You might be surprised at how upset your partner is about your affair. The amount of rage directed at you can be overwhelming. Your spouse’s depression and withdrawal may be highly anxiety provoking. Although you both might want to work it out, you can find yourselves tossed about in a turbulent sea of emotions. You may feel desperate for a way to fix things, (more…)
During the traumatic throes of the discovery of an affair, finding the right label, and therefore, singular explanation may feel like a life preserver.
As you read through books and web sites, you’ve probably noticed that almost everyone who writes about affairs has some way of categorizing them. Here are some common examples:
“intimacy avoiding”, “anger avoiding”, “romantic”, “exit,” “split self” “availability,” “alcoholic,” “retaliation, “revenge,” “sexual,” “culturally enabled,” “emotional,” “sex addiction,” proving you’re still attractive,” “can’t say no,””….
However, in my experience, this is only a good start, rather than the final word. Most affairs do not have a singular motive, or cause, but are multi-determined, frequently one piece in a complex puzzle. Understanding this enables couples to be more interested in the whole picture, and lessens the need for blame/shame dynamics.
Let’s use John as an example. (This story is not representative of any particular client that I have seen. Rather it is a composite based on my experience with hundreds of individuals and couples.)
John’s affair started months after his wedding and continued for years.
John had secretly been (more…)
“Men weren’t really the enemy – – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill” Betty Friedan, Christian Science Monitor, April 1974
“Mad Men” portrays this “mystique” … women as subordinate and submissive, housewives, maybe secretaries, always standing behind their men, and only able to derive status from their husbands’ positions. The women who dared to deviate from this arrangement paid dearly (as did the women who submitted to it).
It appeared that men had it all… power, control, status, in general..superiority.
But Don Draper (more…)
It might seem like the questions will never stop, or that there are no answers that can satisfy. However, there is a kind of “healing intelligence” behind these questions, and they usually occur in roughly the following sequence. Although there can be more than one motivation for asking a question, a bit of introspection will reveal the core of what you are searching for.
Shock: “How could you do this!?” “How could this have happened!?” “Do you have any idea what you have done to me?” These first questions frequently are the emotional equivalent of shaking your partner by the shoulders as (more…)
You’re all over the place emotionally; enraged, hurt, humiliated, terrified and very confused. How could this have happened? It couldn’t have. But it did! But it couldn’t have. This can’t be real. It happens to other people. But it did happen. It happened to us! But it couldn’t have…
You might start to wonder what you did to cause this. The answer is you didn’t cause it. But still… (more…)
you remind him, glaring. And so begins many courses of marriage counseling.
It’s a predicament. You’ve just found out you’ve been betrayed in the one way you vowed you would never tolerate. This is awful enough. But the idea of breaking a vow that you made to yourself, as well as your partner can be making you feel (more…)
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…)
Whether you are the other person, the discoverer, or the discovered, virtually all of your relationships have been altered by the affair.
Especially at first, the impulse to keep the affair a secret is usually very strong. Certainly, the person having the affair doesn’t want anyone to know, and the secrecy can even add excitement to the affair relationship. However, if you are feeling conflicted about the affair, it may be painful (more…)
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…)