To all those men and women who are in an empty marriage, who feel lonely and unloved, who crave the touch of someone else because they haven't been touched by their spouse in months, maybe years: You wake up each day and perform the roles you signed up for -- mother, father, breadwinner, taxi driver of your children, cook, housekeeper -- only to go to bed each night feeling unfulfilled, loathing another monotonous day tomorrow.
To battle the monotony, you renovate your kitchen, buy a puppy, have another baby, look for a new house or buy a new car.
But still, after the third child, new kitchen or that fancy sports car in your garage, you still feel empty. Something is missing.
And that's when he or she comes along, just in time, to save you. It starts with a smile, then a conversation where it feels like you've known each other for years. You text each other, and pretend it's just friendly banter. You agree to meet, just for coffee, just for one hour, but that one hour turns into many more.
This is what you've been missing, you think to yourself. You begin to compare him or her to your spouse, and this new potential lover represents everything you don't have in your marriage.
In just a few months, you're now in love with this person, more so than you ever have been with anyone. It escalates quickly, and soon you are faced with the unimaginable place of having to choose between your lover and your spouse.
This new relationship has given you a sense of purpose, of which you were never able to achieve alone. You feel like you count. Your efforts mean something. You feel accomplished and you see a return on your investment. Of all your projects, this one is where you feel the most valued.
But I'd like to let you in on a little secret: This relationship is doomed.
As long as you continue to rely on someone else to give you a sense of purpose and belonging, no relationship will ever work out. So ask yourself, "Have I found my purpose in life?" Do you have dreams and desires outside of a relationship that have yet to be fulfilled? Until you find your purpose, you will never be happy in any relationship.
In my coaching practice, I have worked with women who have cheated or are about to cheat, and their initial reason for the cheating is blamed on their sexless, loveless marriage. However, when I ask them what energizes them outside of a relationship, they soon discover a missing link. They feel lost and misguided, and ultimately use another person's attention to replace the void within.
So often we don't give ourselves permission to dream big or take risks -- to go after that dream job, or start a business of our own. We don't feel safe or secure to vocalize that one thing we've always wanted to do -- and thus, we feel stuck. Some remain stuck and unhappy, but for others, they find a relationship to give them a sense of purpose.
In a recent Huffington Post blog, a woman confessed of her cheating as a "40-something suburban mom." The comments were relentless, calling her a "coward" or "selfish." But I would ask those commenters who throw stones: Is your life truly fulfilled? Is your only sense of purpose to judge others and be a virtual critic? If so, then how are you any different from the woman whom you call a coward?
Yes, cheating is terrible, and nor do I ever condone it. But it's not so much a cowardly act but rather an act of one trying to find his or her purpose. Rarely is it about the spouse being cheated on, or the lover with whom they are cheating. (This does not apply for when the cheater is a sex addict or suffers from behavior disorders such as narcissism.)
If you are tempted to cheat, go find yourself first -- volunteer for a good cause, climb Mt. Everest, start that business you've always wanted, try salsa dancing, do something that energizes you. Whatever you choose, you will find more love, passion and purpose from your creations, than from any lover lying next to you. More importantly, you will avoid hurting others and yourself.