Although when an affair is revealed to the other spouse they react with shock, hurt and distrust, the truth is that there are different types of affairs and varying reasons as to why people have them (http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/11/cheating_on_your_spouse_might_just_save_your_marriage.html). An affair can spell the end of a marriage, or it can be a wake-up call and the impetus to make the relationship stronger. There are many factors involved including why the person strayed, what is going on in the relationship, how the two people interact with one another, and how they feel about each other. Esther Perel is a couple’s counselor specializing in affairs and author of Mating in Captivity and a research paper on infidelity called “After the Storm.” In this paper, she finds that affairs lead to three types of behavior. The first is when one or both parties continually rehash the infidelity, reliving the trauma again and again, and feeling victimized each time. The next behavior is simply going back to how they operated before the affair occurred. The last behavior displayed is when a couple uses the affair to transform their marriage and make it better.
Affairs are generally thought of as bad things no matter how or why they occurred by people in American society. So the therapeutic community has been slow to embrace this view. But infidelity is common despite the outward view society takes. One reason affairs occur is one person’s fear of intimacy. Some therapists claim that there are certain situations where both parties are responsible for the infidelity. Today, counselors focus not on who is at fault but the underlying causes and the emotions attached to them. Couple’s therapist and director of the Key Bridge Therapy and Mediation Center, Emily Brown, outlines the five different kinds of couples who experience infidelity in a paper entitled, “Catalyst.” There are “conflict avoidance” couples that skirt around the issue but are nice to each other, “screamers” or intimacy avoiders who yell and blame, but fail to address the core problems. There’s the “split self” where a man has a family and a mistress, or even another family. There are “exit affairs” where people are on the way out and just need to affirm it. Lastly, there is the “entitlement affair” like those seen in powerful people, and a recent slew of politicians.