People often have affairs because they imagine that the liason will give them something that they are not receving in their marriage. This can be the case but people often minimize the effect it will also have on their spouse and family. For example, as one of my interviewees explains: "I was shocked at Mary’s reaction to my affair. We hadn't been intimate for years and had all but said the marriage was over. When I told her about Nancy and that I was leaving, she just fell apart. I remember looking at her and having the realization that she loved me. I hadn't felt that in so long I kind of forgot that we had loved each other. If I had realized there was still hope for our marriage, I never would have started the affair."
Being attracted to someone else can be a good thing... when you use that as motivation to improve your marriage. It can reconnect you to something you and your partner no longer share. If you find yourself the confidant, you will most likely assume your friend feels that he or she doesn't have the energy or resources to fix their marriage — so what is the harm in having a little fun? While it will take a lot to fix the marriage, the reality is the energy they will expend dealing with the fallout of an affair is far bigger than they can even imagine. It will affect everyone in the family, and will always be a part of the fabric of the relationship. Granted, some marriages are over long before affairs begin, but why not just end the marriage first?
What is a friend to do when they find out about a dalliance or infidelity? There is no clear cut answer, though most agree that they don't even want to get involved in the first place. Everyone must decide for themselves, and much of your decision will depend on your own set of values.
One thing I would recommend; think through the consequences of covering for your friend — or asking a friend to cover up for you. It is a slippery slope from finding out about the affair to being part of the cover-up. Decide what works for you, and let your friends know your limits as you work to ameliorate the situation. Do your best to help your friend keep some degree of clarity in this process. If you find yourself living vicariously through your friend's affair, look at your own marriage or relationship and do something about it before it becomes its own casualty of an affair.
Kanya is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Private Practice in Paoli, Pennsylvania. She is a highly sought after Relationship Expert and author whose work has been syndicated by the Huffington Post and Fox News Magazine. Kanya specializes in coaching single women who are ready to create meaningful relationships and helping couples deepen their levels of intimacy and closeness. Find out more about Kanya and download her new e-book for women.