My view on infidelity was questioned when I read an article by The Independent titled “Cheating can make your marriage STRONGER”.
I thought, “What could this possibly say?” What I found intrigued me. Hidden in the article was a reference to Ms Esther Perel, a psychotherapist who works exclusively with married couples touched by infidelity.
Relationships can be hard. After long periods of marriage or commitment, relationships may become monotonous, drawn out. Life can feel stilted, unchanged. Children may become demanding, draining. Time gets lost, moments of spontaneity few and far between, sexual desire limited or emotional connection lost. In those moments, people may turn to others to fill that space and in doing so turn away from their partner.
Ms Perel in her Ted Talk, Why Happy Couples Cheat, explains her understanding of relationships and what ultimately leads some people to cheat. She talks about what infidelity does to a relationship and how sometimes, out of the ashes of such an act, a relationship can be redefined and a love reawakened.
What I find so fascinating about Ms Perel’s experience with infidelity is the “shame” people feel when they stay in a marriage with a cheating partner. What an interesting notion because of course, you wouldn’t stay with an unfaithful partner, right? In times gone by, it was shameful to get a divorce. Now it seems the opposite is true.
Ms Perel says that the majority of couples she sees stay together after infidelity. Sometimes, through conversation and an understanding of that person’s motivations, couples are able to reawaken their fire or love for one another. They are able to have a conversation about their desires, fears, wants and needs that they may not have had for some time. Some couples survive it and turn it into an experience but others can’t push through.
Either way, there is no shame in how you choose to live your life.
Love and marriage should not be taken lightly, yet neither is the required devotion and fervour to mend a broken relationship,
If one thing is clear, it’s that infidelity is not black and white, and it plays a different role in every relationship based on how you choose to address it.