Read these 23 Overcoming Affairs Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Marriage tips and hundreds of other topics.
Building trust once infidelity has occurred takes much time and effort. However, if both partners are willing to be open and completely honest the marriage has the potential of reaching new levels of satisfaction. In order for this to happen both individuals must be completely honest with each other. This requires NO secrets. Secrets in any form can destroy the relationship especially after the affair. Trust isn't built in a day, it is built one true statement after another.
There are specific phases of treating infidelity. The expected outcome of treatment should be either a better marriage or a better divorce. Below is the first phase for treating couples who have been unfaithful.
Phase #1 Restoring Trust--In this volatile, rage-filled period, the dominant issue for the victim is the betrayal of trust and the need for genuine expressions of remorse from the infidel, which may lead to rebonding.
The Process of Overcoming Affairs
by Peggy Vaughan
1. Accept the fact that it happened. This doesn't mean "liking" it; it just means giving up focusing on " if only" and dealing with "what is."
2. Work to understand what happened in terms of the societal factors that contributed to it in order to overcome the idea that it's ONLY due to personal failure.
3. Talk about what happened--not just for the sake of talking, but in order to move the process along--since hiding it reinforces the feelings of shame.
4. Deliberately focus on dealing with it.
5. Believe it's possible to recover.
6. Allow time to heal. Time alone won't bring recovery, but it does require time and patience to work through this experience.
Silence fuels the affair, which can thrive only in secrecy. Adulterous marriages begin their repair only when the secret is out in the open, and the infidel does not need to hide any longer. It also helps to end the affair or the marriage. Once an affair is known or even suspected, there is no safety in denial, but there is hope in admission.
Change occurs when guilt is felt. However, guilt must come from the inside rather than from a raging, nasty spouse; anger is an appropriate emotion after an affair, but it is not productive if it is used to shame, belittle, and criticize the person who had the affair.
For many people, the affair is a life-changing event. It often prompts a thorough self-examination and can lead to a complete redirection of a person's life. Some people finally "grow up" in the wake of an affair.
Others say the pain and loss experienced by infidelity forced them to look for a spiritual demension to their lives beyond relationships.
The underlying feature of all affairs for all parties involved is dishonesty. Peggy Vaughan urges couples to set up a habit of honesty early in a marriage. Start talking now. Start from day one of the marriage. And the open communication must be ongoing.
The third phase of treating infidelity is critical as most couples need a direction to go once they have a knowledge of why the infidelity occurred.
The third phase of treatment is:
Phase #3: Rapproachment: Emphasis is placed on building skills of disclosure and discussion of issues and feelings, which will enable the couple to move either toward a resolution of a better marriage or a better divorce.
Patriarchal custom assumes that when a man screws around it must be because of his wife's aesthetic, sexual, or emotional deficiencies. Many people believe that screwing around is a normal response to an imperfect marriage and is, by definition, the marriage partner's fault. Ultimately, one marriage partner can make the other miserable, but can't make the other unfaithful. Civilization and marriage require that people behave appropriately however they feel, and that they take full responsibility for their actions.
Overcoming an affair is not easy, it takes time and real effort from both spouses. After an affair the person who cheated should give their spouse time to heal from the wound. In many cases I have heard one spouse say, "just get over it I am not going to do it again." Such a statement is controlling and is not compassionate. It takes time to heal from the past and only actions over time will tell whether the person who had the affair is really committed to the relationship. Time will tell.
There are some specific phases for helping couples overcome affairs. The second phase is:
Phase #2 Examining Predisposing Factors--As feelings of rage and mistrust diminish in intensity, the therapist is able to review the couple's courtship, early marital history, crisis points in the marriage and their handling, and an examination of their families of origin.
Understanding these issues can help couples learn the factors that have contributed most to the infidelity. It also brings implicit issues into the forefront. This is a big step in creating long lasting change.
Often people explain that most marriages are fine before the affair happened, and the decision that they were not in love with their marriage partner is often an effort to explain and justify the affair. Being in love doesn't protect people from lust. Screwing around on your loved one is not a very loving thing to do, and it may be downright hostile. Falling out of love is no reason to betray your mate. If people are experiencing a deficiency in their ability to love their partner, it is not clear how something so hateful as betraying him or her would restore it.
Lengthy affairs grow out of malfunctioning marital relationships. Below is the third stage for relationships in which affairs occur.
Stage 3: Cold Rage: Evidence of an affair mounts, but is denied by the victim, who uses greater distancing as a shield against knowledge; the infidel feels increasingly justified and the affair intensifies.
Lengthy affairs grow out of malfunctioning marital relationships. Below is the fourth stage for relationships in which affairs occur.
Stage 4: Hot Rage: The affair is discovered, but now always admitted; feelings anger, confusion and shame reach a point of crisis, stressing both mates.
Affairs are about secrets. The infidelity is not necessarily in the sex, but in the dishonesty. Many affairs end when the secret is out of the bag. Many people also believe that people having affairs have more sex. In actuality, monogamous couples have a lot more sex than the people who are screwing around.
Most people are faithful most of the time. Humans, like most species of birds and animals are inherently monogamous. We can be trained out of it…but if we slip up and take a new mate while the old mate is still alive, it is likely to destroy the pair bonding with our previous mate and create great instinctual disorientation—which is part of the tragedy of infidelity.
Lengthy affairs grow out of malfunctioning marital relationships. Below is a common first stage for relationships in which affairs occur.
1) Poor self-disclosure--While couples often report that the early years of their marriage were uneventful, further examination reveals an absence of effective communication and means of self-disclosure.
Dr. Lusterman is one of the best in the United States in treating marital infidelity. His book is one that has been written for the general public. The book has exercises and tools for therapists to use with clients who have struggled with infidelity. It organizes the couple to come to sessions prepared to deal with important therapeutic issues. Individuals can use the book without a therapist, but having a therapist to talk with can increase a couples chance for having a positive outcome in marriage.
Lusterman, Don-David (1998). Infidelity: A Survival Guide. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Lengthy affairs grow out of malfunctioning marital relationships. Below is the stage for relationships in which affairs occur.
Stage 2: Onset of the Affair: Because poor communication has stunted the growth of true intimacy and pleasure in the relationship, one member may see the marriage as humdrum, and seek the excitement of a new alliance, while the mate remains unaware of these changing feelings.
Many first-time divorcees occur in the wake of an affair. With therapy though, most adulterous marriages can be saved, and may even be stronger and more intimate than they were before the crisis. Dr. Pittman argues that rarely does divorce occur after an affair if the affair is over. However, each subsequent affair lowers the odds of a marriage surviving.
If you are looking for a book to help you understand infidelity you can read Annette Lawson's book, "Adultery". The exact reference is below.
Lawson, Annette (1988). Adultery. New York: Basic Books. A sociological study of extramarital relationships, including data from hundreds of interviews, both statistical and anecdotal. This book is written from the viewpoint of a feminist scholar.
Janis Abrahms Spring has written a nice book on how to deal with the affair after it has occurred. This book, written for the general public, is a thoughtful guide to the many questions that partners must confront following the discovery of an affair.
Spring, Janis Abrahms (1996). After the Affair. New York: Harper Perrenial.
Dr. Frank Pittman has said that, the reality of affairs is that, whether they are blatant or furtive, they will destroy the marriage. Pittman said, “In 30 years of practice, I have encountered only a handful of established first marriages that ended in divorce without someone being unfaithful, often with the infidelity kept secret throughout the divorce process and even for years afterwards.” Marriage is hard enough without trying to recover from the betrayal of infidelity.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|