The Many Consequences of an Affair

Updated 04/14/19

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Whether there was one event that ruptured your relationship or if it had been many years of unhappiness, a divorce is still a lot to comprehend. As a legal procedure, it inspects your lives with a fine-tooth comb, looking at finances, belongings, and even emotions in order to determine who deserves what in the split. 

When one of you has an affair, the entire process becomes that much more heated and urgent. Here is an outline of some of the consequences that an extra marital affair may have on your already contentious divorce. This includes legal, emotional, and psychological effects that this behavior has on a divorcing couple. 

Mutual Agreement

There are differing types of divorce, and each one has its own emotional and psychological intensity. There is the bilateral agreement divorce where both spouses are unhappy and conclude that they will be happier being apart. In a divorce like this, the couple is often able to come to a mutual agreement, settle their affairs amicably, and stay connected as friends with little emotional upset. This is an ideal divorce scenario. 

Trouble Ahead 

Then there is the unilateral divorce where one spouse makes the decision to divorce to the utter shock of the other spouse. This type of divorce means more emotional and psychological intensity for the spouse who was unaware of the problems in the marriage.

The one choosing to leave has had time to think about, reflect upon and weigh the options and to emotionally divorce themselves from the marriage. The other spouse, who is caught by surprise, may feel abandoned. There is an imbalance of power with the one leaving being the one in control of most aspects of whether or not the marriage will continue. 

The Problem With an Affair

Add to this a third party and the issue of an affair and the emotional intensity is compounded. Not only will the left behind spouse feel abandoned but they will also feel replaced by someone better, younger, more attractive. The pain in this type of divorce comes from losing a position of importance in the life of your spouse, from beliefs about immorality, betrayal and feelings of failure as a spouse.

When a third party enters a marriage, certain psychological things start to happen in the mind of the cheating spouse. Their thinking becomes skewed in order to justify their their behavior. Denial of any wrong doing means shifting the blame and usually it all gets dumped onto the faithful spouse.

Normally a spouse who falls prey to an affair is a decent person that is aware of their behavior and how it is frowned upon by society. Even though they are aware of the immorality of their actions, they continue with the relationship, which means dealing with feelings of guilt.

The Blame Game

Feelings of guilt motivates them to demonize the faithful spouse in an attempt to justify their affair. They will accuse their spouse of many negative and unforgivable traits and behaviors. The faithful spouse is portrayed as an inadequate partner, which left the cheating spouse no choice but to find an adequate replacement.

Not only will the faithful spouse be demonized, history is rewritten to make it appear that they have been inadequate for the entire duration of the marriage. The cheating spouse will recreate the marriage and what happened during the marriage to make it appear that they have suffered much pain and unhappiness throughout the entire marriage.

They may say things such as, "I was forced into marrying you" or "You've never loved me the way I needed to be loved" or, "I have lived in hell for years." They will say anything as long as it will enable them to come across as the victim of the marriage and be fully justified in abandoning their spouse by blaming the wronged spouse. 

Paying for Their Bad Behavior

The cheating spouse will tell their story enough that they will begin to believe that the left-behind spouse deserves punishment. The faithful spouse is the offender and the persecutor and needs to be dealt with harshly.

Punishment will come in the way of financial withholding or worse, fighting over custody for any children of the marriage. They may begin to believe that the faithful, demonized spouse is not entitled to receive any future benefits from them, sometimes not even those allowed by law.

Shock and Confusion

The faithful spouse will question their own sanity and replay their marriage in their mind trying to find some hint of all the unhappiness they are told of by the unfaithful spouse. They will question how their spouse, someone they have loved and trusted could betray them in such a way. First to have an affair and then to rewrite the history of their marriage in such a way as to try and lay blame at their feet.

The faithful spouse will wonder how their spouse could blame them for having to have an affair and how they could defame their character after many years of being given love, respect and trust. They will wonder how their spouse cannot see how their words and blaming does damage to the children by depicting their mother/father in a bad light.

The faithful spouse will question his/her own memory of what they thought was a happy marriage. They will wonder if the marriage was never anything but a sham and a figment of their imagination. They will wonder why the unfaithful spouse never complained if they were unhappy or why they never made a request for changes in the relationship.

Being punished for your spouse's cheating is an overwhelming state in which to find yourself. Recovery from the stress of such a profound emotional trauma is slow. If you have found yourself in such a situation, remember, with time comes healing and understanding. You will laugh again, love again and the sun will shine again. All you have to do is trust your memories, never forget that the insanity caused by an affair is not your fault and that you are not alone because in today's society cheating is the number one reason for divorce.

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