Why do married persons seek out extramarital affairs or use porn?

The theme of this essay is that unmet emotional and unsatisfied sexual needs can lead a married person to look elsewhere in an attempt to fulfill or at least partially satisfy those needs.  Thus, extramarital affairs and porn use are both problems, yes, but these can also be symptomatic of other underlying problems or unresolved issues in the marriage.

 

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I heard a radio talk show some time ago (a few years now) on married persons seeking out extramarital affairs.  The guests, operators of a website that facilitates or enables extramarital affairs, said that the 2 principal reasons that individuals (both husbands and wives) gave for seeking out and engaging in an affair were that their emotional needs were not met by their spouse and/or that their sexual needs were unfulfilled or neglected by their spouse.  And, they added that this was the situation for several years before they sought out someone else in an affair.  This situation of unmet, frustrated, neglected needs after years motivates a person to seek out someone else to meet or satisfy these needs.  In many other marriages, the neglected, unfulfilled spouse seeks divorce rather than engage in an affair while they are still married.

As to porn use,  it is sad that a husband turns to porn because his wife refuses him frequent sex.  We are not talking here of the man who brought an addiction to porn with him to the marriage.  (That is a serious problem, yes.) Wives, men need frequent sex.  That is the reality.  Using sex, the withholding of it, to punish your husband or as a “bargaining chip” is wrong – morally wrong, and is harmful to your marriage.  I have written a few comments on a marriage blog about this and have provoked the dismay or even the ire of some women who cannot see that a husband’s porn use can be due to a wife refusing sex to him.  (Spouses need to be honest here.)

Think of it this way: if a man is hungry, suffering hunger, he obsesses on his obtaining his next meal – if/when he will be able to get it.  The feeling in his stomach, the craving for food becomes a very powerful force in his life.  The man who is reliably getting 3 meals a day does not give much thought to his next meal as he knows it will be there for him when he wants to eat.  A man, or woman, that is having frequent and satisfying sex with his/her spouse is much less likely to go seeking an affair for sex, or to use porn.  This is also true for emotional needs.  When one’s emotional needs are met within their marriage, one is not likely to seek out someone else to meet these needs.

No married person should be longing for something they are not getting. Neglecting your spouse’s needs puts your marriage at serious risk of possible failure and dissolution.

Sadly, the Christian churches do not address sexual refusal within marriage. (Some Christian marriage bloggers do.)  It is not on their radar screen so to speak.  But, sexual refusal of your spouse is a sin.  (I am not going to preach to you, dear readers, but this needs to be said.)  Sexual refusal leads to temptation and to sin for the spouse that is being refused.  Similarly, neglecting your spouse’s emotional needs is also sinful.  Remember that you exchanged marriage vows with your spouse.  And, those vows called for you to love your spouse – actively, not passively.  Thus, continuing effort is required on each spouse’s part.

(We should note here that we currently see 2 harmful extremes in play as to sex.  The first extreme is that of the so-called sexual revolution.  Sex anytime, anywhere, for any reason or for no reason, with anyone, in any form, without any commitment, is permissible under this paradigm.  We reject this.  But, the other extreme is also destructive and harmful.  This other extreme – that says (or implies) to Christians that sex within marriage is somehow tainted or “dirty” or is not pleasing to God – is wrong and needs to be rejected by Christians.  This sexual pessimism and hatred of pleasure is not authentically Christian but has its roots in ancient pagan schools of thought (as has been written about in lengthy, well documented books in recent decades).  The ascetic life does not make one holy.  Actively loving God and loving your fellow humans makes a person good and holy.  Love, compassion and caring, not asceticism, are the key factors.)

This failing to meet your spouse’s needs applies to both husbands and wives.  It seems that with some husbands there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of their wife’s emotional needs and how to satisfy these.  Guys, your wife is not just like a man but who happens to have a vagina.  With some wives, there is a similar lack of understanding that their husband needs frequent sexual intimacy.  Of course, the reverse can be the case in some marriages.  There are husbands that are workaholics and who are frequently “too tired” or too stressed for lovemaking.  (As well, in some marriages, the wife has the higher sex drive.)  And, there are wives who fail to recognize that a husband has emotional needs, too.

(As for being too tired or not having enough time for lovemaking, couples can make the effort to set aside some quality time for this other than very late in the evening.  Yes, with busy work schedules and family responsibilities it can be a challenge to find the time but make this a priority and you can likely find the time.)

Be sure to work to remove these threats to your marriage.  Fulfilling and satisfying your spouse’s emotional and sexual needs is an area that you have some control over.  Consider making the fulfillment of your spouse’s needs a priority that you will put effort into making happen.  As well, while working to meet your spouse’s needs, talk with him or her if your needs are not being fully met.  Communication, both open and honest, is necessary.  Do not let problem situations go unresolved.  (Marriage counseling can help and may be appropriate in your situation.)  It can be difficult to be more giving and make the sacrifices necessary for a good marriage, but that is the nature of marriage.  Unlike in children’s fairy tales, couples rarely live happily ever after.  However, a good, lasting and reasonably happy marriage can be achieved if both spouses make the effort.

Strong marriages lead to strong families and that is good for the individuals in those families and for society as a whole.  Children suffer terribly when their parents separate and then divorce.  This harm to children cannot be trivialized or minimized.

If you think these type situations (unmet needs) and these problems in marriages are very rare, check out the numerous reader comments from both wives and husbands to a recent post over at intimacyinmarriage.com.

http://intimacyinmarriage.com/2014/12/05/has-your-husband-stopped-initiating-sex/

Thanks for reading and thinking about these issues.  If appropriate in your situation, forward a link to this essay on to your spouse.

Today, 07 January 2015, we posted the link to this essay over at the Wednesday link party here:

http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2015/01/attitudes-in-bedroom/

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