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…)
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…)
“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…)
It can be confusing to know that you have betrayed your partner’s trust, to see him or her so devastated, and yet be unable to feel true remorse. This lack of remorse can be the final nail in the coffin of a marriage. You can see that it leaves your partner feeling more betrayed, enraged, disgusted, and/or withdrawn. You can see their panic and feel the tenuous threads holding you together fraying. What you might not know or want to think about is how your lack of sincere apology leaves your partner feeling as if they now mean nothing to you and the lover, everything. However, sometimes that is not the case at all, yet you still don’t want to apologize. Here are some common reasons:
Deep down, you had the affair to get out of your marriage. This is commonly referred to as an “exit affair.” But sometimes this motive is not experienced on a conscious level. In my experience, it can take someone a long time to come to grips with the desire to leave a marriage and the familiarity and/or safety that it represents. Acting out the wish by having an affair can be the first step towards this realization. Ironically, acting out feelings can keep us from being in touch with them.
You’re too angry. You haven’t been able to get through to your partner all of these years, either because (more…)
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…)
I have just come across clarification on a statistic I cited in “Can Relationships That Start as Affairs Succeed?” In that post I stated that 25% of relationships that start as affairs succeed. I always thought that sounded a bit high. Recently this figure has been clarified by Frank Pittman. In the study he is citing, the divorce rate among those who married their lovers was 75%. Information is not available about the quality of the 25% of marriages that did not end in divorce. The study did provide information on the reasons that the marriages ended… (more…)
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…)
If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, has it made a sound? The intrigue this question provokes is related to a central idea in postmodern philosophy, which is; a phenomena cannot be truly perceived apart from the context in which it is situated. A very obvious example of this would occur in a visit to the zoo, where we watch animals and think we are seeing true animal behavior. But what we are seeing are animals behaving in cages while experiencing being observed by humans. Their behavior is altered in ways that prevent us from knowing their most true nature. What has this got to do with undisclosed affairs? (more…)