Married couples say “I do” and believe that they are committed to one another for the rest of their lives. Rarely do people want to suspect their partner of an extramarital affair—but it does happen. Sometimes infidelity ends up going on for so long that you lead a double life, one where you are committed to someone who isn’t your spouse.
While most affairs have a distinct beginning and end, there are some that stand the test of time and go undiscovered for years.
Here are the 9 truths about lifelong extramarital affairs:
What Is A Lifelong Extramarital Affair?
To have an affair means to have an intimate relationship—emotional or physical—with another person beyond your spouse. You might also hear the term “adultery” or “infidelity.”
When an affair goes on for more than a year, it is labeled as “long-term.” Should an affair last as long (or longer) than the marriage, it’s considered “lifelong.” Usually, an affair is a direct sabotage to your union and often leads to contention at home once you are caught. A lifelong extramarital affair, however, tends to be a completely different beast.
1. Lifelong Affairs Happen When Both Parties Are Married
Wondering the reason behind some affairs that last for years? Many lifelong affairs occur when both parties are already married. Maybe you run into your first love from high school decades later. You are both married and have children. Even when your marriage is ideal, there could still be a spark that drives you both together again. As long as the affair doesn’t affect your life at home, you are willing to risk being caught to maintain the connection.
Sometimes the thought of getting a divorce to be with the person you’re having the affair with is unsettling. Maybe you feel love for both people and don’t want to cause upheaval while trying to decide who to be with.
2. Many Lifelong Affairs Turn Into Love
Most affairs tend to have a short fuse and fizzle out rapidly. What separates long-term affairs from short-term ones is the connection the two people have. When you love the person you are having the affair with, backing out of the affair can be difficult. One of the best examples of this is the story of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The two had an affair that was 27 years long, even though Spencer Tracy was married to someone else during that period.
Because of the connection shared, ending the affair becomes impossible. At the same time, the quality of the marriage could also perpetuate the affair, especially if there are children involved.
3. Maintaining A Lifelong Extramarital Affair Is Stressful
The most successful relationships are built over time. There are experiences that a couple shares that binds them together. In marriage, you must both work together in a continuous effort. It’s a constant balancing act—one that is hopefully rooted in love and commitment.
Now, what happens when you add an extramarital affair into the mix? First off, there is no way to truly balance an affair with a good marriage. Somewhere along the line, something will slip out of place. The stress of being discovered, of ruining what you have, is nearly constant.
4. Lifelong Affairs Are Difficult To End
Cutting the cord on the affair only gets more difficult the more entrenched you become. The habit of belonging to one another, sharing the secret, and developing a longstanding routine almost make the affair seem as normal as going to work. The affair doesn’t feel like anything extra. It just is—and that is why the affair is hard to end.
5. You May Feel Like You Are Stuck
The lifelong extramarital affair will bring you to a crossroads. The situation is undoubtedly complex. You’re married but truly in love with someone else. At this point, you are going to feel stuck. Indeed, that is where most people in lifelong extramarital affairs find themselves: between a rock and a hard place.
How do you tell your spouse about a lifelong affair? How do you choose one person when you love them both? After so many years and experiences, you may even feel obligated to continue the affair. The infidelity may even be habitual now, and you may suspect that your spouse knows about it but hasn’t said anything.
However, if those feelings of being trapped remain, it’s not going to end well for anyone. Maybe it is time to speak to an infidelity therapist.
6. An Affair Can Be Stronger Than A Marriage
It hurts to think that your partner finds true love with someone else, especially when you said your vows. For the two having an affair, the connection may indeed be something special. It could feel irreplaceable and deep. As a marriage begins to fall apart, the affair that has been a lifelong commitment only gets stronger and more supportive.
7. There Are Many Reasons For Extramarital Affairs
You can find many stories online about why people have had lifelong affairs. Maybe the spouse was sick or disabled and unable to attend to sexual needs. Maybe the two married because of a child but didn’t really love each other. A first love returned and the love remained the same, while the spark in the marriage was already beginning to fade.
Hunger, loneliness, tiredness, and anger are emotions that drive people to seek the love of another outside of the marriage. Should the issues persist in the marriage, the chances of an affair becoming long-term only increases.
8. Affairs Are Seen As A Break From Reality
Some marriages are not made in heaven. There can be struggles at home that make the affair seem like a paradise in comparison. The ability to communicate with one’s spouse often drives a wedge between partners, leading on to seek validation elsewhere. Even if the two only meet for a few hours a week, the affair may be the departure from reality that keeps both people moving through every other aspect of their lives.
9. You Will Have An Inevitable Choice To Make
In the end, the secrecy is only going to create a rift and make life difficult. Maintaining a long-term affair will tax everyone involved. That is why the choice to reveal the affair is inevitable. However, who you choose, and how you wish to end either relationship, is up to you.
Final Thoughts On Lifelong Extramarital Affairs
Extramarital affairs rarely last a lifetime, but when they do, it is because of secrecy and sacrifice and a real loving connection. These are not easy affairs to maintain, and the longer they go on, the harder it will be for everyone involved. If you need help ending or recovering from an extramarital affair, the first step is to come clean to your partner. Commit to visiting a couples therapist together and work to resolve issues.
Couples Academy can help you strengthen your marriage and forge a love for each other like no other. Ending an affair is difficult but together you can do anything. Give us a call or fill out the contact form today for more information about our programs.