Below is my response to an article from a couple of years ago on the question. It is one that is getting asked more and more frequently these days as marriage itself as an institution is being challenged. As a sociologist and a psychotherapist, I see this challenge as a very positive turn of events. Intention is everything, I often say, and far too many people have jumped into marriage and parenting with a negative intention - i.e. - to satisfy the demands of their egos, images and societal conventions.

Here's my edited comments:

If we’re talking about having “an affair,” as in having sex and romantic interludes with someone outside of your marriage and keeping it a secret, then we’re talking about unactualized behavior and a limited level of consciousness.


Well, implied by the secrecy aspect of the scenario is that there is some dissatisfaction in the marriage that hasn’t been addressed over time, which means there is a limited level of honesty and open communication between the spouses, which is unactualized behavior.

On the other hand, if the purported reason for the secrecy is “structural” – i.e. - to keep the “intact family” intact, then what you’re describing is a household without Eros. There might be love all around, but a marriage without Eros does not provide a healthy environment for either spouses or children to live in.

Moving towards the so-called “open marriage” scenarios, well... polyamory is certainly a valid life-choice, and an interesting way to engage in relationships, but once you’ve played that hand out (usually before middle age, if you're developing normally), a self-actualized individual will inevitably gravitate towards the rich mine of “spontaneous monogamy,” (as opposed to the contractual kind) in order to have that ultimate experience of love, Eros and sex focused like a laser through one person meeting you at the same of intensity.

Deep levels of self-revelation, which deepen, sustain and expand the experience of love, Eros and sex, takes time and focus. The “free sample” of falling in love, be it in an affair or otherwise, is exactly that – a free sample. To really cash in, you have to do the self-work necessary to keep the channels open to your inner self and to your partner's inner life.

Regarding affairs or polyamory, some participants in extramarital explorations worry about the consequences - i.e. - “What happens if my partner falls in love? This would be a betrayal of the deal, no?”


Betrayal only starts with betrayal of yourself, from denying yourself fulfillment, from not having the will to tell your partner that you might be dissatisfied with some aspects of your marriage, or even that you’re having feelings for someone else. Some well-timed “havoc” is very often what saves a marriage and a family from a life of hunkering down into masochism, martyrdom and unhappiness.

And there’s no valid reason that raising kids, pursuing careers, or getting older has to kill the Eros, either, folks. It's all about the honesty and exposure, and it's all worth it!

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