What are the consequences of affairs between married couples? This is a question that is often on our minds when we see two married people locked in an extramarital affair. In fact, writers, filmmakers and creative artists have tried to answer this question through their respective mediums.
In this respect, I would like to mention two films that showed two very starkly different consequences of affairs when both parties are married. One is Damage (1991) and the other Little Children (2006), made 15 years later.
Interestingly, Damage depicts a rather realistic view of what happens when two people who are in relationships start cheating and get embroiled in an extramarital affair. Little Children, on the other hand, takes a more Utopian view of two married people having an affair, with both getting away with their transgression without consequences.
But can the two relationships remain unscathed and unscarred when both cheaters are married? Let’s delve deeper into the dynamics of two married people falling in love and embarking on an extramarital affair to understand.
Do Affairs Between Married Couples Last?
This is a million-dollar question and there is no statistic to back-up my answer with. But if we go by what filmmakers have to tell us, we can say these don’t or very few do. As they showed in Little Children the two married people involved in the extramarital affair were ready to leave home and elope but couldn’t bring themselves to.
While Sarah changes her mind at the last minute and decides she belongs with her family, her beau, Brad, meets with an accident on his way to meet her. When the paramedics arrive, he chooses to call his wife over his lover.
That’s to be expected when two married people having an affair are forced to choose between their love interest and spouse (and perhaps children too). That’s why affairs, when both parties are married, are usually flippant.
Because very few married people take the step to move out of their respective marriages and most usually go back to their respective partners or continue the relationship until the whistle is not blown on them.
The ending of Damage is even more dramatic. A married man continues his affair on the sly with his son’s fiance only to be discovered in bed with her by the son. The distraught young man stumbles down a stairwell to his death, costing the two people caught in the affair everything.
What happens when both are married but have fallen in love?
This is not to say affairs between married couples don’t last. It depends on how serious two people are about the affair. Usually, people look for things – consciously or unconsciously – that they lack in their marriage and once they get it from someone else they are satisfied.
Emotional affairs or lust are common in extramarital affairs that’s why when guilt and shame kick in they try to go back and reconcile in the marriage. So married couple affairs don’t last.
But there are people with abusive partners, cheating or irresponsible spouses who want to get out of the marriage. As it happened with Tanuka, an actress, and her husband Ritz, who is a director. They were friends as couples but they were in troubled marriages, they fell for each other, divorced their respective partners and are happily married now. In this case, two married people having an affair found their happily-ever-after with each other.
When in an extramarital affair both are married but have fallen in love, it is important to take a firm call on the future of your respective marriages as well as the relationship. Are you ready to leave your spouses and start a life together? Or will you sacrifice your love for each other for the sake of saving your marriage?
This is never an easy call to make, but you can’t go on living a double life.
How do affairs between married couples start?
This is another tricky question. But let me start by saying that affairs between married couples are common. Statistics show that 30-60% of married couples in the US have extramarital affairs at some point or other. A survey conducted by Gleeden dating app in India showed that 7 out of 10 women cheat on their spouses to escape unhappy marriages.
So starting an extramarital affair seems to be the easiest thing because in the online era being in touch constantly is easier. Most affairs start with conversations; and thanks to social media, instant messaging and video calling apps, there is no dearth of avenues to kickstart conversations and keep them going.
When two people are married it often happens that they meet socially a number of times before the affair takes off and they start meeting secretly. Although social meets often continue after that. Office friendships often turn to office affairs, sometimes people also meet on dating apps or they could have been friends as couples for ages when suddenly they feel more intimate than before and an affair takes off.
It’s hard to pinpoint how an extramarital affair between two married people exactly starts but in the modern era, there just is no paucity of ways in which it can.
Related Reading: Her SMS To Me Revealed My Husband’s Extra Marital Affair
How do affairs impact the spouses when both cheaters are married?
Speaking about the consequences of an affair between married people on their respective spouses, psychological counselor and psychotherapist Sampreeti Das says, “An extramarital affair hardly stay hidden from the spouse. There may be difficulty opposing it due to multiple factors. Nevertheless, it leaves the other partner with questions about themselves and compromised ability to trust another relationship.
“While the partner is not responsible for any provocation of the situation, it may leave an impression under which they consider themselves responsible for their spouse’s cheating. Then, there are psychological risk factors behind a partner making a choice for an extramarital affair.
“An extra marital affair may appear to be a situation to gain insight on whether one chooses to deal with the partner in question or not. Successful coping can add to personal growth. Apart from the psychological impacts, there may also be financial and legal risks involved, as applied to regional contexts.”
The long and short of it is that when both cheaters are married the affair can turn into messy quickly. Take the example of Sherry and James whose marital bond took a severe hit after Sherry’s extramarital with an old friend from college.
The two had had a brief fling back in the day, and then, got on with their lives. Years later, Sherry connected with her old flame on social media, and as the two got talking, one thing led to another and they ended up getting romantically involved. As is often the case, affairs start with conversation.
Sherry fell in love with this long-lost friend and came clean with James about it. But she also was in love with James and wasn’t ready to sacrifice her marriage for her affair. After spending some time apart, going into couple’s therapy, the two decided to reconcile and stay together despite the infidelity.
Healing from it has been a long journey for James. Even though he has made progress, he doesn’t feel he can trust Sherry completely even now or perhaps ever.
How do affairs between married couples end?
It’s true most affairs between married couples do end because the burden of carrying the affair is enormous. Once the affair is discovered both the people involved in the affair have to deal with the allegations and anger of the respective spouses and if children are involved then it does become further messy.
Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh in his film Dosar brilliantly shows how the respective spouses deal with the extramarital affair after its discovery happens after an accident. The stages of anger, heartbreak and reconciliation are poignantly shown.
The consequences of extramarital affairs between married couples are devastating at times. Also, as it is seen women find it harder to leave home than men so that leads to further complications if the couple wants to look at a future together.
But there is no denying the fact that there are some rare life-long affair stories between married couples. As one man, who could not marry the love of his life because of social pressures but came together with her later in life when they were both married and they stayed in love for the next 20 years, said, “We survived because we kept it under wraps and lived in separate states of India and met very rarely. If it had been a full-blown affair and everyone came to know we would have probably had to give up because we had grown up children who would have never accepted it.”
Stuart, who is a college professor is having an affair with a colleague. Both are married with children. He says, “We both are married but we have fallen in love. It’s a very fulfilling relationship. I am not willing to let go. I will remain a dutiful husband and father but she is an important part of my life, my wife will have to accept that.”
As Anton Chekov puts in the last lines of his famous short story Lady With The Pet Dog, a story that looks into an affair between a married couple:
“Then they spent a long while taking counsel together, talked of how to avoid the necessity for secrecy, for deception, for living in different towns and not seeing each other for long at a time. How could they be free from this intolerable bondage?
“How? How?” he asked, clutching his head. “How?”
And it seemed as though in a little while the solution would be found, and then a new and splendid life would begin; and it was clear to both of them that they had still a long, long road before them, and that the most complicated and difficult part of it was only just beginning.”
Guess that’s the consequence of an affair between two married people. It stays complicated from the beginning to the end.
Married people having affairs is almost always the result of something lacking in the marital bond. Rather than working on the underlying issues in the marriage, people take the easy route of supplementing the shortcoming in their marriage with an affair.
There is no way to generalize the reasons and the emotion behind an affair. It all depends on the two people involved in the affair and their emotional connection. That said, getting into an extramarital affair because you fall in love with someone outside your marriage is just as common as cheating out of lust.
First of all, keeping an affair going at the cost of one’s marriage is very unlikely. In less than 25% of cases do people leave their spouses for their cheating partner. When it is the case of two married people having an affair, the odds are stacked further against the people carrying on a clandestine relationship.