It started as a short post on Twitter. It picked up steam when it automatically appeared on my Facebook account. I wrote, "As I work with marriages hurt by an affair, by far there are more where the wife was unfaithful. I think I know why. Love to hear your ideas."

The ideas came. Lots of them. Allow me to share a couple.

From Guys...

  • "Men are not in tune to the emotional needs of a woman. Plus, a lot of men are working too much to make ends meet. The woman finds an attentive man elsewhere (who is inattentive to his family - dog chasing tail scenario)."
  • "Well, this is coming from a single guy so I may be least qualified to answer but I'll try - maybe it's because guys tend to put their focus on so many other things like career, sports teams, hobbies, etc. and just want their wives to always be there for them when they want them to be there. If the woman isn't getting the emotional and spiritual connection she wants from her husband, maybe she'll look elsewhere, even if it's only in someone who is only going to offer it temporarily. The Devil will capitalize."

From Gals...

  • "Some women get tired of being downgraded, unappreciated, abused, having their children neglected or in fear…no I'm not having an affair. There is no way…no way I would ever get married again if I could ever get out of this! I'm also so tired of the extreme selfishness!"
  • "Some straying women are due to the fact that they didn't have a relationship with their own father. The father was present, but he was an abuser and unfaithful to his wife. There is a real connection with a girl growing up without a good role model. There is a void in the young girl's life that can't seem to be filled with just one person…Sad, but so true for so many. Good news is that our Lord can change this flaw and stable, true relationship can be attained. It just takes some effort and a LOT of leaning on God to get you through."

These quotes generally represent the comments received. Note that the guys quoted believe a wife's infidelity roots in being ignored, unfulfilled, and taken for granted. However, the women quoted believe it is not just being ignored, but actually being mistreated that is the root of the problem.

A few misunderstood my abbreviated post to indicate that more wives are unfaithful than husbands. I didn't mean to imply that about the general population; instead, I was saying that in my workshops we see more couples in which the wife has been unfaithful. Maybe more husbands convince their wives to come to the workshop than wives are able to convince their husbands. Maybe wives are more likely to divorce the unfaithful husband without trying to save the marriage. We do not know why we have more couples in that situation, but we do have insight into why the straying wives that attend were unfaithful.

Three Kinds of Affairs

I divide extramarital affairs into three categories; short-lived affairs, allowed affairs, and relationship affairs.

Short-lived affairs include affairs of opportunity (wrong place, wrong time), experimentation or pleasure seeking ("surely God will forgive me if I just try this once to see what it's like"), self-esteem (wanting validation either as a person or as a lover), revenge (payback), acting out (rebellion), sexual addiction, and more. Wives in short-lived affairs seldom develop a feeling of love for their affair partner, and usually want to continue their marriages. In some types of short-lived affairs, there will be a number of partners over time.

Allowed affairs are those in which the husband and wife mutually agree to and actively practice liaisons outside their marriage. (Approximately 2% of America's 55 million marriages.)

Relationship affairs begin as friendships, usually innocent, and grow into deep emotional connections. This type affair is the most difficult to help a marriage overcome. As in short-live affairs the offended spouse feels rejected and betrayed, but the added dimension of the offending spouse being "in love" with the paramour drives the pain much deeper and makes the affair even more damaging.