When there’s a third party involved by Stacey Lewis

Divorce can be extremely difficult…..without any added complications. Imagine how much more complicated things can be when there is a third party involved.

The dynamics of an affair are not simple. Very often, both parties, shall we call them “the cheator” and “the cheatee” very often feel as if they are the victim in the situation.

The cheatee feels victimised, as they have been abandoned and betrayed.

The cheator feels victimised because they feel that their spouse has placed them in this situation. They feel that if their marriage was not in a state of disconnect, they would not have been “forced” to get their needs met elsewhere.

Please note, that by explaining the view of both parties, I am in no way condoning the act of adultery.

For the cheator, an affair provides them with a respite from their marital disharmony or disconnect. This often has an effect of making this person less sensitive to the spouse that they are leaving. Because they already have a “place to go”, so to speak, they are often not present in the high emotion of the divorce situation. As a result, they may appear insensitive, impatient and intolerant of the displays of emotion of their spouse that they are leaving. One man I know used to berate his soon-to-be-ex for crying when she saw him. He would tell her that she was “sliding down a slippery slope” and that she should stop crying and move on with her life…..three weeks after he left her suddenly.

Another woman became aggressive towards her husband when he told people in the community of her affair. Instead of taking responsibility for her behaviour, she became incensed when her shennanigans became public knowledge.

Some spouses feel so guilty for their affair that they land up over-compensating in a divorce agreement. Unfortunately for the spouse that has been left behind, this is of little consolation.

The issues that the cheatee has to deal with are many. Not only are they dealing with the loss of their marriage, but they are dealing with betrayal, rejection and abandonment at the deepest level. Their pain feels even more despairing as this is juxtaposed with their errant spouse’s elation with their affair partner.

Lizelle * left her husband for her boss. As can be expected, her ex husband was initially devasted. This devastation soon turned to incredible anger. As a result, he cut her off financially, often to the detriment of their children. He would openly badmouth both Lizelle and her boyfriend. He had a set of spare keys for Lizelle’s car and came and “stole” her car in the middle of the night. The children, who were staying with Lizelle at the time, awoke to find their mother’s car “stolen”. They had to miss school that day and they were exceptionally traumatised.  Even though Lizelle was the initial “perpetrator”, her husband’s retalliative actions landed up hurting their children too.

The truth is that affairs do not happen in a vacuum and they are most certainly a symptom of something missing in a marriage or a disconnect in the relationship. Affairs are also common when a couple have children between them. It is so common to focus on children at the expense of a partner, especially in the early years of your children’s lives. Of course, there is a wealth of information available on how to affair-proof your marriage, but this is not always a guaranteed safeguard.

The main thing to be cognisant of is that:

Life happens

Affairs happen

It can be absolutely devastating. Despite this, it is important to always keep your children’s safety and wellbeing in mind. No matter how devastating the affair, they need to be shielded as much as possible. If you are the cheator, remember that it is not just your soon-to-be ex spouse that you are hurting – your children are casualties too. If you are the cheatee – try not to include your children in on details that may harm them. Make sure that any angry retalliations towards your soon-to-be ex spouse do not end up harming your children.

Of course, this is simpler in theory than in practice. We are all human and things are not simple when the heart and emotions are involved. Seek help, if possible.

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