An extramarital affair is a relationship outside marriage in which married parties engage in sexual activities, romantic relationships or friendships, or passionate attachment with other partners other than their marriage partners. An extramarital affair that continues in a certain form or another through several years even when one of the partners passes through marriage divorce and remarriage again can as well be considered to be the primary relationship and marriage secondary to it. Certainly this can be viewed as a serial polygamy or other forms of non-monogamy. Extramarital affairs pass for deviant behavior since it goes against what is expected of married people. Something deviant is anything that goes against the norms of the society. Premarital sex certainly goes against the norms of the society and is seen as a deviation form the norm thus deviant be behavior.
Marriage relationships institutes one of the most significant frameworks for sexually values in the society. These societal values permit sexual activities only between the man and woman in a marriage relationship. Engaging in extramarital affair certainly goes against these norms.
Societal Perceptions of Extramarital Sex
The perception of extramarital sex varies from society to society. Some people describe extramarital sex as adulterous relationship while others consider it as having an affair. An affair may be accompanied by sex or may only involve a platonic romantic relationship. However, whether it doe involve sex or not, it is not right. It amount to selfishness to the part of those involved. Some people feel that dating without sex does not amount to extra marital affair, however the fact that those involved keep it secret from their spouses or marriage partners rises the question on whether it is right to keep up with such affairs. Certainly, it is not right, and those involve keep it as a secrete because they know the reaction such information would enlist from their spouses. Such affairs are an act of unfaithfulness, yet it is faithfulness that is supposed to keep up and sustain marriages.
The ability to start and sustain a clandestine and serial extramarital affair and safeguard the secrets and any conflicts of interests that may occur requires one to be very skillful at duplicitous negotiation and deception. Handing affairs further requires malicious gas lighting. All this are deviant behaviors known as cheating.
Historical and Legal Perspective
Legal and social institutions have fro many year discourages extramarital affaires since they were a major recipe from adultery. For instance, Emperor Augustus, in 18 BC, had his attention turned on various social problems that faced the Roman Empire. Extravagance and extramarital affairs and sex were widespread more so among the elites. Marrying was no longer common to the elites and those who married consistently failed to bring forth offspring. In order to improve morality in his empire and increase the population, he enacted various laws to encourage marriage and child bearing (Clinaed and Meier, 303).
The new law also described adultery as a crime and it was punishable by exile and confiscation of property. According to the new law fathers could kill their daughters and partners due to adultery. Husbands could divorce their wives who are found to be adulterous. Augustus himself invoked the law against his daughter, Julia and sent her to exile in the island of Pandateria. This incidence clearly illustrates how extramarital was perceived in during Augustus time. This perception can never change give n the negative social effects of premarital affairs, therefore adultery remains a major deviant social behavior that should be discouraged. For instance, a governor in America was forced to step down due to adultery (Brown, and Dewan)
Clearly, deception is covert manipulation of perception to temper with feelings, ideas, values or thoughts. Presence of deception in any instance in a relationship indicates the extent to which the deceiver has infringed on the values of fidelity, transparency and the reciprocal of vulnerability. This intimate relation ship outside marriage amount to adultery and can result into persecution and punishment by the law. According to a publication by the Associated Press in the New York Time three women were punished for engaging in extramarital sex in Malaysia through caning. This was quite crude but such is necessary to enforce norms.
Since the Augustus time, the extent to which societies can tolerate adultery has change considerably. No society can give its members absolute freedom to engage in extramarital affairs. Unfortunately, some tolerate such kind of liaisons that encourage adultery.
Cause of Extramarital Effairs
The reason for engaging in this deviant behavior however varies from one society to another. However the variance between societies is not as great as the variance between members of various genders. The members of various genders seem to have various issues that encourage them to try out extramarital affairs despite maintaining marriages. According to a playboy survey, many women engage in extramarital affairs because such affairs are a source of reassurance of their desirability. Some want better sex while others feel that it is worthwhile having a change of routine or having a variety of sax. The women also find sex without commitment to be very enticing. More females than males would also participate in extramarital sex for emotional satisfaction (Clinaed and Meier, 304).
Conversely, men on the other hand state their main reason for involvement in extramarital sex as need for sexual variety. The other reason in order of the contribution include the need of reassurance of their desirability, desire for change from the usual routine, the need for better sex and sex without commitment.
There also great disparities when it comes to ages of the people involved in extramarital sex. Young people are more permissive and rare more likely to tolerate premarital sex than older people (Rossi, 117). Despite the fact that people from all social classes participate in extramarital sex, those who belong to the middleclass with higher educational achievement have more permissive attitudes towards these misconduct. Certainly, this illustrates the participant in this deviant behavior vary from faithful married people in various aspect.
Various studies have depicted dissatisfaction in marriage as a major case of this vice. A good link also exists between the participation in the act with the permissiveness and approval of the affairs by acquaintances and friends. Therefore, if a person hangs out with friends who participate in such affairs is likely to participate in extramarital affairs. Extramarital affairs can also be fueled buy physical opportunities such separation between married people.
Extramarital sex could as well indicate signs of sex addiction. As such sexual addiction is a condition that the society abhors. Societal norms that encourage sex within the institution of marriage only allow involvement in the act if both partners are willing to have sex. In cases where once of the partners is a sex addict, it becomes very difficult for her or him to get satisfied with the sex they get in the marriage. The addict may turn to extra marital sex as a perfect alternative to their desires. Thus desires are not normal according to most societies and thus their outcome can’t meet the societal standards or values (Roiphe).
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Effects of Extramarital Affairs
It however, becomes very difficult to handle the situation when the partner that is cheated discovers that infidelity of his or her spouse. The feel betrayed by the person the loved most. The norms that seek to prevent extramarital affairs seek to prevent such feelings of betrayal and pain to the partners that are cheated on. While working with couples, psychotherapists encounter cases of betrays with great frequency. As Whisman and Wager (183) concur, in one of the greatest community studies ever conducted in 1994, 21% of men admitted to having participated in extramarital affairs. This was two times greater that that of women which stood at 11%. Studies the employ expanded definitions of extramarital affair find large numbers of people admitting to have participated in these affairs. In many cases clinicians do not identify don not recognize extramarital affairs role in difficulties experience by couples.
Extramarital affairs negatively affect the society. Many marriages have broken up due to infidelity by one partner and sometimes both. When such affairs are unearthed, the betrayed partners feel that their trust has been betrayed as well. As such, they may never be able to trust their partners again and some may never be able to trust any one as a partner again. Ironical, some partners turn to extramarital affairs to get even. However, punishing a wrong with another wrong is not right. Partners seek divorce despite the negative effects it may have on their children.
In these cases, children suffer consequences of an act they were not party to. It would be interesting to find out whether thought of such consequences ever cross the minds of the adulterers when they engage in these affairs. Most of he betrayed partners require psychotherapy to overcome the emotional upsurge caused by the discovery of their partner’s affairs. According to Whisman and Wager (183) discovery of infidelity is similar trauma in the life of a couple. The experience felt endured by the betrayed partner is similar to the experienced by post traumatic patients. The victims experience symptoms such as irritability and outbursts, sleep disturbance, exaggerated startle response, hyper vigilance, difficulty in concentrating and recurrent intrusive thought convening the affair.
Extramarital affair also expose the participants to venereal diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Many couples have contacted such diseases and died due to the infidelity of one partner (Tráen and Stigum, 41). For instance, numerous cases of HIV have been recorded among the immigrant community of Mexican men who take the opportunity of being away from their spouses to participate in extramarital affairs. Evidently the society had appointed when it adopted norms that discourage extramarital affairs.
However, in societies that are so permissive extramarital affairs may not be considered deviant as such. For instance, in societies where men are encouraged to have multiple sexual partners’ extramarital affair are welcomed. The marital partners or spouses of such men know better than to expect their men to be faithful. They thus have to put up with their mens’ infidelity despite their disapproval of the behavior. For instance, the conception of masculinity and feminine ideas among the immigrant men of Mexican origin encourages them to participate in extramarital sex a phenomenon that has been attributed to the increase in the cases of HIV among this immigrant community (Muguel et al, 23).
The ideal of sexual liberation the have swept across the western countries, have encouraged extramarital marital sex in this parts of the world. Such concept as sex revolution fetter monogamous marriages. Currently, concepts such as open marriages, swapping or swinging are practiced by many couples. With the advent of such concepts extramarital affairs become more common and widespread.
Certainly, extramarital behavior is deviant behavior. It doe not conform to the societal norms. In most cases those who participate is extramarital affairs are always after self gratification. Take the example of a sex addict who is interested in finding ways of dealing with his or her high libido that is incomparable to that of their partners. The participant does not care what their partners’ opinion and feeling about the issues are. Self seeking attitudes and behaviors are not encouraged in the society since they are considered deviant. In fact, all the reasons for extramarital affairs have an underlying need for self gratification. As such, adultery being a product of activities and desires considered to be deviant should also be considered as being deviant.
Also, from the moral perspective, extramarital sex can be considered to deviant since the moral codes that govern human relationships directly condemn the act. Extramarital sex is a kind of heterosexual deviance behavior in humans. Sex is considered to be and self-governing powerful force. Sexual deviant behavior further considers sex to be a natural force that is unstoppable by nature, like the flow of water. People have to reckon with sexual desire or grapple with it.