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When Fidelity Falters
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
It?s all over the news. The outlaw Jesse James allegedly betrayed his wife, Sandra Bullock. How devastating for her! If the rumors are true, she not only learned that her husband betrayed her deep trust, but she had to find out in the blinding glare of the public limelight. Unfortunately, this situation is not limited to tabloid fodder; married couples all over the country struggle with it. And, while there are as many reasons for affairs as there are affairs (only Jesse and Sandra really know what?s going on between them), all such betrayals have one basic common denominator: There is a problem.

The problem may actually be one of two. It could be a matrix of issues that fester between the spouses. If the inevitable conflicts that arise within a marriage are not addressed directly or effectively, they can take over and decay all that is good within the union. One reason this is relatively common is because spouses often try to minimize the importance of problems; they don?t want to see what it is they fear.

A second basic problem that might be at the root of an affair has more to do with struggles inherently within one person, but affecting the marriage. This spouse has difficulties maintaining a monogamous relationship due to any of a number of complex psychological needs. But what begins as one person?s issue then becomes a real problem in the marriage.

Although spouses can?t necessarily know when an affair is happening, they should know if their marriage is faltering. Rather than looking for lipstick on his collar or sniffing for cologne on her blazer, all couples would benefit more from regularly assessing how well their relationship is working. For instance: Do you feel emotionally close? Do you talk through difficult issues in a respectful way? Are you working together to meet each of your individual dreams, as well as joint dreams for your life together? Do you make time just for the two of you? Whether you?re a major celebrity or just sit home watching them on TV, these are the kinds of discussions that will keep a marriage on track; or let you know that there is something really wrong (whether or not an affair is involved).

If it is too late, and one of you has had an affair, then the priority is to address this crisis in the marriage. After all the tears have dried, if your marriage is to survive, the one who had the affair must take responsibility for betraying the bond. However, both need to be open to talking about the problems that existed before the betrayal and the ones that will likely arise going forward (i.e. trust issues). During these discussions, the betrayed party will likely exhibit a need to know why their partner chose that particular person (like a tattoo and fetish model), among other details. They will want to express a fireball of emotions, as well as understand why they were betrayed. This is healthy, but delicate; an obsession with too much detail can derail the healing process. In the end, if all issues are addressed, if both of you see that your thoughts and feelings are respected by the other, and if both of you make a serious commitment to rebuilding a happy life together, then you can recreate that happy marriage. Whether Sandra Bullock and Jesse James can weather that storm together (particularly in the light of flashes from the paparazzi), only time will tell.

Take the Poll

Under what circumstances would an affair NOT signal the end of your marriage?
  • A drunken liaison between two old lovers
  • A one-night stand with a stranger on a business trip
  • Sleeping with a platonic friend for comfort after a marital spat
  • Fulfilling a fantasy that the other spouse will not accommodate
  • None. Any infidelity is grounds for divorce.
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scperdomo responded:
I would say that any infidelity is grounds for divorce. Of course, I do not know what I would actually do should the situation present itself.

I think the marriage would need a serious reevaluation. The cheater would need to prove that the infidelity was a mistake and that they truly did not want to leave the marriage. If the affair was a cry for change and the cheater no longer wanted to be married, then, obviously we would begin working toward dissolving the marriage. But especially if children are involved, I think it would be hard to just walk away, it would be hard to walk away in any event, but even more so I think when children are a part of the equation.

Marriage is sacred. Sex is not "just physical", it is an act that is reserved for when people are so in love with each other that the act of coming together and "becoming one" is the only possible way to truly show their love for each other. There are many reasons for sex, infidelity is not one of them.

We were not created to be polygamous. We were not created to deal with heartbreak and cheating. We were created to be monogamous. The whole "men have needs" line is crap, men don't have "needs" they have "wants". They don't have needs any more than women have needs and we don't need sex. They use that as an excuse to get away with cheating and sleeping around in my opinion and it usually works because people just accept the double standard.

I will now step down off my soapbox, thank you.
 
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andinuku replied to scperdomo's response:
I have a delimma, I have just recently found out that my soon to be husband has been on the phone regularly with an old girlfriend. I asked him about it and he said that nothing sexually had been going on, just talking. So I tried to explain to him that in a close relationship that this type of rekindling of "friendships" can be very dangerous to a new marriage and we had already had that discussion as to how we would feel about each other talking to someone of the opposite sex on the regular. It wouldn't have been so hurtful if he had not been lying and sneeking around about it. I just feel so betrayed and he feels that I should just love him enough to believe whatever he has to say about it and forget it and go on. I say that there is a time of rebuilding trust and respect for what a person says. I told him that I was going to check his phone calls on line and see if he was really telling me the truth that he had broken it off and he was very defensive and said that I should just believe him and go on... I did check and guess what,,, still calls coming in and going out.... what to do??
 
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MickeyV3047 responded:
Many marriages occur for all the wrong reasons and thus are susceptible to varyingly degree of infidelity. Men often marry because of sexual satisfaction or for general attractiveness. These are poor foundations in which to base a marital relationship. Thus the marriage is subject to failure. It is like building you home on sand instead of solid rock.

Men often feel that they have a right to satisfy their sexual needs in whatever manner they choose and feel that it should not affect their relationship with their mate. In many cultures around the world this is understood and accepted by men but not always by their mates. They do not seem to recognize that marriage is a legally binding contract. Violation of that contract is a breech of trust and subject to legal action.

Marriages that succeed are based on the foundation of True Love or Agape (Greek) Love. It requires a full and undying commitment to ones spouse. In Christianity this was expressed by Jesus Christ allowing him to be tortured and hung on a cross for the sake of all his followers. This was an expression of his love for all those who chose to follow his teachings.

A willing to compromise and adjust to ones spouse is a degree of devotion and love. If neither spouse is prepared to do this then it is a rocky road ahead.
 
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NissanStern responded:

Maybe people should lower their expectation form family. Maybe when we all stop idolizing life as a one unbroken unit, except the fact that we all have faults and weaknesses, maybe just maybe men and women will be able to handle down time and disappointment.
 
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thisgirlinoc replied to andinuku's response:
I think that since you're asking for advice on a website instead of listening to your friends and family, then you know what you should do. He's proven that he's not trustworthy. If he lies about just talking on the phone, he's going to lie about meeting her in person. My best friend tried for 4 years to make a relationship work with a man who lied about talking on the phone and texting his ex. At the end of 4 years, someone told her he'd been sleeping with her. While breaking off the engagement will be incredibly painful now, think about how bad it will hurt to stay with a liar, have children with him, and then find out he's sleeping with another woman. If he can't treat you the way you deserve to be treated (with respect and honor) then he has absolutely no business being your partner, husband, children's father, or friend.
 
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janeunreveur replied to andinuku's response:
I think you might know the answer. The question is are you prepare to face it. You can suffer now or later, but why prolong the agony. A lot of misconception by women thinking that they can change the men after they married them. So you think that he may be an exemption to the rule? Care to stay around 24/7 with your soon to be husband for the rest of your denial 5,10,15--20 years. Single mother with kids later to support with however many jobs. Guys are particularly more difficult to find on these terms. That 's why most divorced women settles on either more or just as compromising than the ex.
 
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An_210960 replied to scperdomo's response:
In all fairness to other guys who really truly love thier wives and are loyal. They are rare. In the span of married years, some at least thought of other women. It's been proven somehow that men are different when it comes to fidelity. Anatomical functions are not the same with women. It's even acceptable to other cultures. You have a beautiful, intelligent and loving wife, so what went wrong here ? ...Nothing strange about this it's just some men are.
It's all up to the women what they can take. She can be strong and move on or be strong and stand by her man.
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to andinuku's response:
As others here have said, you seem to know the answer to your question-- at least you seem to know that you cannot just let this pass. You need to be true to yourself; which means being honest with yourself. Even in this situation, that can mean different things. Maybe it means walking away. Maybe it means working on the relationship more-- either alone or with the help of counseling (on your own or as a couple). But, whatever you do, if you are honest with yourself and work in your own best interests, then you will at least be able to feel "good" looking at yourself in the mirror no matter what the outcome. As you go through this difficult time, remember to reach out to supportive people in your life-- that can make all the difference in getting through. Best of luck to you.
 
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Chinrescue replied to andinuku's response:
Ditch the guy. Fast. People don't change their basic personalities, and his is going to break your heart.
 
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An_210961 responded:
Infidelity is the only reason for divorce in my book. My dad cheated on my mom about 15 years ago and she decided to forgive him. He hasn't cheated again (I hope) but the relationship isn't the same. My dad lies about other things. I've told my mom several times that its ok with me if they divorce (my brothers and my wellbeing was the reason why my mom didn't divorce him in the first place). She didn't want us to blame her or me mad at her for the divorce but now that I am older I see the man he really is. My mom is a great women, hardworker, loyal, wise, honest, goldy and she doesn't deserve to be treated like this. But its not only my mom, no women should be disrespected like that. So yeah, if a man cheats Divorce Him! I wouldn't be able to trust him again.
 
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ChristinePeck replied to andinuku's response:
If he does this before you are married, you would be a fool to think he won'd continue after you're married. Back out while you still can.
 
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BOBBBBBBBBBBO responded:
Remember that infidelity goes both ways. Both genders can participate, not only men (just basing off what I have read in the replys so far).

Regardless, I hold any relationship I am in as a sacred entity. Married or not, cheating is not acceptable and no matter the reason, is grounds for termination.

You dont just give up your body like that and expect your formal partner to look the other way.

No excuses, period.
 
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fcl replied to An_210961's response:
"Infidelity is the only reason for divorce in my book"

Then you probably have never known anyone who suffered abuse, physical and mental cruelty, brutality ... Men and women, all over the world, every day, are demeaned and beated by the person who is supposed to love them. Many die ...
 
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An_210962 responded:
I have had the experience of my spouse having an affair & the person that he went with was in a low,degrading, slutty, job! If he would have had an affair with someone like a nurse, school teacher,Realtor, (someone with respectful employment), that sure would have maybe explained or helped seeing why he was interested in that person, to have an affair in the 1st place! Why would a man choose trash, slutty,a low down person, when they have family at home ? Even if you don't want your spouse anymore, would you want your child/children to ever learn who you had an affair with? My problem has been: TRUST after the affair. Also there was more situations that came up besides just this one girl! Is it possible to TRUST that person who cheated & had that affair? I had a friend & her husband had a fling, & she acted like all was forgiven! It's just I never thought he would cheat! I had 100% trust in him. That affair happened 10 yrs. ago & I still think about it! I don't trust him (very little).


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