What you need to know:
- Partners of cheaters tend to have a higher risk of illness, possibly resulting from chronic stress.
- They also tend to have a low desire for sex and may develop any form of sexual dysfunction including sexual pain, inability to achieve orgasm, and sex aversion.
When Tom came to the Sexology Clinic he complained that he was unable to concentrate at work.
The issue? He had cheated on his wife of 11 years.
"I started flirting around with Rose, my colleague. Then one thing led to another, and I found myself in her house," the 40 year- old father of three, says.
The experience had left Tom troubled emotionally and psychologically. His wife noted that he was distant and disconnected and asked him what was wrong. He feared that things would soon blow up at home. And that's why he was meeting me today.
I needed what his issue was, so I gave him more information on the subject.
Up to 50 percent of married men will end up having extramarital sex at one point or another. This happens commonly where there is marital dissatisfaction; where one feels that the marriage is no longer what they anticipated it to be.
Many do not seek help when the marriage has problems and instead end up having an affair. Affair is especially high if one has low self-esteem and where the marital partner is not good at massaging their ego. When they get someone out there who makes them feel important, they fall.
Additionally, most men have been found to venture out when their wives are pregnant. Pregnancy brings about new dynamics in the relationship that some men are unable to cope with. An affair becomes an easier option.
Men who suspect their wives to be cheating are also vulnerable. There is a natural tendency to revenge even when the suspicions are not well-founded.
"I now know why I got tempted. Will I ever be happy?" Tom asked rather anxiously.
One has to weigh the gains against the losses. Studies have shown that in some cases, affairs lead to more sex, but on the downside, they give rise to relationship conflicts.
Cheaters, get more dissatisfied with their marriages, lose emotional connection with their spouses, and the risk of separation and divorce rises.
Partners of cheaters tend to have a higher risk of illness, possibly resulting from chronic stress. They also tend to have a low desire for sex and may develop any form of sexual dysfunction including sexual pain, inability to achieve orgasm, and sex aversion.
Those who cheat, are themselves not spared of ill health. In one study some men having affairs were followed up over several years. Compared to men who were faithful in marriage, they were found to have a higher incidence of heart disease and stroke. Some ended up dying. The study concluded that extramarital sexual relationships could be a risk factor for severe and fatal diseases of the heart and blood systems.
"Doctor are you not just using science to justify your values?" Tom accused.
I reclined back on my seat, wondering if Tom's view of me could be true. Sexual health professionals must always dissociate their values from their professional practice. I needed Tom's confidence that I did not have a conflict of interest in his matter so I pulled out three research papers that have been published on the subject and gave them to him to read for himself.
"So what do I do now?" Tom asked.
I told Tom that we all have a conscience that helps us make choices. We must however know that choices have consequences and we must be able to bear consequences of whatever decisions we make.
"It will be very difficult to evade my colleague Rose, now that we are colleagues. How do I dismiss her?" Tom shared.
I asked him to take a break and reflect on what he wanted. As long as he was aware of the risks and benefits of his decision, he could take whatever direction he wanted to take.