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Infidelity: Why Her?

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Given that affairs are commonly motivated by neglect and unfulfilled needs, there is a standard counseling question: what need is the other woman meeting that you are not? A counselor will often insist there must be something. The question can make the person being asked feel as though she is doing something wrong and send her on what may be a useless scavenger hunt for her marital failures. Though it is a valid question, spending time seeking LBS failures can be unproductive and guilt-forming; instead consider why your midlifer felt neglected. No one is perfect and it is inevitable that a spouse will not fulfill every need, but there are circumstances when a person in midlife crisis refuses to accept, acknowledge or even recognize a spouse's attention. Explain and rephrase the question.

What is the quality within the alienator that allows him to project his repressions onto her, thus yielding an attraction? What is attracting him to the alienator that you cannot offer?

Often there are needs the spouse is not or was not meeting that the other woman is meeting, but these are not due to spousal neglect, rather they are due to the midlifer's refusal to allow the spouse to meet these needs. Some cheating midlifers continue sexual relations with agreeing spouses, some would continue, but the spouse refuses. But after disclosure or discovery many transfer monogamy to the other woman, thereby forbidding the spouse from meeting the midlifer's sexual and accompanying needs.

Even during reconciliation or attempted returns, when the other woman is not present, there may still be needs a peroson in midlife crisis will not allow the LBS to fulfill. Often these are wants rather than needs--such as an MLCer wanting someone to make decisions for him. The other woman will comply by deciding which woman he should choose; this is often the main decision an MLCer delegates to another.

The unfulfilled needs may not be those at the bottom of Maslow's pyramid of hierarchal needs such as love, food, shelter--basics. A spouse may have provided those without fail. But what primitive piece of himself is missing that he is now recognizing in and projecting onto another woman. He spent years projecting onto his wife and learned that she is real, not fantasy. It is now the fantastical temptress that lures him into the depths--and since he is being lured, he is unaware that the depths are the destination. People select a mate who embodies the qualities missing within themselves and/or the qualities of the parent with whom they have perhaps the most conflict or issues; that is to say, people select a mate who is a complement to their anima/animus.

But this is not a sufficient explanation. People in midlife crisis leave seeking independence and freedom but are already involved or immediately begin a romantically based relationship with someone who swiftly becomes possessive and controlling. Why does someone who wants to call the shots escape his marriage for a relationship with another woman who insists on being his jailer? In fairness, the controlling behaviours of an alienator may be initially subtle and gradually increase. But they are present and may be evident in the other woman's angry responses to the perceived injustices committed by the evil spouse--as described by the person in midlife crisis.

People in midlife crisis live in a victim mentality. Though often manipulative, they are also a whirlwind of confusion and instability, desperately grasping for something solid, secure and stable. Victims, overwhelmed in their insecurity, may be attracted to controllers. Other women are jealous in nature--since they are assuming possession of a married man--and seek to control the MLCer to avoid losing him to the spouse or a new other woman. This level of control tends to increase as the relationship and midlife crisis progresses and as the MLCer grows and matures the control destroys the relationship. But in the beginning when he is seeking anything that seems solid, control may meet this need. A controller takes over decisions and provides a feeling of safety. In midlif crisis affairs both the other woman and the MLCer may be seeking this controlling stability in their partners. MLCers seem controlling because of their Knight in Shining Armour Syndrome in which they get to rescue the fair maiden and sweep her off her feet, and other women seek control in that they get to rescue the MLCer from a wicked and uncaring wife and nurture him to health. The relationship is an abusive dynamic which keeps the MLCer stuck or returning as he fears the other woman's actions and reactions.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
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