In this case, it was a man. A woman caught her husband having an affair and now he wants to save the marriage. Her actual question was "If someone cheats, why the hell would he want to save his marriage?"
The question could have been asked by anyone whose spouse is begging for forgiveness. Of course, there are as many reasons for having an affair as there are people having them, but those reasons fall into only a few categories. If this is happening to you, knowing what those categories are can help you decide what to do next.
A narcissist has affairs because he thinks he has a right to them. He has never matured past the toddler position that “the world should revolve around me, what I need and what I want.” His basic position is “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours — or anyone else’s for that matter — is mine.” He is the man who can't understand why his wife is upset because he has a mistress. He wants them both and he is unlikely to change his belief that he should have both.
He is contrite and puts on a good show. He looks and sounds charming and often tries to make his wife look like the unreasonable one. There are lots of examples of political and religious leaders like this in the media whose double lives have been exposed. Often the worst offenders want to pass laws against what they are doing themselves.
The Old-Fashioned Chauvinist
In some cultures, having both a wife and mistress was, or still might be, acceptable. The wife was to provide stability and children while the mistress was for entertainment. While the mistress was not hidden, the wife generally ignored her. The man provided well for both and the expectations about what was expected and acceptable behavior between a husband and wife were very different than what they are now.
Some men think they are still living in such a culture. They love their wives and families, don't want to hurt them and think they can manage their lives this way. Sometimes they can. I think they differ from narcissists in that they can genuinely care about other people.
The Sex Addict
The sex addict lives a double life. He feels compelled to have very frequent and brief sexual encounters with many women -- sometimes several in the same day. He may not even know their names. As with any addiction, satisfying his craving for what he thinks he needs, whether it's sex, alcohol, or drugs, takes precedent over everything else in his life.
He may look like anybody else, hold down a job and appear to have a normal family life. However, he's frequently away at supposed meetings or activities. He is at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases and if you're married to him that means you are also at risk.
He may be closely related to the pornography addict, either on or off the Internet. Any addiction starts by using an experience or substance to relieve tension. It gradually takes more and more of the same substance or experience to obtain relief. Eventually the addict establishes a relationship to the substance rather than to people. However, a porn addiction does not put anyone at risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
He may promise to change and mean it, but he can't keep his promise. He needs treatment for his addiction before he can have any kind of meaningful relationship. He wants to stay married because his wife provides both a cover of respectability and a hope of comfort. This kind of marriage is all about his needs and not hers.
The Casual Opportunist
An opportunistic affair often involves
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