IF someone was caught having an affair, you’d think they’d make a full confession,” observed Caroline, a relationship counsellor. “You’d think they would know if they wanted to stay or leave. You’d think they’ll be able to explain why they were unfaithful and that if they promised to ‘fight’ for their marriage that their actions would match their words. However, for lots of people recovery is not so straight forward and takes far longer than they would have imagined on discovery day”.
Sadly, we’re living in an age when infidelity has never been easier to commit or harder to deal with. A basic cause is the role of the internet. There are countless websites, and apps that exist solely to facilitate easy sex along with the services of prostitutes. Not to forget the fact that men and women are much more likely to be friends today. This was something that was much rarer 30 years ago. Now the general attitude is that the husband or wife thinks it’s acceptable to stay in touch with a lover when their fling is over. They’re ‘friends’ after all.
Cheating on a wife who is pregnant or has recently given birth is one of the last remaining sexual taboos. But there are good psychological reasons behind such a destructive act. According to Caroline, when men cheat during their partner’s pregnancy or just after she’s given birth, it is a clear signal that they are uncomfortable about becoming a father. Sometimes it triggers a crisis about their own father, especially if they are frightened of becoming like him. It can also lead to feelings of entrapment and claustrophobia. Many men tell me they become frozen with fear by their new responsibilities. ‘How on earth am I going to support all these people?’ they wonder. This can be a huge issue if you hate your job and dream of escaping.
Some men are not tempted to cheat during their wife’s first pregnancy – but the second can up them over the edge. Why? Many men find fatherhood and the reality of child care such a shock that they fear the second baby will only make matters worse – only this time they’ll be pushed further down the list of their wife’s priorities. Sex, already an infrequent event because of the pressures of baby number one, will surely only become even rarer when baby number two arrives.
“It’s a biological fact that young children kill a couple’s sex life”, observes Caroline. “For the first 18 months after a baby is born, all the oxytocin – the bonding hormone – goes into the relationship between mother and child. And let’s not forget, men need sex because it is the only way it is socially acceptable for them to get close to someone. Into this mix, it’s hardly surprising that escapism of a fling is so tempting to many new fathers.
“A word of reassurance, however, couples with children are more likely to survive an affair than those without. Children force us to find a balance between satisfying individual short-term goals and considering others and the greater good.”
One fact that shouldn’t be over-looked is women’s contributory factor to the male misbehaving badly game. “Most ‘expectant’ married men feel their wives ‘leave’ the relationship first. According to Caroline: “This was a shock for the average blamelessly monogamous woman. Lots of women become so wrapped up in their children that they neglect their husband. I’ve lost count of the men who tell me “she was too good of a mother and not a good wife. And so every time someone talks about ‘beautiful’ children, my alarm bells go off because it sounds like the children have been put on centre stage, and not just adored but idolised. Not even the most doting father will be able to cope with being a bit part in his own marriage for long.
“Many men just want to please their partner and so don’t rock the boat – even when they’re unhappy with the attention they receive from their wives.”
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