The Need for Affairs
“I can’t get all my sexual needs met just by my wife. I need to be able to relate with other women. Outside sexual relationships bring spark and joy into my life, which I can then bring back to my wife.”
Barry and I heard these comments at a recent counseling session. As the man spoke, we noticed his wife hung her head. When we asked her how she was feeling, she replied that she loved her husband very much and didn’t want to stand in the way of his happiness. She assumed she needed to be more open and accepting of her husband’s needs. Her body language and the hesitancy in her voice, however, was evidence to her insecurity in the relationship. She was trying to open to her husband’s stated needs for sex outside the marriage in an attempt to keep the marriage together. His needs had become the priority. Her own feelings of insecurity, doubt and fear were pushed into the background. She assumed these feeling were blocking her husband’s growth and expansion.
We encouraged her to share her feelings, stressing how all her feelings were important. Hesitantly, she began to express her feelings of insecurity in relation to her husband’s behavior. This made him uncomfortable, so he again told her that she simply couldn’t meet all of his sexual needs.
Over the years, this type of scene has played out from time to time in our counseling or workshops. Sometimes it is the woman feeling too confined by the relationship and wanting outside sexual expression, sometimes it is the man. We have seen the same thing in same-gender relationships. The common denominator is the insecure feeling of the partner who does not want outside involvement. As long as one partner feels insecure, that relationship cannot thrive.
When there is trust, love and a quality of helping one another to feel valuable and special, then the relationship can soar to the highest heights. In this type of relationship, the thought of needing an outside affair to bring more spark is ridiculous. People only feel the need to have outside sexual affairs when they are not giving enough of themselves to their partner. People will do this when they are afraid of commitment, vulnerability or dependency. The need for an outside affair is a cover-up for these inside fears. The man’s comment of “you cannot meet all my sexual needs,” can be translated as, “I don’t want to look at my fears and so I cannot give all of myself to you or to me.” Each of us wants to feel special and valuable in a relationship. As two people are willing to look at their own inner fears, to share them openly with one another, they will create deeper trust and love. Then there will be no need for outside affairs.