Understanding Marital Infidelity

TOUCH Family Life

Understanding Marital Infidelity

“I do… till death do us part”. A trusted promise of your significant other, and yet somehow now broken. Infidelity is a reality that some married couples may experience, yet few may comprehend how it could have happened to them. TOUCH Family Life sheds some light on this issue.


Infidelity is commonly understood as having a sexual affair with another person, but it might happen much earlier than the moment of ‘being caught in the act’. If someone is seeking to meet their emotional needs with others and not their own spouse, and if the spouse is kept in the dark, it could be an indication of emotional infidelity. An individual may be emotionally invested in someone else when he or she starts sharing spousal difficulties with that other person, or develops special rituals or practices with this ‘friend’. Rather than talk to their spouse, they would save topics of conversation for that ‘friend’ because they feel more understood by him or her.


There are many reasons for infidelity.  For some, a reason to cheat is the need to boost their self-image or sexual self-esteem. For others, it may be a longing for love and tenderness that they aren’t getting in their marriage.

Here are some other reasons for infidelity.

  • Boredom and over-familiarity

    • Some may feel a lack of marital satisfaction after years of marriage and look for excitement in ‘living another life’ when they cheat with another person. They may also commit adultery out of curiosity to know what life might be like out of marriage, or may simply be ‘risk-seekers’ wanting to experience the thrill of a secret relationship.  

  • Lack of communication and understanding

    • Partners who feel like they cannot relate to their spouse anymore may look for someone who fulfills that need. Not having open communication creates misunderstandings and feelings of distrust and frustration, which might lead to an unhealthy sense of inadequacy in a spouse.

  • Inadequacy, and lack of appreciation and affection

    • An unfaithful spouse might have felt unappreciated and unloved due to the lack of affirmation from their significant other. They might even think that they are inadequate and undesirable as a partner, driving them to find their ‘worth’ with the person they cheat with.

  • Stress, overwhelmed feelings over parenting, in-law or financial issues
    • Parents, especially in their early years, can feel that their roles as the ‘adults’ in the family have taken away the rest of their identity. They may also feel inadequate while trying to live up to the responsibilities placed on them and see infidelity as a way of escape. They may also have unprocessed grief from the loss of a loved one or may be experiencing stressful life transitions such as a promotion at work, being a caregiver or pregnancy.

  • Weak boundaries with the opposite-sex
    • Perhaps the biggest reason for infidelity might be a case of letting one's guard down. Not having clear physical and emotional boundaries with the opposite sex, set either by themselves or with their spouse, might lead to them being caught in situations where they might find themselves being vulnerable and intimate with the opposite sex.

If you feel that you might be at risk of an affair, this may be a good time to reflect on these reasons and halt things before it’s too late. There’s still a chance to be honest with your feelings and communicate this to your spouse. If you would like to speak with a counsellor, TOUCH Family Services is here to help. Contact us at 6709 8400 or [email protected] to find out about our counselling services.

TOUCH Family Services aims to build strong and fulfilling families, and promote the well-being of individuals and families in need. It impacts over 12,500 families and individuals each year through family-based services and programmes, and strives to provide a holistic integrated service to serve the needs of every person and family at every stage of their lives.