Self and Infidelity

I see and hear it all the time in my psychotherapy practice. Couples come in with their stories of infidelity wound and the havoc it wreaked in their marriage. And without fail, unfaithful partners bring with them an excuse, a rationalization, for their infidelity.

A man I was counseling once blurted out during one of our sessions, “She’s always tired. I give up. I’m not getting enough sex with my wife at home. So I looked somewhere else and I felt good!” This man was using his biological sexual need as an excuse for his marital infidelity.

You get the picture? For every story of infidelity and its disastrous aftermath, the self – whether consciously or unconsciously – finds an excuse. The unfaithful self has been emotionally or financially deprived; misunderstood or mistreated at home; fallen out of love; married to the wrong person.

When working with individuals who committed infidelity, it’s very common to hear them saying that the affair just happened because of the perceived reasons or “excuses.” Some even speak openly about it. They’d often say it’s not the right thing to do, but they find themselves unable to say no to it.

The truth is, not much in our relationships “just happens.” Our self chooses. The self, with all its internal wounds or issues, makes choices day after day that eventually leads to an end. When there is a sick self or pathology in character, psychologists speak of the self’s “disabled will” in need of healing to choose healthy and wholeness.

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