Of course, every affair is different, as every person is different. However, under close scrutiny, there are elements common to most. Following is a cursory list of observations which the author has made. Every reader will probably wish to add at least one feature to each phase…
IN THE BEGINNING
* Each party entering an affair is missing one or more important ingredients in the present marriage. These elements were probably present at the beginning of the union, but since have disappeared. Family duties, exhaustion from work commitments, or misplaced priorities have interrupted the couple’s initial happiness. One spouse despairs of ever regaining the missing elements with the present partner.
* The love and dedication once felt toward the present spouse has severely diminished or has disappeared entirely.
* Meaningful communication has broken down. It has been replaced by hostile silence or bitter arguments.
* Small matters, which should be easily solved through negotiation and compromise, become major issues because of basic animosity between the couple.
* A third party enters the picture. He or she offers sympathy, understanding, compassion and diversion to the unhappy, discontented spouse.
* If there is a definite mutual attraction, the two will seek to spend more and more time together. If nothing happens to interrupt the natural sequence of events, it is only a matter of time before a full-blown affair erupts.
This phase is often short. People today travel widely both in both their own places of residence and around the globe. Someone who knows someone the spouse knows will see the couple together and rumor mills will begin to grind. News will soon get back to the offended partner.
* Meanwhile, the “in love” couple will try to be together for increasing amounts of time. Those who are not yet fully committed to ending their marriages may arrange weekends away, inventing business trips, training seminars or three-day meetings which they must attend alone.
* Some immature people continue in this mode of living for years. They really don’t want to settle down. They enjoy the living on the edge. They find risk-taking invigorating. If the spouse doesn’t notice, or perhaps is just grateful for a few days alone, the philandering partner may keep going indefinitely, until he or she runs out of money or cooperative partners.
* However, normal participants in an affair will make plans to end their present marriages so they can be together permanently. Depending on the lengths of the marriages, the number of children, and the material assets to be divided. the divorces may take some time to become final.
* Some wait out the interval patiently, wishing to begin their new life honorably with a wedding, surrounded by good wishes of family and friends. Others throw caution to the winds and take up residence with the new flame immediately.
* In many cases, the first marriage ends, and a new one begins. It is to be hoped that both partners, being more mature, will choose a life partner more wisely than they did the first time.
* In the case of those who have participated in serial affairs, their spouse may finally smarten up and initiate divorce proceedings against them. Alternately, a health crisis may precipitate a change of habits. A philandering lifestyle is hard on one’s physical and emotional well-being.
* Those who opt to immediately move in with their intended, may find that, without the solemnity and commitment of a formal wedding ceremony, they find themselves back on the “unattached” list before the previous divorce is even finalized- not a happy outcome!
Affairs are never to be encouraged or idealized. A more noble solution to a troubled union is couples’ therapy. Often marriage counselling and a determination on the part of both partners to try again, can repair the most shattered of unions.
Divorces are among the saddest of all events, both for the parties involved and for family members. Usually they occur between people who should never have been together in the first place.
When two people who are young, inexperienced, and have little in common, wed without due reflection, they will steadily grown farther and farther apart. In true marriages, couples always grow closer together as years pass.
Happy are they who find this type of union the first time around. For these fortunate individuals, illicit affairs will never become an issue.