These feelings signify equity and balance in a relationship and secure the bond between the partners. Equally important is the need for effective communication of these feelings because without it, a rift can develop.
If not reversed, the link between partners is at risk of being lost. Thus the greatest threat to intimacy is not exposure to attractive people of the opposite sex, but the inability of a couple to feel and communicate their connectedness to each other.
The circumstances that contribute to the fracturing of the intimate bond are diverse but most often involve transferring emotional energy that was once directed toward the relationship to other sources such as career, children, outside interests and friends. While good relationships can weather temporary emotional absences, if they go on indefinitely, they too will suffer.
Under these conditions people may reconnect emotionally and spiritually with someone outside of their relationship by once again fulfilling their needs for acceptance and understanding.
Relationships such as these often begin benignly but may later evolve by becoming sexual. This pattern is most typical of "affairs of the heart", affairs that pose the greatest threat to the primary relationship.
So while sex may be the object of a partner's scorn, it is really the breakdown of communication and the ultimate severing of a bond that once existed that is really at stake. In essence, the betrayal that is attached to sexual infidelity may have already occurred long before on an emotional and spiritual level.
Thus, while it may be one partner who strays outside the relationship, the responsibility for making it work remains the responsibility of both.
And while a person may claim that he or she was blind to anything in his or her partner's behavior that may have signaled a breach in intimacy, this in itself suggests that he or she is out of touch with the respective needs of each other. The effects of affairs can be devastating and there are no quick and easy fixes to repair the damage.
However, if both partners are motivated, then patience, honesty and the skills of a professional can help the couple explore whether it is possible to reconstruct the once existed.
About the Author: A feature article by Dr. Reena, Nov 26, 2003