Midlife is truly a difficult time for any individual. It is usually marred with regrets, depression, doubts, confusion and many negative emotions. Most of us would react by having an unhealthy obsession over a new hobby or skill, while some spend their effort and resources on feeling and looking so much younger than their age. Unfortunately, many of those who undergo through a midlife crisis tend to respond with an extramarital affair too, making divorces and broken homes common results of a midlife crisis.
Cause of Midlife Affair
There can be an infinite number of reasons why many people choose to engage in an affair. One of the reasons that psychologists believed to be the cause is that this decision sprung from an individual’s desire to lead a double life. This means that even when a man wants a new and more thrilling life with a different lover, he still doesn’t want to give up his wife and kids. Additionally, this newfound exhilaration in being able to hide a secret life from their partners gives them a different and, yet, adventurous feeling that they have never experienced before.
Nonetheless, as often seen from movie clichés, such dual life doesn’t last undiscovered. Regrettably, these two lives cannot coexist without destroying the other. Once the infidelity is exposed, the cheater’s life easily breaks apart while the illicit lover becomes an image of hate and betrayal.
Surprisingly enough, some psychologists believe that being in an affair could actually be beneficial to a couple. Their arguments are grounded on the belief that most cheaters are naturally good and decent people who are just suffering from a midlife crisis. Thus, an affair is not a complete testament of their personality. Furthermore, they believe that a midlife affair would actually help the marriage by providing insight into why the couple’s relationship is failing and create a drive for change.
Other reasons for affair include distraction from responsibilities and stress, and to escape from a dull and repetitive daily routine. Most men in midlife crisis also use the affair to prove their worth and vigour by perceiving if they still got it. On the other hand, some wives enter this unhealthy relationship because they are unhappy with their husbands’ lack of affection, coupled with the stress of their own career, obligatory household routine and child-rearing responsibilities.
In summary, most couples have an affair by believing that this would somehow patch the void or what they felt has been missing in their lives. Sadly, this temporary remedy doesn’t heal the wounds but causes them to grow deeper.
Affairs don’t prove your vitality, just your immaturity.
Stages of the Affair
The Decision-making Phase.
This is where it all begins. Men who are looking for validation from younger ladies or wives who are carrying bottled up frustrations against their partners easily fall prey to the temptation of having an affair.
Most couples in affairs believe that they have everything they can possibly get from their marriage and it has nothing more left to offer. In order to move past the feeling of being trapped, they see the need to start a more daring and exciting relationship with someone new. This phase is actually an excellent opportunity to better understand and reflect where couples went wrong in their marriage and what they can do to fix it.
The Cheating Phase.
This is when an individual decides that their need for freedom and change is stronger than keeping their marriage unsullied. The ecstatic feeling of a fresh relationship gives them a sense of relief from stress and boredom, excitement from a new source and form of love and care, and even freedom from judgment and condescension they experience from their long-term partners.
However, you can never expect a relationship built by breaking a trust to last very long. According to a survey, a third of these affairs are often short-lived. Some last for only about seven to nine months and almost all of them fail generally after/around two years. This happens because the new relationships have emerged out of thin air on the basis of ‘newness’ or because eventually the relationships have been discovered which brings us to the next phase.
The Unearthing Phase.
Sooner or later, your partner will know of your secret affair and, ironically, at some level, you would expect this to happen. During this time, both the wife and the husband will have a discussion on what’s wrong with their relationship but usually with a lot of yelling, pointing of fingers and a round of blame game.
However, this event probably would lead to an ultimate realisation from both sides to either save or end their relationship. The questions in need of an answer or two are: Is the love for each other strong enough to forgive, forget and move on? Or the changes in their relationships have created an insurmountable chasm between them to end their relationship on that note?
The Publicity Phase.
The phrase “You reap what you sow” can never be truer in this scenario. The after-effects of a midlife affair are usually accompanied by shame, despair, hate and even judgment. Some of those who cheated would often hold the moral high ground still, and those cheated on feels cruelly wronged. Nevertheless, nobody comes out of this unscathed.
Unfortunately, these personal feelings are not the worst part of unearthing an affair. People among the friends, family and relatives who now know about this ill-conceived relationship would also pass their own judgments to the couple. The betrayed would become a perpetual object for pity and the cheater, an image of deceit and disgrace. It will take years for those who got in a midlife affair to take a position of trust, and most of them will have to recreate themselves to receive societal acceptance.
Trust is just like a mirror, once broken it can never be same again.
How to Approach a Midlife Affair
Learn the deeper cause of the problem.
Psychologists believe that the affair in itself is not the problem but a symptom of a deeper, underlying psychological malady. Instead of a hostile interrogation and aggressive attempt at change and restoration, learn the problem in a gentler, loving manner. An affair doesn’t mean that the love is lost, It is just redirected in the wrong direction. The challenge is to find something that could be missing in your relationship. Equally important is to figure out what your marriage needs without forcing your partner further away.
Carefully weigh any advice.
Spouses who have been betrayed are very vulnerable to terrible advice. Be careful in listening to other people’s counsel because they might have a completely different view on the problem. Besides, it is easy for others to say anything they want because they are not the ones who will suffer the consequences or the dire situations, You will. It is best to get help from a neutral reliable source or a professional who has more experience in listening and dealing with this kind of problem.
Take the initiative for change.
Most often than not, those who have been betrayed would place all the blame to the betrayer. While the cheater does carry the greater sin of unfaithfulness, the spouse could still have contributed to the cause that helped make this unfortunate event in their relationship possible. Instead of forcing your partner to solve their midlife crisis immediately, first, strive to become the better wife or husband and a true friend that they are looking for.