A midlife affair is a deep experience that can destroy the core of a relationship or family.
What do you consider to be an affair?
An affair is defined carefully and differently by people in unique situations. This can suggest that a midlife affair is the expression of an ongoing challenge and the expression of a deeper story.
Midlife affair is a symptom of a bigger issue that a person tries to solve through a new relationship, adventure, or oasis.
Do we try to fix a broken trust, relationship or do we try to create a new friendship after the discovery of an affair. The answer to these questions will show you how you currently view affairs.
Most midlife affairs rarely last very long because of the unique structure, energy, secrecy and passion required to sustain the affair.
Someone asked a question based on my previous post on midlife relationships -
How do you protect yourself from affairs?
This is a deep question with a bigger brewing narrative. Read this question again and determine what the person is really asking.
Is it a recovery question?
Is it an avoidance question?
Is it a protect myself question?
Is it a protect my partner question?
The way you form your question is indicative of your backdrop of beliefs about relationships and the unpleasant experiences of affairs, especially at midlife.
It is said that a woman will more likely marry the man that is consistently available and shows care and affection and not necessarily the person she truly loves. Is this true? It is also said that men “see” and pursue and later ask the question of love or compatibility. Depending on your cultural background and the way relationships and marriage are defined, instituted and the primary purpose such as procreation duty, security, romance or love. The sources of midlife affairs are rooted within those backdrops. These are the seats of boundary formation, destruction of boundaries or justification of actions.
The statement I made about men and women at the beginning of this conversation is therefore unconscious belief systems that can become tools of affair rationalisation. These beliefs can aid your exploration and absorb you of guilt or shame. You might experience the feeling of shame as an act of self-responsibility or accountability. You are sorry for being caught but not guilty of the act.
Guilt is a relational responsibility towards your partner.
It seems your partner is unable to experience guilt because the backdrop within his subconscious is that he is justified and then with that comes the experience of the sweet and sour or the sweet and bitter taste of the encounter.
Should your partner not feel guilt or shame after an affair?
“Why does my partner continue to have an affair?” “Why does it always feel like my partner is abusing my intelligence?” “If my partner is going to cheat on me, at least he should be smarter or wiser about it.”
This is a backdrop belief statement unconsciously hiding deep in your mind.
You have said over and over again that “all men cheat” but you are totally in shock at the discovery of your husband’s affairs. You also experience guilt and shame - “maybe I did not do enough,” “it’s my fault,” “I pushed him away,” yet you can't bear the feeling and label of being the “victim” of an affair. Life has many basic issues that are complex. While you hate to be the victim, you expected this affair. For you, it was just a question of when.
The most complicated of the approaches is coded “loud silence.” We both are aware of the situation but we cannot afford to lose our ambiguous stability and security. Too much is at stake, therefore, we will keep the open secret and confront these issues in 10 years' time. These are no straight answers to many basic questions in life.
I, personally, do not justify affairs nor do I believe that allowance should be provided for it. I have only highlighted the issues and begun the deep conversations that many are not willing to have.
Midlife affairs do not happen between just 2 people, it’s a whole cast and crew of a 13-episode drama series - you already know the drill… right? Although 2 people created the drama series, they engaged the cast without auditions - the spouse, the children, the drivers, the cleaner, the personal assistant, close friends and most times, some if not all employees/colleagues become aware of the affair and they will unconsciously cast a vote for or against. Think about it now, will you beam gentle support for your cast or an aggressive dismissal of their awareness?
You have placed your unwilling cast in a position of plausible deniability.
The deeper the affair goes, the more people you will cast and the more favours you need to give away.
Should I continue or stop?