The Seven “R’s” of Healing an Affair

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…)

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“How Can I Believe Him When He Says He’s Not Having an Affair?”

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…)

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What Type of Affair is This?

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…)

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Questions and More Questions About the Affair

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…)

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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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Should I Tell My Partner About The Affair?

Most likely if you are reading this you have been struggling with whether to tell your partner for a while. It’s natural to feel paralyzed, and unable to think deeply about your options. The issues involved can seem endlessly complicated; any route you take resulting in emotional upheaval for everyone involved. Revealing your affair will undoubtedly alter many important relationships in ways that you cannot predict or control. The situation is less difficult if you are clear that you want to leave your relationship for your new lover, but if you have now realized that in fact, you have made a mistake and want to save your primary relationship, or if you don’t yet know who you really want to be with, (more…)

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Torn Between Two Lovers (or a lover and a partner)

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…)

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