Local phycologists and life coaches weighed in on the sweet-hearting phenomenon in The Bahamas, noting that the reason for this culturally accepted practice cannot be readily defined.
Therapist and Life Coach Harrison Thompson, said while men might “step-out” of a marriage for sexual satisfaction, for women it is much deeper than that.
“I believe that when women begin to practice extra-marital affairs they have left the marriage long before that. They are searching for something deeper than sex. It is more about an emotional connection for them to fill a void that was seriously lacking by their spouse.”
Thompson has counselled dozens of couples facing challenges and always encourages, if nothing else, forgiveness.
“When we are able to let go of the pain and the hurt, we are then able to move on with our lives,” Thompson stressed. “For many couples they are not able to bounce back but for some they are able to forgive and get back together.”
Phycologist Kirkland Pratt said while he believes the reasons for sweet-hearting are far ranging, it is most likely for excitement or in some instances to fill a position that many feel are lacking.
“For some its generational,” he explained. “We come from a culture where our grandfathers had two families and if caught, in some instances everyone acted like this was normal as long as the man continued to take care of the two families.”
Pratt said this has led to a degradation of the family where the term “bastard child,” comes into play.
“We have parents trying to make up for their children through private school and gifts and other treats, but the child continues to feel like an outsider….they don’t carry their fathers last name and they never feel as if they are included.”
Local Pastor Bishop Walter Hanchell admitted to practicing sweet-hearting in the past. It’s something that he said he regrets.
“I know all too well the damage that it can do and how it can destroy a family,” Hanchell said. “Sometimes the wife isn’t aware until the man dies and the outside children come looking for an inheritance. It causes heartache and pain.”
He is encouraging those that are married to remain faithful, despite the challenges.
“Not every day you are going to be head over heels or in love with your wife or husband. The great success stories are those who are able to work through the issues without seeking the comforts of another; that’s the real love story.”
At last report from the Department of Statistics, 1 out of every 5 marriages in The Bahamas end in divorce.