Serial Marital Affairs – What is My End Game?

Marriage

There is a strangely high incidence of suicide within the comedian population. Just in recent years, there were the high profile suicides of Andrew Koenig and Robin Williams.

These happy, sarcastic, satyr and gifted artists often struggle with depression and self-reproach.

What is happening?

A strong theory held by many is that these characters have learned “funny” is the way to being pleasing, admired and therefore feeling better about themselves. Sadly, this is a hollow shell that leaves them performing while neglecting their inner experience.

Why am I talking about comedians? Because those in serial affairs are the same—they are just trying to be “funny.” No, they don’t think affairs are a joke, rather they are using sexual engagement where comedian’s use funny.

For the “affair junkie,” sexual engagement is for relief and self-affirmation. There are of course many roads to serial affairs, but the end game?

Simply, relief and feeling better! But this is as flawed as “funny.” It may not end in suicide, but it will end in relational distress and emotional pain, not least because serial affairs can mask, or become a sexual addiction.

Hope for Relief and Sustenance

Now, we all hope for relief and sustenance; no one enjoys feeling pain. Jobs, marriages, kids, finances and much more produce a huge amount of emotional pressure.

We develop different approaches to managing our experience, including repressing it, wearing it on our sleeves, putting the problem onto others, and more (1). We learn these coping methods in childhood and continue them on.

Couple struggling with sexual addictionMany of us learn that “bad” feelings are unwanted or unacceptable and choose to put them away and medicate them—just like comedians with “funny.”

When distress is high and normal life becomes boring, sexual affairs offer a seemingly perfect escape (if you just don’t get caught!).

The rush and excitement of affairs can become intoxicating and lead to sexual addiction. Serial affairs promise an end game of “having your cake and eating it.” In reality, the end game is pain and distress.

Intimacy Struggles

Intimacy isn’t primarily constituted in physical contact; it includes personal knowledge, relational connection, time, proximity, other-focused care, and more.

When sex becomes the focus for intimacy and emotional relief, then relational disharmony will follow. Sex will be used to cover experiences rather than dealing with them.

If this is with multiple affair partners, then relational depth and honesty are not present, or the affair partner is used as an emotional “dump” that you can leave before having to deal with the consequences of the emotions shared.

One hope of the serial affair is that you can hide your actions as well as your emotions. Simply, you medicate and run, rather than connect and invest. Marriages cannot thrive or grow in this context (2).

Betrayal and Disharmony

The impact of multiple betrayals is devastating to a spouse when it is discovered. (Even if it isn’t discovered the impact as mentioned above will be felt).

Relational rifts will grow, and distrust will explode all over the marriage relationship making it difficult to sustain a meaningful connection. Families in recovery usually pay a heavy price to rebuild trust. Addiction rehab is normally warranted for this to occur and is a costly endeavor.

While relationships suffer, the person involved in serial affairs will also feel a growing disharmony as their version of “funny” starts to prove flawed.

As secretive behaviors, time spent and relational casualties all mount you will likely feel more isolated and emotionally impoverished than before.

Communication

Learning to communicate emotions, needs, vulnerabilities, desires, and requests is an essential part of addiction rehab and building a life that will enable you to stop being “funny.”

Only when we contend with and deal with our emotional experiences can we build a truly satisfying sexual relationship because it requires this bigger context. If you are in a relationship where you have hurt others, you need to start with repentance and learn to communicate your experience.

Recovery and Rehab

Recovery from serial affairs (which is likely a form of sexual addiction) often includes a fairly intensive addiction rehab. Sex addiction treatment can include inpatient or outpatient counseling that will help you deal with denial, emotions, coping strategies and more.

WomanFamilies in recovery will need support too. Spouses should find others who understand the pain of living with someone who has committed multiple betrayals and who can guide them in establishing boundaries and new family rules.

If you are starting to suspect you have been using “funny” in some way, I encourage you to continue exploring the motivations behind your choices. This examination will be difficult, illuminating and relieving in time. Find a better end game—one where you are truly connected, known, loved and enjoyed.


Paul LoosemoreAbout the author: Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC, author of “21 Movements Towards Life” – The step-by-step guide to recovering from sexual addiction or pornography. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—both individuals and couples. He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com where you can find his guide, or contact him.


References:

[1] Viscott, D. S. (1996). Emotional resilience: simple truths for dealing with the unfinished business of your past. Harmony.
[2] Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2012). What makes love last?: how to build trust and avoid betrayal. New York: Simon & Schuster.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 14, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 14, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com