By R.S. Kamini

IT started off with the exchange of sexual innuendoes over text messages, but soon Oliver was asked out on a date.

The writer found himself attracted to the new girl he had just met. A few outings later, he made a move on her and she reciprocated. There was only one problem. She was married.

It didn’t really matter to Oliver because his secret lover justified the relationship as a way of teaching her cheating husband a lesson.

But soon their relationship becomes an emotional turmoil as his lover begins to reconcile with her husband. Someone had to back off.

“It was the right thing to do since I was unattached. I didn’t want to ruin her marriage especially since she made the decision to salvage her relationship with her husband.

“It did hurt for a long while because I was beginning to fall in love with her,” says Oliver.

Scandalous affairs are everywhere.

Medical officer Dr Shiva can vouch that they take place in hospitals.

“I’ve worked in two hospitals and I’ve walked into on-call rooms only to find my peers making out on the couch or behind the closet.

“They are usually older male doctors who are married and female housemen. It’s really awkward especially when you know them personally, but I cannot judge them.

“They probably end up having affairs because they are at the hospital longer than they are at home.

“They probably have wives who don’t understand the nature of their job or they’re probably too tired by the time they get home that nothing really happens — from conversations to spending some intimate time together,” says Dr Shiva.

Long hours at workplaces can be a contributing factor to affairs says USA-licensed marriage and family therapist Dr Johnben Loy.

“People need to take note of how workplace stressors and temptations can come in between their relationship.

“One partner could be stressed and tired at work while the other is stressed and tired of taking care of young children.

“When they come together, conflicts spark and over time this can weaken their bond. One partner could be enticed by having a relationship with another person at workplace to replace that weakening bond,” he tellsThe Rakyat Post.

Dr Loy says there’s generally a perception that something is not right in a marriage or a committed relationship that prompts a partner to seek outside.

“Basically, people cheat because they cannot get out of their commitment (marriage or relationship), but they desire for something that they cannot get from their partners — more love, sex, respect, intimacy, affection, validation and connection.”

He says while both men and women have intimacy needs, men are more generally geared towards having affairs for sexual needs while women seek emotional closeness.

If couples have been together for a very long time or have only had each other for a lifetime, he adds, they may want to explore something different.

“A man facing mid-life crisis may want to recover his youthful vitality so he looks for younger partners who can make him feel energetic again.

“A woman born in the 1960s for example, may have gotten married without entering into a career after university.

“She may want to go out and explore the world especially when all her children are grown up. Such a change can have implications for her husband of over 25 years, who may be ready to wind down his career and spend more time with her.

“This could lead to conflicts which, if not managed well, can lead to affairs.

“From a psychological perspective, what remains a secret will not hurt anyone for a while, but that would also depend on one’s moral leanings.

“An individual with high morals cannot keep his or her affairs a secret for a very long time without having to compromise his or her attitude.

“At some point, the person’s integrity will wear out and the other partner will realise something is not quite right. Personally I think it’s better to come clean and seek help to overcome infidelity,” says Dr Loy.

Counsellor and academician Bawany Chinapan says most couples who have been together for a long time will know that something is amiss if there is infidelity involved.

“Most of the time there will be ample evidence that the spouse may find out such as a lipstick stain or perfume smell (that does not belong to her) and accepts the excuses given by their partners.

“Most partners who are married for a long time will know something is brewing, but may not want to stir the marriage or the relationship by confronting because of fear of losing the relationship.

“Or, at other times, they may convince themselves that it cannot be true and that their partner loves them. So it is not about what you don’t know will not hurt you but rather the choice taken to deny or ignore the cues that exist until they are forced to face the truth,” says Bawany.

“Men cheat for a number of reasons. I have heard clients say the woman they married and the mother of their children are two different persons.

“Other common excuses given are the thrill of having an affair and purely for sex. I know a client who did it just for sex, but admitted to loving his wife very much. Sex and love are two different things and, for him, it was biological.

“Women look for emotional connection and are likely to have an affair because she is lonely. They need to feel wanted, connected, sexy and loved.”

Both Dr Loy and Bawany agree that couples should seek help when they sense trouble brewing in their relationship, especially when they are committed to it.

Fighting and arguments are not so much of a concern compared with couples who are stonewalling or giving each other the cold shoulder.

Doing things together, taking some time off for an intimate holiday or going for therapy can help in many ways if a couple is serious about saving their marriage or relationship.

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