4 Sneaky Thoughts That Often Lead to Infidelity
Marriage is forever. Well, it’s supposed to be forever, but forever is a long time, isn’t it? That’s why some married couples often struggle with staying monogamous over all of those years. Because how do you maintain a relationship for that long? And how do you navigate all of the internal and external forces that test the limits of your monogamy?
That makes it sound like your marriage is surrounded by predatory animals, looking to attack any weak spot in your bond, but the reality is so much more mundane.
When you share your life with someone for a long time, you inevitably begin to take your relationship for granted in certain ways. Your mind gets curious. You explore possibilities in your head. You read about polyamory and open relationships and think, "Maybe I should’ve given that a try."
It’s really normal behavior. The key is finding a way to make sure your curiosity remains an intellectual pursuit and doesn’t actually lead to straying outside of your marriage.
Because, when you’re married, the universe loves to test your monogamy in ways you wouldn’t expect.
There are many things that can break up a marriage, but here are four of the biggest issues that can truly challenge the boundaries of your monogamous relationship. They're the insidious little mind-worms you need to be looking out for if you want your marriage to last.
#1. Your ego.
When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, your partner gradually learns how to press all of your buttons. They know what makes you angry, what makes you sad, and what makes you completely doubt your own self-worth.
Thus, if you’ve gone through a recent rough patch in your marriage — marked by a lot of fighting — you probably feel pretty low.
It’s in this emotional state when so many married people decide to cheat on their spouses. Arguing has bruised their egos to such a degree that their egos want a little payback. They think, "Hey, do you know what will prove that I’m 'all that'? Finding someone else that wants me."
The thought process is understandable, but the ultimate result is almost always destructive.
Too many people mythologize marriage. They treat it like some magical institution that will fill their life with meaning and contentment. And then those people get married and they realize something shocking: It doesn’t change your life.
It can feel exactly the same as any other long-term relationship where you live together, albeit with a longer honeymoon phase in the beginning.
Because of this, people enter into marriage thinking that it’s going to be a grand adventure and instead they find a mundane world of laundry, Taco Tuesdays, and lots and lots of Netflix. This disillusionment often feels a lot like boredom, and people go outside of their marriage chasing that contented feeling that marriage was supposed to provide.
The key to combating that sense of boredom is having realistic expectations about what marriage really is.
It’s a relationship, plain and simple. And it’s going to have as much excitement and meaning as you bring into it, so don’t blame your marriage for being boring. The fault lies with you.
#3. "I deserve this."
Those are three destructive little words, right? "I deserve this." When people are feeling low in their marriage, maybe a little neglected, they love to pull out those words like they’re some kind of empowerment mantra.
"My spouse isn’t giving me everything I want, so I need to go out and find it elsewhere, because I deserve this!"
The problem is, often times, saying "I deserve this!" is just dressing up narcissism as self-improvement. It’s trying to make yourself sound like Julia Roberts in "Eat, Pray, Love," when you’re really acting like Veruca Salt from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
If your marriage isn’t fulfilling, then that’s something you need to address with your spouse. But if you’re using "I deserve this!" as a way to justify sneaking around outside of your marriage, that’s not a noble quest for personal meaning. That’s just selfishness, pure and simple.
#4. Body issues.
As we age, our bodies fall apart, so it’s easy to feel insecure about your muffin-top or your ever-growing bald-spot. And the problem is, when you’re married to someone, you’re so used to seeing them every day that you can forget to regularly affirm that you still find them attractive. Meanwhile, your partner is secretly worried that no one will ever find them desirable again now that they’re noticed their new wrinkles or leg veins.
This becomes a problem when your spouse encounters someone outside of the marriage who immediately opens with physical compliments. "You’re so handsome." "I can’t believe how sexy you are." "You look fantastic today."
Those quick affirmations can have a huge impact on your spouse, and they might even start thinking that this shiny new person is the last person who will ever find them desirable ever again.
Of course that’s silly, but it speaks to how important it is to be aware of body issues — both your own and your spouse’s — in a marriage.
If you’re feeling particularly unattractive, you need to talk to your partner about it. If you get a sense that your spouse isn’t feeling particularly sexy, offer them a spontaneous compliment. Let them know that you still see them as an attractive person. (And, if you don’t, maybe your marriage has more issues than you thought.)
Developing a long-term marriage is hard work. No one ever said that monogamy was easy, but these four challenges really do speak to some of the biggest threats to a healthy marriage. And the threats aren’t sexy homewreckers or neighborhood lotharios; they’re very normal, internal feelings of doubt, selfishness and insecurity.
If you’re truly committed to being monogamous with your partner, you need to open a dialogue about these issues and make sure they don’t interfere with the marriage that you took so long to build together. Because yes, sometimes you're gonna see someone hot at the gym, or your ex is going to come back into your life with those puppy dog eyes.
And you need to be able to handle it. No matter what.