Dr. West





Adultery -

Facts, Fears, Forgiveness

By the Irreverent Reverend

" We put so much emphasis on the concerns and so-called "sins" of our ephemeral bodies that we neglect. what matters more --  love and our abiding spiritual natures."


       Maybe it's my imagination but in my counseling it seems that affairs and their consequences are popping up more and more.

I originally thought that this was because people are talking more openly about this issue, but then I found that statistics on adultery support an ever-increasing number of affairs, especially among women.

I think there are three main reasons.

  • In this era of effective birth control and safe sex the traditional religious rationales against premarital and extramarital sex are making less sense to people.*

  • The TV and film media typically portray pre-marital and even extra-marital sexual liaisons as common.
  • Modern urban men and women typically work close to each other  — often for long hours, day after day. In the process they can get to know each other — sometimes better than their spouses.

I've found that there are two typical responses to the discovery of an affair within a committed relationship.

       At one extreme there are those who immediately and without any real attempt to discuss and work through the issue, respond in anger by contacting a lawyer and seeking a divorce.

Generally, everyone comes out worse off except the divorce lawyers.

       In the second category there are those who "count to 10" (at least) and try to see if they can work through the issue.

This may involve marriage counseling, or it may involve just sitting down and frankly trying to talk things through.

The latter often results in some major discoveries about the relationship, including in many cases, how things should be changed.

I've found that there is a world of difference in the consequences of these two approaches.

The first response often continues to plague the offended person and poisoning subsequent relationships.

In the latter case I've even seen people to go on to live a lonely and bitter life, never feeling they can risk love again.

" There are some powerful testimonies on this site.  One is 'The Biggest Mistake in My Life.' "


Our Fears

      Setting aside the issues of jealousy -- and I guess we know the corrupting elements of that -- I've found that what really bothers people about this issue is fear of abandonment.

We seemingly invest "everything" in a person, and thus we are faced -- or at least we think we are faced -- with the prospect of losing "everything."


No one should be dependent on anyone else for their happiness or well-being.  If nothing else, that gives one person far too much power.

Can we be genuinely happy with ourselves if our happiness depends on someone else -- or are we actually living with a certain amount of repressed fear?

If you think you can't live without someone else, it's time to do a serious personal inventory.

For any number of reasons that "special person" may disappear from your life some day and you will be forced to go on without them. The more adequate you feel about yourself the better you will be able to handle this.

I've seen people suicidal when they thought they couldn't go on without someone else.

I've also seen people grieve, as would be expected, and then with a certain amount of resolve, pull their lives together, and go on.

" Life (or, if you prefer, God) has a way of putting tests in our lives to make us stronger and to motivate us to make needed changes. "

       And then there are the relationships where one spouse is "cheating" unbeknownst to the other (Yes, I hear the rumors too.) and things continue, maybe for years, as if nothing is wrong.

It's only if or when this is discovered that things blow up.

So, generally, it is not the affair that causes the problem, but knowing about it...

...and thereafter assuming they have to respond, and possibly even "save face" in  some way according to the beliefs that have been handed down about this "unforgivable sin." 

The problem is we are largely ego-centered, emotional beings.

" Relationships should be held together by love and not simply be dependent on sexual exclusivity."

Dr. Cherry Lee


       Two files in this site should help with all this: The Sin of Adultery, which defines adultery in a way that will surprise many people, and Dealing With Adultery, which provides advice on working through adultery.

* We find it interesting that many preachers decline invitations to be in TV debates on this topic. Modern data on sex and cohabitation would condemn a large part of their congregations.


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