Some sympathy for married women!
Are many married women actually very lonely? Seems like a rather interesting topic to explore in a day and age where social media and technology is allowing couples to communicate more often than not. But the means of communication isn't the problem, it's the communication itself in a time of prosperous lifestyle opportunities.
Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D., writes on his wealth of experience with frustrated married women.
"Each day I am confronted by women who are extremely frustrated with their marriages. They usually express no hope that their husbands will ever understand what it is that frustrates them, let alone change enough to solve the problem. From their perspective, marital problems are created by their husbands who do little or nothing to solve them."(1)
Marriage is a term best associated historically with the pursuit of survival interests. For most people on the planet, up until about a century ago, it was a matter of arranging opportunistic unions for the elevation of status and security in pretty much every culture since the dawn of time.
According to Stephanie Coontz author of 'Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.' This traditional act of union between a man and woman is quite simply an arranged alliance that had really high survival results.
"Marriage is a truly ancient institution that predates recorded history. But early marriage was seen as a strategic alliance between families, with the youngsters often having no say in the matter. In some cultures, parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds."(2)
As we find ourselves fast-forwarding to a modern age of marriage, more men and women are now free to marry for love and mutually compatible companionship. We've had at least half a century of marrying for love and now we are realizing some things that many scientists and journalists claimed a long time ago ... monogamy isn't for everybody, and those who have the patience to work through it must be very patient.
As Albert Einstein famously noted in his letters, "I am sure you know that most men (as well as quite a number of women) are not monogamously endowed by nature."(3)
Let's not confuse marital unhappiness with a lack of successful marriages or the dismissal of marriage as an institution. Many people are very happy tying the knot and working towards a life partnership, but monogamy is by no means for everybody and as Douglas LaBier writes in the Huffington Post, an affair is a pretty okay solution.
"That is, an affair can provide feelings of affirmation and restore vitality, and can activate courage to leave the marriage when doing so is the healthiest path."(4)
7 Reasons why married women are having affairs
1. Open non-monogamy
As early research suggests, couples who agree to open relationships/marriages or polyamorous dating arrangements are likely to be more open and honest with each other about their deepest needs. The study conducted by Bjarne Holmes and his team at the Champlain College in Vermont finds that open communication is the key to all of this.
"People in these relationships really communicate. They communicate to death [...] They're talking a lot, they're negotiating a lot, they're bringing their feelings to the table a lot."(5)
Of course, this can be an extremely difficult topic to bring up if you're already in a committed relationship that has adopted more conservative values. However, it might really be worth the married dating talk to save your marriage. Polyamory might be an option worthy of consideration in many marriages.
2. Women handle loneliness differently than men
While men and masculinity in general is associated with suppressing feelings of loneliness, the stereotype for women is that they have no problem expressing their lack of connection. There's that old expression if a woman isn't expressing her lack of concern to her spouse, she's given up.
A study published by the 'Journal of Personality and Social Psychology' found that men felt less lonely when surrounded a big friend group, whereas women identified loneliness with a lack of personal connection - Of course this is the type of connection that takes hard, diligent effort and work to nurture a blossoming marriage.
"It is suggested that men may use more group-oriented criteria in evaluating loneliness, whereas women focus more on the qualities of [one-on-one] relationships,"(6) as the anonymous authors suggest.
In experiencing such an empty relationship, other than a potential divorce, a woman could be very well justified in seeking a discreet connection.
3. Sexual Exploration
We are all wired differently when it comes to matters of the libido. Somewhere along our communal decision making process, we decided that sexual preference and needs need to be managed in a neat and tidy monogamous box.
People who don't feel this way are raising a giant middle finger to such restraints. Of course people want to explore sex and monogamy can be one way to go about it, but what happens when monotony and bland repetition of personality and circumstance represses desire for exploration? In such cases, perhaps the alternative of an affair becomes incredibly viable and actionable. Psalm Isadora, a leader in women's health, writes to empower the needs of women with a more adventurous libido.
"Sexuality exists on a spectrum, after all. We're all full of natural, primal desires. When dealing with sexuality, no matter how you like to express yours, the most important thing is to be authentic. When you ask yourself, 'What do I really want? What do I really need?' What does your truth tell you?"(7)
4. Sexual frustration
Fact, many couples lose all sexual satisfaction after years and years of monogamous marriage. There seems to be a double standard between men and women in a sexless marriage, that is, men are inclined to pursue an extramarital affair to meet their own needs and women should suck it up and stay loyal. For married women whose needs are no longer met, this is grossly unfair.
"Some women feel that they have landed in a rut and that their life has become predictable and boring. A new relationship can seem like an exciting way to get a buzz." Furthermore, Milrad says that these women never lose their love for their partner, "The secretiveness, the sneaking around, the sexual passion can create a high with the release of all those feel-good hormones. These women often compartmentalize and tell themselves that this affair does not detract from their love for their partner."(8)
5. Emotional Neglect
Sarah Cook Ruggera, a marriage and family therapist told 'EverydayHealth' that women are more tempted to cheat when emotional neglect or distance exists in their marriage. "In many cases of infidelity, it is about feeling emotionally connected to someone."(9)
Indeed, this is the stereotypical answer to women being unfulfilled, completely ignoring the fact that women are highly sexual creatures. Never the less, for more sensitive and attached women, not having a rock solid emotional connection with her partner can create doubts and introduce temptations for those that identify as lonely housewives.
6. Revenge Cheating
'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.' This one is obvious and goes into the dynamics of a woman who has been hurt by her partner and is feeling intense emotional pain and betrayal. Naturally, there is an outlet to pursue a 'get him back' affair in an effort to return the medicine. In an exposé on revenge cheating, ABC News talked to Patti Britton, a Beverley Hills sex therapist, about this tactic to restore the balance in a rocky relationship. "It is very common, although not always a conscious deliberate choice or action."(10)
7. Tech Temptations
This one is more all-encompassing of the above examples and acts for as an outlet and a resource. Some might even argue that sexting or cyber cheating isn't actually cheating at all and just stimulates a part of the brain that is related to sexual desire. Of course with affair apps like Ashley Madison, there is more potential and opportunity to understand and fulfill the desires that are missing. Dr. Marion Goertz, a registered marriage and family therapist in Toronto says there are real urges at play here. "Women tend to be more likely to be hooked on cybersex that includes conversation and some modicum of relationship."(11)
"A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short." ~ Andre Maurois
There you have it, married women have very real needs that must be talked about and addressed for the sake of society's well-being. No more taboos, no more misogamy, no more judgments - just a real conversation.