Episode 22: Do Affairs that Break-up a Marriage Last?

by | Last updated: Aug 28, 2023 | Podcast

Have you had an affair and wondered if you could have a fresh start with your affair partner? Maybe you’ve seen the statistics – which aren’t helping your optimism. What does it take to make that affair relationship last? And will it be worth it in the long run?

In this episode, we will explore why people get into affairs in the first place, and what you are really looking for. The truth is, when one or both of the affair partners become 100% available, the dynamic is going to change. The question is – will it be what you’re looking for?

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In This Episode:

  • Why people begin affairs
  • What happens to the affair after the marriage ends
  • Who you are attracted to in an affair partner
  • What you need for the relationship to thrive

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Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you’re serious about finding that answer?

Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.

Welcome to The Loving Truth podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now, your host, relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.

Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope, and this is The Loving Truth. Today we are talking about whether or not affairs that break up a marriage ultimately last.

Now, if you are involved in an affair, you have probably Googled these statistics, and so you know that the numbers aren't exactly in your favor. Essentially, it's about five to seven percent of the couples end up getting married, and seventy-five of those five to seven percent that get married, those marriages also ultimately end up in divorce. Right? So we're going to talk today about why that is and why the numbers are so bad and not stacked in your favor.

But first, I think it's really important to understand why you're involved in an affair. So while there are some people on the planet that actively seek out affairs, most of those people don't find their way to my work. The people that find their way to my work will say things like, "I never imagined I would be someone who would get involved in an affair."

They might even say, "I used to judge people who got involved in an affair. I never saw this coming. I never went looking for it." All of those things. But I love how Aer Parel sort of frames this topic, which is around the subconscious reasons why we would get involved in an affair. And she says, it's really for one of two reasons. Either we're going to use an affair to blow up a bad marriage, a painful, struggling marriage, or we're going to use an affair to endure and remain in a bad marriage. Right?

And now, this is a broad generalization, but essentially women tend to do it more to blow up a relationship rather than confront the problems in the relationship. And men tend to have affairs to endure a bad marriage where they have no intention of necessarily leaving, but they will use an affair to distract themselves or to get some other need met in order to remain in a marriage that doesn't feel good for them. So what and who we attract and the timing of all of that, it all plays into it. And we're gonna get into the details of that.

But I first want to share with you the story of a client of mine. We'll call her Hannah; it's obviously not her name. She's been married for sixteen years, and for the last eight months, she's been involved in an affair. And she would tell me how she kept trying to break off the affair because she knew that it was wrong. And they would go two or three weeks without talking, and then one of them would have a weak moment and they would reach back out, and then they'd be back into the thick of it again. And so she's done this three different times.

Now, people will often refer to this, and I refer to it a lot, as you feel like you're on a drug. Like there's something about this that is outside of your control that you can't possibly turn away from. And from a physiology perspective, you kind of are on drugs because the dopamine response that is happening inside your body makes it feel like you're kind of on drugs when you're falling in love and you're involved in an affair.

So they kept coming back together, and now they have come back together. And let me tell you this, even though Hannah is in the midst of a divorce now, which you would normally think, "Oh, we're moving through a divorce, now we can be together, right?" Well, not necessarily, because now even though she's moving through a divorce, the relationship with her affair partner is not feeling like it used to feel. And she said it's actually become really painful for her.

And so now in the midst of a divorce, she is sort of mourning the loss of this dream, the death of a dream of what she thought they were going to be together. And that feels super vulnerable for her because she's mourning the loss of one relationship while she's unwinding and essentially mourning the loss of a marriage. So there are two things that she's losing at once and no safety net. So it feels super vulnerable for her.

So let's dive into how we get here and why these numbers and why so many of these relationships ultimately don't last. So the first thing I'm going to say is the most important piece of it or the largest piece of it. And that is all around who we attract and why we attract them.

So think about where you are at the time that you are vulnerable to having an affair. You're not feeling good about your marriage. You might feel lonely, lost, confused, hopeless, not desired or desirable, right? And so you are not emotionally at your best. And so, because we attract at a similar level of emotional health, and that might be news to some of you, but it's true, we attract people that are at a similar level of emotional health as to where we are at any given time, right?

So someone who is incredibly emotionally immature, if they came together with someone who had done a lot of personal growth work and had a really mature way of engaging inside of a relationship, would be like oil and water. They wouldn't last 28 minutes together. They probably wouldn't make it past the first date because there's just not that chemistry. There's not that attraction of like attracts like, right? And so we attracted a similar level.

So when you are at your worst emotionally, you're not attracting the best. What you're doing is you're attracting someone else who is also very broken, lost, confused in their lives emotionally, is what I'm referring to, right? And so for a while that can feel like resonance between the two of you. It's how two married people, both in struggling marriages, can come together. They find resonance with each other because they share their stories about what's happening in their marriage and how it makes them feel. And the other person says, yeah, me too.

And so that can feel very validating, right? To have someone else understand and validate how you are feeling. And it'll help you feel like you're not so alone. But my friends, two unhealthy people do not create a healthy relationship. They create an unhealthy relationship. And that's a big piece of this.

The second big piece is that most of the time people don't like to get introspective. They don't want to look at themselves. Now think about why that is - because sitting in the truth of "How did I contribute to the creation of where this relationship is today, where my marriage is today?" - most people don't actually wanna look at that. 'Cause that's hard work. That's heavy lifting. You've gotta own some things about yourself. It's so much easier to blame someone else. Blame feels better than sadness or despair. So we reach for blame. That doesn't make you a bad person, okay? I'm just saying we reach for blame.

So if my partner is the problem, he's the problem. Get rid of him. Problem solved, right? That's what we think. And that's how so many divorces end up; that's the story they tell about their divorce is that there was something that was missing or there was something that he did or didn't do or whatever. But it's somebody else's fault at least, primarily, right?

And so when we don't do any of that personal growth work to say, "how did I contribute to this?" 'Cause it always takes two, I don't care if it's 90% someone else's fault and 10% your fault, there is still a role that you played, right? Even if your partner was super controlling, you are willing to be controlled. So you had a role in the creation of this experience, but most people don't wanna look at that.

And so then what do they do? They go out, and they recreate the exact same dysfunctional patterns in another relationship with somebody new, with their own patterns that they're bringing to the table. Because, my friends, we bring all of ourselves, every single experience we've ever had, we bring into our most intimate relationship, and it plays out there more than anywhere else, right? So the first reason why these relationships often don't work is because the place from which you attracted them was not your emotional healthiest.

And then the second is because there wasn't any self-discovery to help you understand your role in the creation of the experience so that you could become conscious to it and interrupt that pattern so that you could create something that looks and feels very different than what you've created historically.

Now, I have lots of clients who, their affair partners and them, they actually have worked out. But as you can imagine, we've done a lot of personal growth work and a lot of work around relationships. And sometimes when you do that work, you will outgrow that person that you attracted from your emotionally unhealthy place. And that's kind of what Hannah's experiencing, right? She's like, "I thought that this was going to be one thing, but now that I'm actually almost able to be available to be in a real relationship with the person who is my affair partner, now this no longer works, and we're hurting each other a lot, and it's causing us both a lot of pain."

And one of the reasons for that, I suspect, is because she's been willing to change some of her habits and change some of her patterns, and to see the unhealth in her own self so that she can grow beyond it. That doesn't mean her affair partner has done that. And so now what used to be a great fit now no longer feels like a fit.

Now the last thing I wanna share with you, and I'll share this and tell you, most people who are involved in an affair can't really hear me when I say this. Maybe a year or two after the marriage ends or the affair ends or whatever, things change when you're outside of that honeymoon period, you might be able to remember this and hear it. And I fully realize that not everyone can hear this right now because almost everyone believes that they're a fair partner.

There's something special there. There's something that defies all of those numbers, right? That they're gonna be part of the five percent and they're gonna be part of the twenty-five percent that stays married of that five percent, right? They're like, "Oh, but this is my soulmate. This is my twin flame." We use language like that. And when we do that, we make it very, very special. And it helps us become kind of blind to the pitfalls that have led to these numbers playing out.

And here's what I wanna tell you. If you decide to pursue a relationship with your affair partner where you are emotionally available, where he or she is emotionally available, it will change one hundred percent of the time. I don't say that often. One hundred percent of the time the nature of how the two of you engage will change, because now it's not this thing that's being hidden. Now you have to share all of yourself, you as a mother, you as a woman, you as a wife, not just you as a woman, right? In an affair, you're you as a woman, but now you're bringing you as a mother, you as a partner, you as a wife to that relationship.

Now you're having to manage and do life together. You know there's going to be challenges; there's going to be new opportunities for the two of you to grow together or to navigate some really difficult stuff together that you haven't had to navigate before. So no matter how wonderful the relationship is, it will change. It might get better. I'm not suggesting that all change equals negative. It might get better, it might grow deeper, it might grow wider, it might be more inclusive. I don't know how it's going to change, but I know for sure that when one or both of you is not emotionally available, and then one or both of you - let's just say both of you are emotionally available and you try to enter into relationship from that perspective - it will be different. And that's okay.

Right? So here's what I want you to think about. I told you that I have some clients who are now married to the person who was their affair partner. I'm thinking of a few of them right now. And to be honest, they're some of the happiest couples I've ever seen. So it can happen, it just doesn't happen all the time. And it doesn't happen without some deliberate intentional effort, right?

And many times, even when a woman decides that she's going to walk through divorce, and she's going to pursue a relationship with her "number three" (that's what we call affair partners in my membership group) - when she wants to pursue a relationship with her affair partner, sometimes it just doesn't work out because what she thought it was isn't really what it is on the other side of it. And that's okay too.

Here's what I want you to realize. You have one decision to make right now. First, you have to understand what it is that you really want to feel and experience in your most intimate relationship. You've got to know that. And it's got to come from within you, not this outside-in perspective. Like, "Oh, let's see what he's offering. Does that check all my boxes? What does he offer? Does that check all my boxes?" That's all about looking to other people to be what you need them to be, so you get to feel the way you want to feel. I want you to know how you want to feel in your most intimate relationship. Then your question to answer, and the only question to answer right now is, can I have that? Can I create that in my current relationship in my marriage?

If the answer is yes, lovely, let's explore that. Let's pursue that. If the answer is no, then you can end that relationship knowing that it could never ultimately be what you wanted it to be. And then you can pursue this relationship with your affair partner, but you don't actually know what it's going to be, right? So let's call him B. He's option B.

B may work out, it might feel great, it might meet all of the things that help you to feel the way that you want to feel. And it might not, but it doesn't end at option B. There are not just two men on the planet or two women on the planet from which to choose. There are billions, right? So there's option C, D, E, F, G, Z, whatever. So your first question is, can I have what I want to feel in my current relationship? Yes or no? And if no, then I can go explore this other relationship and see what that's going to be. Because even though you think you don't actually know what that's going to be until you ultimately try.

All right? I hope that that has given you something to really think about, and I hope it's been helpful for you. Until next week, take really good care.

If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth and Clarity session with a member of my team. On the call, we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and me to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage.

Go to clarityformymarriage.com to fill out an application now. That's clarityformymarriage.com.


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