Obsessing over a partner's infidelity is a natural response to the trauma of discovery. Most individuals find themselves unable, at times, to stop turning over in their minds the lies,…
Of all of the people who show up for therapy struggling with some aspect of an affair, those in the infatuation, pre-affair (or maybe emotional affair) stage are the least likely to appear. This is such an important decision, you’d think one would seek assistance in reflecting on the implications of taking such a step. In fact, I expect that this post will generate many less readers than others I have written. Why is that? (more…)
The revelation of an affair is frequently a shocking experience.
In long-term relationships the fidelity of one’s partner is, more often than not, taken for granted, providing an emotional foundation for the couple. Trust and a sense of security rest on this foundation. Strength is derived from this secure bond. This strength enables each partner to function relatively smoothly in the world, and to be open to new and growthful experiences that life offers.
If either partner has a history of having been at the effect of infidelity, betrayal, deceit or abandonment, either by previous partners or during childhood, things can be more complicated. The sense of security with a partner takes longer to develop, or may only partially develop. For these individuals the revelation of an affair can be their worst nightmare come true. In order to protect themselves they might caution… “if you ever have an affair, it’s over.” In these cases, (more…)
In order to help yourself when you can’t stop thinking about the affair, it is important to understand the different functions obsessing can serve in your healing process.
My first and most important piece of advice is to try to stop beating yourself up for those times when you can’t stop going over the details, questions, lies, or things that just don’t add up, over and over again. (For more about lying click here.) It is important to understand that this is a completely natural and normal response to trauma, something that almost everyone in your situation experiences and that it is also (more…)
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…)
It can be completely crazy-making to feel like you cannot get at the truth. Something doesn’t feel right between the two of you, he’s not around as much as he used to be, not as interested in you. You suspect he might be seeing someone else. You demand he look you straight in the eye and tell you this isn’t so. He does. Can you be certain you now know?
Not according to (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…)
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…)
Can you? Is this possible? Many writers present plans that are supposed to be near fool-proof. Some are aimed at husbands; some are aimed at wives. Do this, be that way, and you can prevent your partner from straying. It’s appealing, and, on the whole, (more…)