Affairs Happen… now how do I survive?
There is probably not much more devastating to a relationship than an affair, no matter how big or small. The contract two people had between them that was supposed to be unbreakable and impermeable has been broken. The betrayed partner finds themselves wondering about who is this person I am with and have the past years all been a lie.
At Bestmarriages.com we understand this pain and work with couples weekly that have been through this. You do not have to go through this alone or without tools to repair the unfathomable damage. We gently support and guide both parties through this and help them understand the context of the affair. We do not minimize the damage but we do believe there is a way to navigate through it and rebuild trust and faithfulness again.
Every area of the marriage has to be repaired as it has all been ripped apart. Below are a few facts about affairs to begin to help you understand you are not alone. Give us a call and we will begin to help put the pieces back together.
The research states that 86% of marriages that go though an affair survive if they attend couples counselling compared to only 56% that do not get any help.
Facts & Information from BestMarriages.com
As heard on CFUN Radio, September 22, 2006
Sources: NOT Just Friends by Shirley Glass; research by Dr. John Gottman, Darren Wilk and Lawrence Stoyanowski.
- Only 10% will marry their affair partner and then there is huge mistrust when married. If you leave someone and expect to have a long term relationship with the partner in the affair the chances are 1-2%.
- Shirley Glass Says- infidelity is more likely to lead to divorce if the unfaithful spouse is the wife.
- For women, it only takes one liaison and they are more likely to divorce. For men, it takes a serious relationship to divorce.
- There is a higher chance of divorce if affair is combined-type involvement which equals sex and emotional connection. Wives had more of this type of affair.
- Women are more likely to have affairs with old flames, friends, or neighbors.
- Most affairs are happening at work. From 1990 to present, 50% of wives had affairs at work; between 1980-90, 38% had work affairs.
- Internet Chats are a real problem — partners are more accessible and it fills the need of emotional connection late at night when one of the partners has gone to sleep.
- As many women are having affairs as men.
- When unfaithful wives were younger than 31 years old with no kids, they were more likely to divorce after an affair.
- Men are more likely than women to separate sex and love.
- 26% of men said that they could have sex without becoming emotionally involved; only 3% of women said the same.
- Two thirds of husbands and wives regarded falling in love as justification to have affair.
- Couples need to learn to distinguish “falling in love” and “being in love”. “Mature strong love” is a committed long-term relationship that is good enough and may not always be fantastic.
- No one can compete with the excitement and novelty of an affair because it is Secret, dangerous, passionate and novel.
- Speaking of novelty, National Geographic reports that the relationships that take place in exciting or novel environments create the same chemical reactions in the brain that feels like love: it is the newness and secrecy makes it feel like love.
- There is little reality to an affair because both partners are not in their normal environments.
- In the majority of cases, the spouse does not know about the affair.
- Most predictive emotional cue is not saying “I love you” to the partner anymore.
- Discloser of infidelity by women more frequently leads to divorce.
- Men who had mothers with philander issues exhibit pathological jealously and women with dads that were philanders tended to stay with their husbands if they were philanders as well.
Getting over it.
- Get rid of all mementos and reminders.
- Make the farewell Final — the partner needs to hear it and send the letters.
- Answer all unanswered questions: complete disclosure. If you are not sure you can handle the answer to the question, do not ask it. Explicit sexual details may do more harm than good.
- Work as a couple together to repair the old wounds and flashbacks. The unfaithful one should not minimize the other’s pain or avoid talking about it.
- The offender needs to put the betrayed partner on the inside. Be completely open and do not leave room for your partner to fill in the blanks about details of the affair — the imagination will always go to the worst case scenario.
- Cement the wall with the affair partner: concretely end all contact.
- Keep no secrets: do not try to protect a partner from pain or hurt by keeping secrets. Any mistruths or “white lies” can sabotage the healing process and put you back at square one.
- Prove that it is over with concrete evidence.
- Accountability is important: the unfaithful partner needs to answer, for a while, to the other person. i.e., phoning the partner on the hour or giving a specific breakdown of the day’s events.
- Respect boundaries. Behavior must change — create new safer patterns around the opposite sex.
- Loosen the cord — do not keep them on a short leash forever. Autonomy is a must again, and the offended partner needs to learn to trust again and give space. No one can guarantee anything, however one still needs to trust for their own sanity. This is the paradox in life. You have to give trust to get trust.
Remember: In order to get someone back, do not chase or grovel and promise to be better. This creates a sense of “no challenge” for the partner, and gives your power away.
Address the issues in the relationship:
- Is the marriage too child-centered?
- Deal with incompatible sexual interests.
- Build fun into the relationship with common interests.
- Excusing or condoning
- Giving permission to continue in the behavior
- A gift you give to self
- A choice
- A process
- Letting go of obsessive bitterness
- Letting go of pain to free yourself without minimizing the injury
- Letting go of revenge
What is unforgivable?
- Has the affair stopped?
- Is there regret and remorse?
- Beware of quick promises to change.
- Repeat offenders? Watch out for the addictive cycle.
Do not forgive too soon: there can be a temptation to have flight into health too quickly. EASY FORGIVENESS CAN BE PERCEIVED AS A LICENCE TO CONTINUE IN HURTFUL BEHAVIOR.
- Acknowledge your own pain.
- Understand the personal weakness and emotional vulnerabilities.
- Be specific about what you expect and what you cannot tolerate.
- Be specific about what you are forgiving your partner for.
- Perform an overt act of forgiveness verbally, physically, or in writing.
- Stop blaming and start living.