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The Slippery Slope to Infidelity

Infidelity is one of the most difficult things that can happen to a relationship. When asked if they’d stay in a relationship after infidelity, 70-80% of people say “No way!”. But when it comes down to it, about 70% of couples try to recover from infidelity. Typically, between 15-30% are successful at doing so. This may seem bleak, but I think it’s quite hopeful that nearly 30% of couples can make it through the hardest trial for a relationship.  


Woman sitting on the floor with a book and glass of wine looking sad because of infidelity

So, what’s at the core of infidelity? Are we just not meant to be monogamous? Are men just incapable of controlling themselves? While these are hotly debated questions, I think there is something else at play. Something much more subtle. And at its core, it is the same thing as infidelity. Let me explain. 


First, I have seen two standard reasons for an infidelity to occur. One is a reflection of the relationship, the other a reflection of the character of the partner who had the affair. I am going to be speaking entirely of the first example, where the affair is a reflection of the relationship.  


What if I told you that your habit, we’ll call it, of drinking, gambling, playing video games, shopping, or scrolling through social media could be infidelity? You may be thinking, “What?? That doesn’t make sense.” Well, it does, when you understand what’s at the core of infidelity. The core of infidelity is turning away from your partner to someone or something else to meet your needs. Read that again.  


There’s a bit to unpack in that. When we choose to get married, we choose to give ourselves to our partner, entirely. Whenever something gets in the way of us being able to do that, we start heading down the slippery slope of infidelity. Now, I’m not suggesting that a couple drinks every week, or a night at the casino, or playing video games is always an act of infidelity. But there is a line that we cross when those things start to fill our needs beyond a certain level of coping or stress reduction. And you know where that line is. You can feel it. 


When you want to just numb out because you can’t handle your emotions, so you turn to substances, you're engaging in a form of infidelity. This is true with anything else like food, gaming, work, or even our kids. This is especially true when we turn to coworkers, friends, or people we’ve met at the gym to start filling our need to feel important and understood.  


a staircase with someone walking up representing how one step leads to another in infidelity

As we turn to someone or something else to meet our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or sexual needs, to whatever degree, we start down that road of infidelity. It may not happen immediately, but at some point, those small steps of infidelity will turn into big steps.  


So, what are the things that you turn to instead of your partner? What is it that helps you fill your tank if it’s not your partner? Why do you turn to these things? Why don’t you feel safe or comfortable turning toward your partner? These are deeply important questions to answer as they will illuminate problem areas in your relationship to be addressed. Problems that if not addressed soon, will lead to the decay of your connection which often leads to outright infidelity.  


If you think your marriage may need a tune-up to address some of these questions, then reach out to a professional marriage counselor who can provide a safe space for you to work through these important things.  

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