by Willard F. Harley, best-selling author of His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage
By learning to understand yourself and your spouse as totally unique people with particular emotional needs, you can identify your needs and communicate them with each other…When a spouse lacks fulfillment of any of the basic needs, it creates a thirst that must be quenched.
If changes do not take place within the marriage to care for that need, the individual will face the powerful temptation to fill it outside of marriage. If we are to make our marriages affair-proof, we cannot hide our heads in the sand. The spouse who believes his or her partner is “different” and, despite unmet needs, would never take part in an affair may receive a devastating shock someday. Instead, we need to understand the warning signs that an affair could happen, how such liaisons may begin, and how to strengthen the weak areas of a marriage in the face of such a relationship.
An affair usually begins as a friendship. Your spouse may know the person who eventually becomes your lover as the husband or wife in a couple you consider “best friends.” Or your lover may be someone you have met at work, church, or a community function. Conversation draws you together. At first you talk about various topics of interest, but over time you begin to share personal problems with each other. As you spend more time together, you discuss more intimate problems, and eventually the problems you discuss reflect unmet emotional needs. As your friendship deepens, you start giving each other mutual support and encouragement, especially in regard to your unmet needs. Life is difficult. Many people become extremely disillusioned about the way their lives are turning out. When they find someone encouraging and supportive, the attraction towards that person acts as a powerful magnet.
Very often the friendship that grows into an affair is very illogical. A wife will get a look at her husband’s lover and exclaim, “How in the world could he be interested in her?” When a husband discovers his wife’s lover, he wonders, “What could she be thinking?” But the attraction is not logical; it’s emotional. Based on the facts the relationship stands no chance of succeeding and very rarely does. What matters at the moment, however, is that the lover has been able to meet an unfulfilled need. He or she is regarded as the most caring person the wayward spouse has ever met, and a reciprocal desire to care for the lover is felt very deeply.