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Why Affairs Happen

Why Affairs Happen

And what you need to know about prevention and recovery
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As many as 65 percent of men and 55 percent of women will have an extramarital affair by the time they are forty, according to the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. A Christianity Today survey found that 23 percent of the 300 pastors who responded admitted to sexually inappropriate behavior with someone other than their wives while in the ministry.

In Dave Carder's and Duncan Jaenicke's book, Torn Asunder: Recovering from Extramarital Affairs (Moody), Carder notes that adultery and divorce rates in the evangelical population are nearly the same as the general population in the United States. Being a Christian does not lessen our chances of having an affair. Through his counseling experiences, however, Carder has found several "shared threads" woven throughout the experiences of married couples who become tangled in an affair. These patterns can serve as warning signals that married couples should be alert to.

Forewarned is forearmed. So Marriage Partnership talked to Dave Carder about what to do whether you are contemplating an affair, have experienced an affair, or even if you never expect an affair to impact your own marriage.

What types of affairs do Christians tend to fall into?

All types. There's the "Class One" affair, which is the one-night stand. Then, there is the "Class Two" affair, which is a love relationship that starts as a friendship and grows primarily because of a deficit in the marriage. These often have a powerful emotional connection and involve a shared task or orientation, such as a common ministry or a shared passion. And there is the "Class Three" affair, which involves sexual addiction. Other addictions often go along with it, and many times there is a history of molestation or sexual activity on the part of the person before puberty.

What about the classic "mid-life crisis" people joke about?

We're finding that these types of affairs are happening when men and women are in their late thirties and forties. There's a pattern to them. Usually they happen in a marriage where there is little spousal interaction. Maybe the couple does everything as a family. When the children in the family grow older, the spouses become vulnerable.

Tell us more about emotional affairs. If there's no sex, just the emotional attachment, is it as serious as a sexual affair?

An emotional affair without sex occurs when two parties share their feelings for each other. These affairs are supercharged with emotion. The sound of her voice, the style of his e-mail—they are all loaded. But if you confront them, they'll insist they've done nothing wrong. These secret emotional affairs are powerful influences in the individuals' lives. They often live in a fantasy world, where they imagine what the other party is doing, even while appearing to watch sports on TV or doing some other task.

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Related Topics:Affair; Infidelity; Marriage

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R DALE Labrum

March 28, 2014  2:07pm

It is good to note that most people don't start out with the intent of having an affair (just like most addicts don't start out thinking they want to become an addict), but they find in the object of their desire someone who seems to meet an unmet need. Open honest communication about those needs whether in bed, emotionally, spiritually need to happen. Too many couples just assume that their spouse knows and don't talk openly about needs, wants and desires. When you commit to a marriage and take your vows, nobody is to have the privilege of knowing you more deeply and intimately than your spouse (this includes physically, psychologically, and spiritually).

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March 27, 2014  1:58pm

There are times when women are their own worst enemies with their insecurities and confrontational attitudes. I am in my mid forties and I have grown to realize that a man loves a woman who loves and is confident about herself and he partner. There are many women who would not allow their husbands some alone time or to simply go out and have an hour or two without the accusation of being with a woman or having an affair. This is frustrating to both parties and this woman eventually chases her husband into another woman's arms who will comfort him, let him know how special he is and how proud she is of his accomplishments. He will much prefer that environment to the friction at home so he eventually spends more and more time there. The wife created her own demise!!

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March 27, 2014  1:10pm

Just to clarify... your #2 remark... maybe there is a reason that women have a lower interest in sex. Most men are horrible in bed. They will read a cell phone manual cover to cover, but take no time or interest in learning what a woman really wants and needs in bed. Also, if men would help with the household chores, children, groceries, dog, etc., maybe the women would not be so exhausted. You poor men and your greater need... well I am here to tell you that my need is huge, it just can not be met by my husband.

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The Christianity Today  women's site provides news and analysis for evangelical women