By Somali K Chakrabarti
Going a little offbeat from the usual kind of posts on this blog on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, when the idea of Love pervades the atmosphere and fills up most of the heart space, I present here a topic, the occurrence of which may not be as infrequent as we may think/want it to be.
This guest post is written by Sarbani Chowdhury, a Clinical Psychologist with the Indian Air Force. Sarbani draws from her experience of counselling couples who have been involved in relationships outside their marriage, and shares her observation on why people sometimes seek love outside their marriage.
Read on what Sarbani has to say…
Extramarital affairs are nothing new in human society. Despite all the social disapproval and taboos, one out of every seven marriages face this. As a therapist, I have come across a large percentage of my clients, who are involved in extramarital affairs. It urged me to explore how affairs get started, what goes on in married people’s lives that lead them to have an affair. Clients, both from civil corporate society and military organisations were interviewed.
Surprisingly, those who are or have been in affairs expressed that it helped them to know their self-worth better and gave them an increased sense of self–esteem and confidence because of the validation the person received from his/her lover. It brought out many hidden qualities in them which were never expressed in their relationship with their spouse. They re-experienced the excitement and stimulation in their lives, which had gradually vanished from their marriage.
Where does the feeling of euphoria disappear which all of us experience during initial years of our courtship or marriage? Clinically, when in love, our brains are flooded with a chemical – Phenyl ethylamine (PEA), which lasts from six months to two years of the relationship. This produces the emotional connect. Marriage loses its freshness overtime and couples stop making that extra effort of being loving and caring and making those small gestures which makes the other person feel special. It is the responsibility of both the partners in a marriage to keep the essence of romance alive and let the other person know their special place in their partner’s life.
It is mandatory to keep doing something out of the ordinary to make the relationship lively and interesting.
Remember, during courtship period how one makes a special effort to look his/her best? Many cases of extra marital affairs begin when one of the spouses neglects his or her physical appearance and hygiene or becomes out of shape, may be due to pressure of work in office, coupled with running a household and raising children.
60% of couples agreed that they invested very little time and creativity to rekindle the romance with their spouses. Loneliness was prevalent in their marriages even when they were living under the same roof. Their marriage was devoid of any emotional connection. A great marriage is not something that just happens, it is something that has to be created. It was found that married couples did not experience enough communication or affection in their lives and had fallen into the destructive communication patterns, blaming the partner and feeling frustrated. Feeling distant and alienated from each other, they looked for support and affection elsewhere.
When one of the spouses goes through some kind of crisis, may be at work or in personal life, and he/she gets the required warmth, affection, empathy from a colleague or a neighbour in the backdrop of a busy or disinterested spouse, it often fuels a friendship which eventually leads to an affair.
80% of the couples agreed to have forgotten that a simple touch has great power. A simple hug, holding hands while talking, a kiss gives a boost to the bonding chemical in the brain.
It is very common for spouses to take each other for granted. It gets to the point where people peripheral to marriage seem more concerned and ironically they are generously appreciated.
Things can go awry between married couples. Some years after marriage they start taking each other for granted and don’t hesitate in saying hurtful things without gauging the pain it inflicts on the partner. Too often, couples show more respect to a stranger than to their partner. In marriages that are dominated by anger of either spouse, the first thing that vanishes is intimacy, for most of the energies of the spouse at the receiving end of the anger outbursts get consumed in what is known as ‘avoidance behaviour’.
The simple word “SORRY” can heal many wounds if correctly timed. But what is it that keeps us from apologising? A big ego, keeping “score”, the fear of looking weak, fear of giving in. Yes, we all have these feelings, but why let self-inflicted feelings keep us from doing the right thing and spoil the relationship? Not only it is important to say I am sorry but it’s important to say it from the heart. A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers!
When was the last time you said, “I Love You” to your spouse? Why are these three magical words extensively used only during courtship and affairs, but not after marriage? To love someone is wonderful and to tell them that, is amongst the greatest gifts one can give. People think love is an emotion but in reality it is an activity which is why it is very important to say “I Love You” to the people you care about.
In the age of high-speed internet, WhatsApp and crash diets, it’s quite common for people to want to “microwave” their marriage to renewal.
When it comes to relationships, there are no short cuts. It takes time. Ironically, the search for a quick answer to your marital situation delays the process you will eventually have to go through.
When it comes to your marriage, slow is fast and fast is slow. In other words, if you try to go too fast and skip-over the necessary steps, you’ll slow down the whole process. But if you go slow and rebuild your marriage one step at a time…that’s the fastest way!
What do you think the reasons could be?
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