Jul 172018 8 Responses

The Number One Cause of Adultery


Most affairs happen because one or both people ignore the long-term consequences of their decisions and fixate solely on the immediate impact or feeling. They don’t think of about five years from now or five months from now or even five days from now. They simply consider the immediate need, feeling, desire, pain, and the possibility to have something which makes them feel alive.

Adultery is ultimately a failure of vision. Rather than rationally understanding the consequences of our decisions over an extended period of time, we think only in the immediate. We downplay future ramifications, ignore natural consequences, and deny the direction present decisions are sending us. By focusing solely on the immediate feeling, need, or desire, adultery becomes a logical choice.

When considered over an extended period of time, no rational person would choose to cheat. The price is too high. The consequences are too steep. There are a thousand other options of how to handle frustration in marriage, personal needs going unmet, or experiencing sexual satisfaction other than breaking your vows, violating trust, injuring your family, using another person, and having an affair.

See Adultery for What It Is

Make no mistake about the true nature of adultery. (See: You Will Have an Affair If…)

It’s morally wrong. While society may have no problem with adultery, it is an affront to God. He designed sex and marriage. Adultery violates both designs. Refusal to use God’s creation within His intended purpose is doubly costly. First, it creates a division between us and God because of our rebellion. Second, it brings negative consequences which naturally flow from disobedience. God’s moral law is created for our good. His design is in our best interest. When we choose our own way, we are choosing what is not in our best interest. Negative consequences follow.

It’s selfish. On many (though not all) occasions, the reasons for an affair are understandable. A person is lonely, frustrated, emotionally-needy, etc. But in every case, choosing to inappropriately meet those desires is selfish. It’s deciding to negatively impact others for personal pleasure and gain. While it’s acceptable to find a healthy way to get our needs met, it is never appropriate to injure others in order to help ourselves.

It’s unloving toward others. The damage adultery does to others just can’t be diminished. While a person would rarely intentionally inject a great amount of pain on another, adultery does just that. It devastates spouses. It unsettles the family foundation for children creating insecurity. Friendships are strained. Work relationships struggle. Church interactions can become uncertain. There are many reasons why I should never cheat on Jenny, one of them is because of how my poor choices would negatively impact you.

It’s destructive. Adultery is always destructive. Some never get caught and may never fully see all the negative consequences for their sin. Most experience many of the bad ramifications of having an affair. I can’t count the number of times men and women have told me, “If I knew then what I know now, this would have never happened.” While there are some rare stories of people having affairs and a lasting relationship being created between the two individuals, even those experiences contain extremely painful consequences. But most affairs don’t lead to marriage. Instead, they lead to a plethora of bad circumstances.

Be Far-Sighted

While there are many steps to avoid adultery, one of the key steps is to always see things from a long-term perspective. An affair might be fun for a moment. It might bring temporary pleasure. But it is never the wisest way to achieve what you desire. The price is too high and the returns are too little to risk it. (See: Beware of the Crossfit Affair)

Rather than having an affair, a far better approach is to develop a healthy sexual pattern with your spouse. Have the courage to initiate the difficult conversations. Get professional counseling when needed. Do everything in your power to create the best relationship possible with your current spouse. Adultery might be easy in the moment, but it is going to be a disaster in the long-run. Working on your marriage might be difficult in the moment, but it will make the future much easier.

8 Responses to The Number One Cause of Adultery
  1. Mike Reply

    “Rather than having an affair, a far better approach is to develop a healthy sexual pattern with your spouse. Have the courage to initiate the difficult conversations. Get professional counseling when needed. Do everything in your power to create the best relationship possible with your current spouse.”

    And, if you’ve done all that and she still refuses, with varying different excuse each time……?

  2. Carol Reply

    Analogy: if someone asked your spouse, “would you willingly take a drug to make yourself feel great, knowing it had a very high chance of seriously wounding your spouse?” why
    is that answer so obvious, yet the “drug” of an affair is never thought of that way. I often asked my husband why he didn’t think about long term consequences and he said “I don’t know”. And he was probably being truthful. Educational campaigns should begin in high school! Talk about the opiod crisis! The effects of adultery on a family and society are similar in my opinion.

  3. Roger Reply

    My wife disrespected me and left the marriage emotionally and physically 30+ years ago. No counseling helped. The sessions ended with more disdain.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would say counseling still helped in that it gave you confidence that you did all you could.

  4. Carol Reply

    In Feb this year I was shocked to discover my 51yr old husband of 13 yrs had a secret “friendship” with a 35yr old woman from work – for 9 yrs! I found evidence from the last 2.5yrs – flight bookings, hotel room bookings, lunch/coffee dates, wining/dining, lots of drinking/work-parties, photo’s at events, “missing you” texts from him in the early morning hrs, emailed photo’s to her labelled “Us” at midnight. During this friendship she married & has a 3yr old child. I thought I’d solved the mystery of his practically ignoring my existence for most of those 9yrs, of why he’d severed our emotional connection, why he’d lied about so many things, why he didn’t look at me that way anymore. But they both swore there was no sex involved, she denied any “wrong-doing” telling my husband “you know I don’t like you that way, don’t you?” It didn’t add up, I had a nagging feeling I was missing something here – was it all my husband’s doing? Had he chased her all those years hoping one day to get her drunk enough & charm her into bed? It seemed so extreme, must’ve been hard work keeping it such a secret.
    Within a few weeks of breaking them up, he was booking 2 hotel rooms next to each other for another woman from work – had he moved on already to another woman? Surely he’d still feel sad about losing his “long-term girlfriend”. Then I overheard him setting up a fun activity date with yet another woman. All these dates were carried out during work time or week-nights, claimed as work expenses, all using the excuse “work-related”. But wait there’s another shock – I then found a hard-drive of S&M porn. That was it, I snapped, & sent him to his parents to “stay for a month”, so I figure out what was really going on. I read everything I could find on the Internet about infidelity, “emotional” affairs, sex/porn/alcohol addictions. But something was missing. We’re 6 months down the track now, last week I found something called Narcisstic Personality Disorder. Bingo – think my husband fits this description perfectly – no empathy whatsoever; no conscience i.e. “just work-related, a bit of fun” – excuses but never a sincere apology or understanding of my hurt/betrayal/trust; inability to respect me, or be interested in my life, or get fully involved with our kids, it’s all just surface basics, “good morning”, jokes, “night”, a peck on the lips & he’s asleep. He’s a real charmer to everyone else with a brilliant charismatic personality, always hovering around other women & helping them out, he never takes me out, I feel like a maid/nanny, very low on the list of what’s important to him, I probably don’t even register there now.
    I sent him away for just 1 mth – but he hasn’t come back & it’s 3 mths now. I’m stunned, again taken aback – have been to the counsellor 3 times but she doesn’t offer advice, just listens, I really need some advice here, I’m drowning in this explosive situation – am really scared he’ll do more & more nasty stuff to me, he’s already spreading rumours that are completely out-there lies about me. I have no friends he’s alienated me by spreading lies, and I didn’t even know it, now everyone thinks I’m crazy, and I’m scared to say anything to anyone – who’d believe this situation – he denies anything ever happened, I have the evidence but no-one wants to listen to me.
    There are varying opinions about Narcissists, but most seem to say “no contact” is the only way to save yourself, and keep the Narc’ from starting more stories, smokescreens, projections onto their spouse. It does feels very dangerous from my end, he’s suddenly a very nasty/angry man, I’ve never seen this side of him. So I guess this is telling me our “love” was just a lie and a game.
    Any advice you can give me, any tips, basically on anything related to this Disorder would be invaluable. I can’t talk to this man, he’s in denial any of it happened, and says I’m making up things in my head, it’s all fantasy, it was all just work-related… Very frustrating. I think the counsellor believes everything he says, and of course he’ll never admit to anything if he’s a Narc’ as that’s one of their traits – they think they’re superior (especially to their spouse) and don’t want any flaws on their distorted self-image.
    Please help me if you can, everything has been twisted & turned on me! I want & need to protect my heart from any more hurt. Also I want to protect my reputation – I’v been a faithful & loving wife all these years, raising our children, thinking my husband loved me! He’s now suddenly two different people! What do you think I should do? Is there any hope for reconciliation? Or if I let him back will he do worse things to me? Most say there is no changing a Narc’ – and “no contact” is the only way to survive. But we’ve got kids, and he will try to push me into a corner over them… It’s hard to communicate with him because he hangs up on me, or if he turns up here to take the kids he walks out while I’m talking, no respect, no care, etc.

  5. Monique Reply

    I love your articles Kevin, except when it comes to adultery. I understand that you view it differently than I. I’m guessing you’ve never been the victim of it. When you say on many occasions the reason for an affair are understandable, I am flabbergasted. That is like saying when someone assaults their spouse, it’s understandable on many occasions. I would love if you could read some of the articles on the Chump Lady and then we could discuss further. Thanks so much.

  6. Monique Reply

    I love all of your articles so much until we get to adultery. You have a lovely pastoral view of it. I assume you have never been the victim of it. I would really love to discuss this with you further. Would you be able to email me?

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