sign hull design contract for floating LNG project

Steelhead LNG and partner Huu-ay-aht First Nations say the agreement was signed in Barcelona

Sproat Lake hosts fall dragon boat regatta

Port Alberni’s Sproat Ness Dragons earn third place

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read