Forgiving an Affair

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…)

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“I Told You If You Ever Have an Affair It’s Over!”…

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…)

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

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  You can see that it leaves your partner feeling more betrayed, enraged, disgusted, and/or withdrawn.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…)

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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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Who Should I Tell About the Affair?

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…)

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I Just Found Out My Partner is Having an Affair!

Most likely, you are in shock and feel as if the floor has opened up under you. Suddenly, there is an emergency and a strong need to take some action right away; you may have already left or thrown your partner out, or you may feel on the verge of doing so. But this may not bring you any real relief.

Your sense of safety, of trusting your own experience, of your place in the world, has suddenly been shaken to the core and the person you usually turn to for help is the very person who is the cause! (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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The Other Woman (or Man) – A Paradoxical Experience

If you are involved with a married person and reading this, chances are that you have already gone through the initial stage of infatuation and blinding bliss.  In this initial stage you have not wanted to think too deeply about the realities you have been creating in your life by pursuing this relationship.

But as things progress and the honeymoon period wears off, you start to have questions.  You bring them up to you lover, but most likely come away with answers that leave you only partially or not at all satisfied.  Here are some examples of questions that individuals in this situation find themselves asking.

Would they leave their spouse for you?

Do they really love you?

        Have they had other affairs?

How do they justify the affair in their mind?

Would  they cheat on you also?

Are they really not having sex with their spouse?

The strangeness of the situation cannot help but make you wonder what you really mean to your affair partner. Getting these answers can become more and more important as you become more involved and possibly obsessed with your lover. There is a point where you come to realize that you might not be  as central to them as they are to you.

Rona Subotnik illuminates a list of paradoxical realities that you may find yourself living with as the other person. Here is my version of her findings: (more…)

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