Weekend: Mental Health Moment

This is part one of a two-part series on extramarital affairs.


Most of us know someone who has had an affair. Perhaps it has happened in your own marriage. Marital infidelity is on the rise and is a common issue I deal with in my counseling office. Husbands as well as wives are guilty of having extramarital affairs. Many people are often shocked to learn of the affair, believing everything was OK.

Here are a few explanations to help understand what is going on in marriages that make affairs so prevalent:

  • Our moral compass is an internal guide, or code of conduct, that we use to make decisions and choices. It is based on our upbringing, religion or society. Some people have a very black and white sense of right and wrong, while others see moral decisions as more flexible and gray. This aspect alone is a contributor to the increase of affairs. The moral compass of our society has become weakened.
  • I hear some people say, “I’m just not happy anymore.” Instead of turning toward their spouse, they turn toward someone else. Often, there is a sense of entitlement toward happiness and immediate satisfaction. Just like our moods, the marital relationship will be up and down. We may feel unhappy at times. This feeling needs to trigger the importance of having a heart-to-heart talk with your spouse so you can identify unmet needs.
  • When communication breaks down, we misunderstand each other, are not on the same page and tend to isolate ourselves. Hurt, anger and resentment will begin to grow. The only way to really know someone is to communicate openly and honestly with them.
  • Another reason for an affair is lack of standards and boundaries. Many will say, “It will never happen to me.” Situations of caution would include business trips with a co-worker or boss, business lunches or coffee, an isolated friendship, and texting or emailing on a personal level with the opposite sex. These are just a few examples of when a person who does not have high standards and firm boundaries can easily get mixed up in an affair.
  • Many affairs begin out of anger and revenge. If needs are not being met and arguments are taking place, some will selfishly justify having an affair. A breakdown of love and respect allows one or both people to seek what they think they need outside of the marriage.
  • Commitment in marriage is the superglue holding us together when things are difficult. Lack of commitment causes the marriage to lose strength and causes the foundation of the marriage to crack and crumble. Without commitment, the marriage can easily be broken up due to an affair.

Having knowledge of what causes the breakdown in marriage is the key to preventing an affair. Following through by doing the hard work will pay off by protecting marriage from one of the most damaging and hurtful life events.

Foust is owner of Lighthouse Counseling Services, Findlay, and is a licensed professional clinical counselor. If you have a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay 45839.



About the Author