Why Do Affairs Happen?

Every marriage is unique and so are its problems and circumstances, just as the individuals in the marriage are unique. One of the first questions a wronged (or even the cheating) spouse asks when infidelity occurs is “Why did the affair happen?” A new article by Tammy Nelson, PhD, a marriage and relationship therapist has some surprising answers. The article is called “Why Did the Affair Happen?” and it may shed some light on your situation if you’re dealing with an affair in your marriage. It can also help you avoid one. Here are two of the reasons that we found most interesting:

1. Collusion in the affair.

According to Dr. Nelson, some cheated-on spouses may actually have unconsciously colluded (or cooporated) with their spouses in the affair.

This secret cooperation may mean the betrayed partner is doing something in the relationship to collude with his or her partner’s behavior, even if he or she doesn’t realize it. To be unconsciously aware means that on some level, the betrayed partner had an idea that their spouse was cheating.”


Dr. Nelson cites a 1995 study by marriage therapists that showed

89% of betrayed spouses in the study were consciously aware of the infidelity or, even if they did not acknowledge it, really did know about the affair.”

2. Affairs as Exits.

Dr. Nelson says that some cheating spouses use affairs to remove themselves from the marriage relationship or to avoid being truly “present” in the marriage.

Any behavior that is used to avoid ways to engage with your partner is considered an exit. Bigger exits include things like gambling, drinking, and taking drugs. An affair is considered one of the biggest exits.”

Dr. Nelson goes on to explain that the cheating spouse often seeks to remove him/herself because they feel their partner is already disengaging.

Often, one or both partners may see an affair as a way to avoid conflict or intimacy, and eventually may see it as an exit from the relationship. In exploring why your partner pursued an affair, you may discover that he perceived that you exited the relationship first.”

If you’re dealing with an affair in your marriage or are worried that you may have to, it’s important to remember that, as this article points out, affairs are rarely black and white situations that are strictly based on the physical.

One Response to Why Do Affairs Happen?

  1. Cathy Lorient April 2, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Are you currently dealing with an affair in your marriage? What do you think about the primary causes of an affair? Kindly leave your comments below.

    – Cathy Lorient

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