Why Don’t I Want to Apologize for the Affair? Part II: Beliefs

Everyone has their own personal beliefs about affairs.  These beliefs can stem from how we saw adults around us behaving with each other during our childhood.  They can stem from how our parents and other relatives talked about and regarded affairs, from the particular culture you grew up in, and your religious upbringing and beliefs.  Sometimes beliefs about affairs are really rationalizations that allow the affair to go on.  If you really believe these things, than you don’t feel that you should have to apologize and you may be truly shocked at how traumatized your partner is upon discovery.  Janis Abrahms Spring lists some beliefs that justify affairs (and I’ve added a few of my own):

It’s okay if I truly love the other person.

It’s okay if it’s just for sex and my partner remains the most important person to me.

It’s okay as long as we don’t actually have sex.

What my partner doesn’t know won’t hurt him or her.

A one-night stand (more…)

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How to Help Your Partner Heal From Your Affair

The discovery of an affair is traumatic for everyone involved. However, there are important things you can do to help your partner heal over time.

It can be useful to think about trauma as something that actually wants to heal.  If provided with the appropriate conditions, it frequently does. Your partner  probably feel that his or her  world,  life,  identity, and  marriage has been shattered.  Natural reactions  include feeling betrayed, panicked, rageful and vengeful, and ultimately very deep, and previously unimaginable pain. I frequently hear “the ground opened up under me,” or (more…)

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How Does Your Culture Affect Your Beliefs About Affairs?

The following discussion is not meant to imply that all members of a particular culture experience affairs in any particular way.

Extramarital affairs are most frequently experienced as completely traumatic and immoral in the United States. If a public figure strays from their marriage they are frequently disgraced and followers and fans can feel tremendously let down and disillusioned. If this person holds public office, their capacity to lead is frequently questioned, as is their entire character. A spouse who discovers a partner’s affair frequently breaks down emotionally.

In some European countries (more…)

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Lesbian Love Affairs

Patterns and nuances in affairs do differ depending on sexual orientation. The following discussion about lesbians and affairs describes some of these themes, however, these are generalizations and do not necessarily apply to any one couple.

Emotional ties play a central role in most women’s lives. Nature and nurture both contribute to this. For example, research shows (more…)

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What is an Emotional Affair?

Emotional affair? I thought affairs meant extramarital sex!

He tells me they’re just friends. Am I wrong to be concerned?

Can’t I have friends of the opposite sex?

Isn’t it better to give them a long leash?

Emotional affairs have become a hot topic in the last several years, resulting in much needed clarity for some and complete confusion for others. Conflicts arise in couples where one person’s friendship with someone else leaves their partner feeling neglected and angry, but also confused and uncertain about how to respond. “After all, they’re just business associates having lunch. I shouldn’t be so possessive.”  In the U.S., jealousy is frequently seen as a negative character trait.  This leads many to try to deny the experience of jealousy even when there might be good reason. (more…)

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How Do Affairs Affect Children Part III: Infants and Toddlers

This is the third in a series of posts addressing children and affairs. In Part I, I described the effects affairs can have on children; in Part II, I addressed the question of whether or not to disclose the affair to your children and started to discuss ways of doing this that are most helpful. Here I focus specifically on your relationship with your infant or toddler around the time of disclosure.

Unfortunately, the intensity of feeling betrayed and humiliated by your partner can make it difficult to care about anything or anyone else. I have heard many stories of outraged discoverers of affairs holding a screaming baby (more…)

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How Do Affairs Affect Children? (Part II): Should We Tell Our Children?

Your Role as Parents

No matter how devastated you are, you are still faced with the task of keeping it together for the children. This can be a double-edged sword. The immediacy and sometimes enormity of children’s’ needs can function as a welcome distraction from the pain you are in on the one hand; on the other, you may be feeling depleted emotionally and physically and not have much to give. With regard to the latter, it is very tempting to then turn to the children for support, which is a role reversal that is, in the end damaging for children. Whatever you end up disclosing to your child, the overall message should be, (more…)

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Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?

I came across an interesting statistic recently; 25% of relationships that start as affairs succeed. “Succeed” is defined as the couple staying together, rather than by the quality of the relationship.   I was surprised by the statistic.   If I had to guess, I would have thought the figure to be much lower. (For an update on this statistic go to “Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed? Revisited”). But a statistic is just that, and doesn’t tell you anything about any particular situation.

Feeling torn between two lovers can be an agonizing experience. Besides the guilt, and fear of discovery, there is usually some degree of awareness that sooner or later one of those relationships will end.  Trying to decide which one would be the most painful to lose  may lead some to wonder what the chances are that a relationship that starts off as an affair will succeed. (more…)

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About Affairs

I am setting up this blog because I find myself increasingly moved by the efforts of my clients who chose to work through the devastating effects of affairs, whether individually, or in couples and by the profoundly deepening connections that this work can bring, almost as if the couple is discovering each other for the first time. I would like to create a space where those concerned with extramarital or extra-relationship affairs can learn about them and share their own thoughts and feelings. I will join in with comments also, as well as more extensive entries. However, I cannot provide any advice or analysis for individual situations on this site. I am a psychotherapist in Walnut Creek with 27 years of experience in private practice.

To start, you may wonder how prevalent extramarital affairs are. Unfortunately, there are no good answers, as studies conducted on the frequency of occurrence in marriages show results ranging from 15 – 75%! The data also shows (more…)

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