It's much more difficult to make your way back from a betrayal of intimate feelings than to try to refresh a marriage that may have become flat and distant. When you ignore anxiety-inducing thoughts like "I feel stuck—I wish I could run off and have fun or I feel old and dumpy—if only someone would make me feel young and sexy again," you cannot examine or deal with them in a productive manner. Instead, you unwittingly act them out, with potentially devastating results. Any good relationship takes an investment of time, effort, and emotional energy. What few people want to accept is that we can all become Sharon and Robert, and that marriage, while potentially tremendously gratifying, is always a work in progress.
If you had been unfaithful to your mate, who could you count on to keep your secrets?
Gail Saltz is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York–Presbyterian Hospital, and the author of Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie (Morgan Road).