When I was a child it wasn't something you could say out loud. Those three words, almost always whispered or perhaps heard in a movie:
e-x-t-r-a m-a-r-i-t-a-l a-f-f-a-i-r.
Today, the taboo has lifted somewhat. It seems that people all around me are having extramarital affairs., regardless of their socioeconomic background. Some instances come as a shock because things seemed to be going well in the marriage. You can't help but wonder -- Why?
Something obviously went wrong somewhere. In this post, I am listing some possible reasons as to why people indulge in an extramarital affair, based on my own observations and conversations with those who are pursuing relationships outside of their marriage.
1. Early marriage
People who marry in early 20s would most likely have achieved some level of stability and social standing by their mid-30s. At that point, they feel that they did not really enjoy life in their 20s, and find it exciting to indulge in an extramarital affair. It is their way of experiencing the thrill and excitement of dating.
2. Married for the wrong reasons
Many people enter into marriage for the wrong reasons. Pressures from family and society top the list in India. After a point, many people agree to marriage without even getting to know their life partner. Once the deed is done, they realise the mistake they have made in terms of the choice of their life partner. If they meet someone who is in any way a better match than their current spouse, they are immediately attracted to him/her. And what starts as a simple friendship usually ends up in an affair.
"While most women give their 200% into being mothers, I know of several men who suddenly feel lost and unimportant at home, and indulge in extra-marital affairs."
3. Inability to deal with changes
Life throws changes at us almost every day. Most of us are able to deal with the small changes. But the bigger ones are tougher to deal with - a serious illness the family, death, loss of employment, financial loss, etc. Many turn to people apart from their spouses to deal with such changes. They find more comfort in the arms of someone new, perhaps someone not connected to their tough circumstances in any way.
4. Becoming parents
Becoming parents changes everything about a husband-wife relationship. Priorities change, the time you can give each other reduces and your immediate living environment alters drastically. While most women give their 200% into being mothers, I know of several men who suddenly feel lost and unimportant at home, and indulge in extramarital affairs. And since most women are usually so busy being mothers, they probably don't even realise this for a long time
5. Physical dissatisfaction
This is probably one of the most common reasons for people to get involved in an extramarital affair.
6. Emotional disconnect
Sometimes a couple grows emotionally disconnected from each other, the top reasons being lack of time and lack of communication with each other. To be emotionally connected, you need to share, you need to talk, you need to express, you need to listen, you need to laugh, you need to care and show that you care. If you don't do this, over a period of time, chances are you will get emotionally disconnected from each other as a couple and start getting emotionally connected with someone else. What starts out as an emotional bond with someone can eventually lead to an extramarital affair.
7. Disagreements on core values
Sometimes when you experience a tough situation in life, your core values are tested. And you have to make decisions which may not be palatable to your family -- especially your spouse. Sometimes this could be the cause for irreconcilable differences, which triggers an extramarital affair.
8. Differing life priorities
When a couple gets married, many times they don't speak about life priorities -- simply because it is not so important or people are not so clear. With time, the priorities start getting clearer and more pronounced, and increasingly divergent. Over time, these become so different that it becomes tough to live together and agree on even basic things on a daily basis. This can be a catalyst for an extramarital affair.
"Some people get into a relationship simply because they believe it can advance their career."
9. No common interests
If you have nothing in common with each other, you'll eventually get absorbed in pursuing your own divergent interests. You will end up not spending enough time together. As you spend time away from each other, you get opportunities to interact with others. And gradually start building a bond with those who share your interests. Many times this leads to an extramarital affair.
10. Need for excitement
Sometimes it is sheer boredom or a need to break the monotony and drudgery of everyday life that is the reason for an extramarital affair. Just for fun, for a change or for some excitement.
11. Personal finances
Difficulties in personal finances (excess debts and liabilities), or lack of agreement on personal financial management can sometimes be the trigger for constant bickering within the four walls. And at such a vulnerable time, anyone who gives a hearing to your woes or some financial support is welcome. And this can lead to an extramarital affair.
12. Career advancement
Sad but true! Some people get into a relationship simply because they believe it can advance their career.
While these are the broad reasons, usually it is a combination of many of these which drives people into an extramarital affair.
All said and done, it is tough to see a couple go through the stress of an extramarital affair. Relationships are broken. Children are affected. There could be lifelong issues with guilt and trust. It's not an easy situation for anyone.
What do you think? What are some other reasons for extramarital affairs? Leave a comment to let me know.
A version of this post first appeared on the author's blog