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Is excitement worth losing a marriage over?

By Lisa Brinkworth | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-05 14:59

Boredom is driving a rise in affairs, but the fallout may trump the reward

Editor's Note: Names in bold have been changed.

Last year, Kate, 43, finally felt her life was complete. She had three children in private schools, a six-bedroom house in Berkshire and a substantial income. Most importantly she had her husband, Matt to share it all with.

The couple had been married for eighteen years, and unlike many of their friends, still had an active sex life. Plus, they shared the same values that had brought them together in the first place - or so Kate thought until the end of January, when Matt announced he was moving out.

"I was in shock," Kate says. "He left me for someone he'd known for just four weeks. She apparently gives him the excitement that I can't."

While she'd tried to be the perfect wife and mother - giving up her career, so Matt could climb to the position of CEO - Kate was no longer the risk-taker who used to scuba-dive and knock back tequilas until dawn. "When you have children that all changes. He wanted the freedom to up and run wherever the mood took us, but it wasn't practical. His new partner's children have flown the nest, so she's free to share adventures with him".

As the new year dawns, Kate's story might sound all too familiar to some. The first working days back after Christmas are known as 'divorce week' and are traditionally the busiest of the year for family lawyers. According to solicitors Irwin Mitchell, if you're married then there's a one in five chance that you're currently considering a split.

A rise in affairs

While research by - the UK's leading extra-marital dating website, which had 100,000 new members in the last 12 months alone - found that 2016 was the biggest year ever recorded for affairs. It would seem, then, that more of us are straying over to where the grass is greener.

Clinical psychologist, Oliver James, attributes this to couples who married young now feeling that they're missing out. "People become dissatisfied with their lot and want more. Or children become more important than the attraction to a spouse and this can cause resentment. But they often make the mistake of muddling up lust for love. The grass isn't necessarily greener."

Kate is certain that boredom caused Matt to abandon their family - in the same way he'd left his fianc��e for her, twenty years previously. "Back then I was an exciting prospect - young and ambitious," she explains. But a few weeks after they met that Matt dropped the bombshell: he was engaged.

"I gave him a year to sort himself out", says Kate. "A week later he turned up on my doorstep and told me that he'd broken it off."

After they married, Matt got a job in Scotland and persuaded Kate move there. She gave up her career and became a stay-at-home mum. "But almost immediately he started flirting with a woman at work. I could sense the sexual tension between them. So I decided to make myself the perfect wife, chilled and undemanding."

Kate says that was, with hindsight, a mistake.

"Two years ago, I realised something was wrong. For the first time in our lives we had everything we'd dreamed of and there was nothing left to strive for. He started picking fault with me. He wouldn't touch me and disappeared on business for days at a time. He was doing to me what he'd done to the fianc��e he'd left."

She calls Matt's decision to walk out on the family 'unforgivable'. "The children are devastated and the eldest is having counselling. At home they are clingy and tearful and their school work is affected."

A bored wife

Marcus, 47, was blindsided when his wife of fifteen years suddenly left him and their three children.

"I thought we were happy," he says. "But Fiona had grown bored of me. Our first child was born a few years into our marriage, when she was a partner at her city law firm and making all the money - her bonus was more than my salary - so we agreed she would go back to work and I would stay at home."

The couple had two more children and Marcus settled into the domestic role of "cook, cleaner and bottle-washer".

"I saw my sacrifice as an investment in our future together. What I didn't realise was that she'd grown tired of me. I wasn't the ambitious, sociable man she'd married, although I'd given up my life for her."

Shortly before they split, Marcus discovered that his wife had been in touch with her ex, also a high-flier, throughout their marriage. "She had me where she wanted me at home, while she was getting her excitement elsewhere."

Denise Knowles, a Relate counsellor, agrees that "when a marriage become stale, there's a tendency to look outside and think 'what's over there might be easier'."

She says that often, the husband or wife would rather seek stimulation elsewhere than confront such a difficult issue with their partner and cause upset. "Often things can be going along quite nicely and then one partner becomes drawn to external excitement, rather than admitting things have become staid and working at it. It would be so much better for them to communicate about what's making them bored and resolve the problem together, rather than deserting the marriage for some perceived thrill."

A sudden, irrevocable change

She could be talking about photographer, Andrew 52, who in "a moment of madness" walked out on his wife of fifteen years, Emily, and four children - an act he now struggles to understand. "Everything was fine, ticking over nicely. The kids were at the centre of our lives but I was bored.

"I started working with a young journalist who wasn't my type at all. But one thing led to another and I couldn't say no. I was intoxicated. Melanie was wild and her emails were full of innuendo, stimulating a part of my brain that had been closed down for years. She doesn't have children and is free as a bird.

"It was so seductive and an escape from the monotony of home. We were like naughty kids. In my mind I built up a whole new life with her - you don't stop to think of the consequences. I was so happy that I started telling everyone about us. I even confided in elder daughter because in my warped mind I thought she'd be pleased. Of course, she told her mother and I came home to find my bags packed."

Andrew moved in with Melanie and told his wife that he wasn't coming back. "She let out this primal wail that will echo in my head for the rest of my life. I knew I'd broken everything but like a spoilt child I followed my heart, and left Emily to deal with the mess".

Andrew soon found himself bored and promptly left Melanie for someone else. "It was another case of the grass being greener. Now I'm renting a one bedroom flat. I would give anything to be back in the family home, doing the school run and cooking supper. All the things you resent at the time are the things you end up missing.

"The enormity of what I've done is hard to live with. I've thrown everything away for a taste of something that didn't turn out to be as exciting as I'd thought.

"I have a miserable existence. Now I know what real boredom is and that the grass is never greener".

Is excitement worth losing a marriage over?

"It would be so much better for them to communicate about what's making them bored, rather than deserting the marriage for some perceived thrill."Provided To China Daily

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