Having an affair is one of the worst decisions you can make for yourself – and your family.
You’ve been unhappy in your marriage for a while now. It seems that things will never change – that your spouse will continue ignoring your needs.
You’re tired of feeling stuck, ignored and unloved in your marriage. So when someone else shows you the attention you’ve been craving you’re naturally drawn to them.
But before you continue down the slippery slope you’re precariously perched upon, pause and examine why having an affair is a bad idea.
Affairs hurt everyone – not just your spouse. They hurt you, your lover, their spouse, your children, their children, your family, their family, your friends and their friends. That’s a lot of people.
And before you start wondering too much about what an affair is, know that anytime you feel the need to keep a relationship secret from your spouse – regardless of whether you’re having sex with this other person or not – you’re having an affair.
Just what makes infidelity so bad?
These are the biggest reasons why an affair is a bad idea:
- You’re choosing to live in fear of changing your marriage.
If everything was great in your marriage, you wouldn’t be tempted to deepen your relationship with this other person. Don’t let your fears of what could happen if you talk to your spouse about what isn’t working for you cloud your judgment.
Find out if your marriage can be improved enough to bring you the happiness it did when you first married. You owe it to yourself, your spouse and your children to put in the effort to either fix your marriage or respectfully decide to end it.
(In case you’re worried about losing this new person, they’ll gladly allow you the time you need to deal with your marriage – that is if they truly love you. And if they aren’t willing to give you the time you need, you know that what they feel for you isn’t love.)
- An affair isn’t about love, it’s about betrayal.
You decided to have a monogamous relationship with your spouse. Anything you do to undermine that relationship is a betrayal – no matter how much love you might feel for and from the other person.
- Lying doesn’t become you.
Infidelity requires secrecy and covering your tracks by lying. Despite the thrill you might have at first, the guilt, shame and worry will consume more and more of your thoughts.
As you slide deeper into these thoughts, you start to feel poorly about yourself because you’re living a double life. In one life you feel alive, valued and loved. In the other, you feel the weight of the deception, your self-esteem plummets, and you feel more and more miserable.
- You’re increasing you chances of getting an STD.
The more sexual partners you have, the greater the chances are that you’re impacting your longevity – not just because of potentially contracting STD’s but because of other physical and emotional health issues.
- It could be illegal.
Yes, there are some states and countries where cheating isn’t just a bad idea – it’s illegal. If you’re helping someone cheat, then you could be breaking the law and opening yourself up to a law suit if not something worse.
- You’ll regret it when/if your spouse finds out.
Getting caught having an affair isn’t a pleasant experience. You will feel humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed when you’re exposed.
If you’re lucky, you and your spouse will be able to work through things and come to a reasonable decision about how to move forward either by saving your marriage or by divorcing.
If you’re not lucky, things will get ugly quickly and stay that way.
- Your spouse will have trust issues – maybe for the rest of their life.
When your spouse discovers that you’ve been lying to them and that they’ve believed your lies. They start to question reality and wonder how they’ll ever know if someone is being truthful with them or not.
Their confusion and fear of trusting someone in an intimate relationship will cause them all kinds of pain whether your marriage can be salvaged or not. If they don’t receive the help they need to work through their trust issues, they could struggle with them for the rest of their life.
- You’ll be at risk for the judgment of others when they find out.
People aren’t always kind when they discover one of their friends or family members has cheated on their spouse. In the worst-case scenario, your friends and family will give you a bazillion reasons why you never should have cheated in the first place and then ostracize you. In the best case, they’ll just laugh at you behind your back.
- Your children will be hurt.
No matter how you look at it, having an affair is setting a bad example for your children. When they find out they’ll feel humiliated, confused, insecure, sad and angry that you could ruin their family. As a result you’ll lose moral authority with your kids.
- Discovery of your affair could lead to divorce.
Cheating doesn’t destroy all marriages. But for the ones it does, these divorces are generally more combative, bitter and drawn-out because of the emotions at play when the couple tries to negotiate a settlement.
- You’ll have to explain your affair to anyone you seriously date in the future.
One of the most common questions people ask when they’re dating someone who’s been divorced is “Why did your marriage end?” You’ll have to come up with an answer if you care about the person asking the question.
If your infidelity ended your marriage, you could choose to lie for the rest of your life. All this does is prolong the sense of guilt, humiliation and shame of your affair.
On the other hand, you could choose to tell the truth. And this will naturally cause the person you’re dating to wonder if you’re worthy of their trust or not.
Neither option is very appealing.
You might not agree with all 11 reasons why an affair is a bad idea, but you’ve probably found a few that make sense to you. Hopefully, the one that makes the most sense is the first one – your marriage isn’t fulfilling and you’re choosing to live in misery and fear of changing it.
The good thing about being tempted to cheat on your spouse is that it gives you the opportunity to address the elephant in the room – your marriage either needs to be fixed or dissolved. Instead of immediately succumbing to the attraction you feel for the other person, screw up your courage and address your marriage first.
It will work out better for everyone involved if you do – especially you because you’ll be able to move forward with your life and have your needs met without the regret of adultery.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who want support in dealing with the pain of affairs and miserable marriages. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.