Discussing affairs is considered “taboo” in our society – but even more taboo is when a woman is the one with a wandering eye. When a woman has an affair, society tends to view her as promiscuous, selfish, cold and as being a bad mother. I have met many women who feel shame after having an affair. One of the main reasons these same women stray away from their partners is because they feel TRAPPED.
I’m sure you’re thinking why don’t they just leave if they are so unhappy? Unfortunately, the fear of being judged and stigmatized for leaving their relationship often clouds a woman’s decision. They will try their best to cope with an unhappy situation as best they can.
When relationships break down, many women ask their partner for more connection; more support emotionally and with domestic duties; and more kindness or regard. But after years of begging and pleading, without getting the support and connection they desperately need, they’re left feeling alone, disconnected and unheard. Many women will put their family and children before their own desires. Breaking up the family and having their children live in two separate homes is not an option. In order to keep themselves content and their family intact, some women look for the companionship they long for elsewhere.
Many women find themselves stuck with upholding traditional values. This pressure typically comes from extended family. Maybe their parents stuck it out in a “less than perfect” marriage and believe you have to find ways to tolerate a less than perfect relationship. Sometimes, extended family would only tolerate abuse as an acceptable reason for leaving a relationship – and sometimes not! To keep everyone happy, these women don’t leave the relationship, but find reprieve with another.
Abusive relationships can also cause women to be stuck. Their partner is likely controlling and making threats about ruining their life or taking the children, so they feel there is no choice but to stay. These women often seek support from others. They engage in new friendships and sometimes these friendships grow into affection. For some women, they know an affair is the only way their partner will release them from the relationship.
Being on the other side:
If you are the one that has been victimized by an affair, it is likely there is nothing your partner can say to justify their actions. However, try to be curious about the pain the individual was going through prior to them taking such a drastic step, even when your instinct is to judge the affair. Understanding why it happened is a good place to start healing.
If an affair has been revealed in your relationship and you would like support to repair, start healing or recover, reach out to us at the Vaughan Relationship Centre.