Tag Archives: affair

3 Types of Couples Survive Infidelity

Couples who survive an affair can be generally divided into three groups, says Esther Perel, M.A., author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Perel is a marriage therapist who wondered just how “happily ever after” the couples who survived an affair lived after the reconciliation. She contacted couples whom she had successfully treated years prior for infidelity to determine how they looked back at the event and its impact on their marriage. Their retrospective views were telling.

After completing interviews with the couples, Perel found they fell into three general groups. She writes extensively about her findings along with pieces of case studies for Psychotherapy Networker Magazine in an article called “After the Storm”. It’s well worth the read, particularly if you or your partner has experienced an affair or other type of turmoil during your marriage. The couples were categorized as:

  1. Living in the Past—These couples stay married, but never successfully move past the affair. Forgiveness is not truly given. The offending couple may not take any responsibility for contributing to relationship problems. “The affair has become the narrative of their union,” says Perel, who adds, “It’s a black hole trapping both parties in an endless round of bitterness, revenge, and self-pity.”
  2. The Survivors—These couples revert to a fairly peaceful marriage, similar to what they had before the affair. They stay in the marriage because they honor the values of commitment and loyalty, and they don’t want to break up their families. They may lack passion in their marriage, but they want to do the “right thing.” They see the affair as a painful mistake. They don’t transcend the affair, but they do move beyond it.
  3. The Explorers—These couples use the infidelity as a catalyst for change, transcending the experience to bring their relationship to new heights previously not experienced. They reinvent their relationship, learning from their failures and past hurts, and each take responsibility for their part in the marriage’s deterioration. The infidelity becomes an impetus for a transformative experience.

Perel explains that the most successful couples shifted from talking about “you” and “me” (what you did to me) to reflecting on “our life” or “our crisis”. (Read The Power of “We” in Relationships.)

Don’t’ just overcome adversity; be transformed by it. In an ideal world, we would all look for signs of relationship stress or difficulty before an emergency like infidelity takes hold in the marriage. For those who do experience a deep valley, such as an affair, use the opportunity to change yourself and your partnership for the better. Forgiveness may be a process. Moving on may be a process. But dwelling on past hurts for years afterward is a surefire path to long-term marital unhappiness.

Do these groups sound accurate to you? Why do you think it often takes something drastic to get our attention and bring about positive change in relationships?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

Can Social Networking Lead to Divorce?

Divorce lawyers are reporting this month that 20 percent of divorce petitions cite Facebook as a contributor in the marriage’s demise. It’s unclear whether the numbers are accurate, but social networking can pose a new kind of threat to relationships if not used appropriately.

Facebook’s 350 million+ users find the site allows them to easily connect with friends and relatives, people they once knew, or new people with common interests. For some people, these connections can lead to curiosity, online flirting, wandering eyes, and the opportunity to rekindle old relationships or begin new ones.

The increasing use of mobile devices to communicate on social networking sites can make  posts seem more private. However, nothing posted to the Internet is private, and these communications frequently become public knowledge.

Lack of trust by the offended spouse can result, and marriages may be splintered. Once relationships have been sparked, users may be tempted to cheat on their spouses, or may leave their marriages for a new or old flame. Temptation is as old as time, but some people may find this new type of temptation too alluring.

Some couples are opting to avoid social networks for these reasons. Others are putting in place guidelines for communicating with the opposite gender.

A helpful article at the Marriage Junkie gives 5 ways to protect your marriage if you use social networking.

A few tidbits they share include not sharing negative information about your spouse, choosing your “friends” wisely, discussing with your spouse what topics or people should be out of bounds, and avoiding private chats or the development of close relationships with members of the opposite sex. When in doubt, “unfriend” someone who is offensive or who sparks inappropriate feelings.

One tip I would add is to “friend” your spouse, or if they are not a member, provide your spouse access to your page at any time—not to “check on you” but so that you can chat about common friends and activities and have an air of openness.

A previous post details why emotional affairs can be just as deadly to a marriage as physical ones. Guard your mind and heart, and keep your focus and attention on your beloved spouse.

Do you use Facebook? Do you have any safeguards in place or do you see no need for them?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

Protect Your Marriage from an Emotional Affair

While you may be confident that your marriage isn’t at risk for a sexual affair, you may be blind to the very real and harmful risks of an emotional affair. A recent article posted by CNN.com and Oprah.com describes emotional affairs, which lack physical intimacy but do involve some secrecy, deception and betrayal.

Often an emotional affair can begin very innocently with a friendship from work, church or the neighborhood. A flirtatious online relationship can also develop into an emotional affair. Couples who are not emotionally connecting are at greatest risk of falling into an emotional affair with another person. This new connection brings about a fresh excitement, a spark, especially when someone you find attractive shows a sincere interest in you as a person and “gets” you even more than you feel your spouse does.

Emotional affairs may be on the rise. In the CNN article, psychiatrist Gail Saltz says, “Though emotional affairs have always been around, I’m seeing more of them among my clients than ever before. We’ve all grown so used to watching, reading, and hearing sexually suggestive material that there’s no longer an obvious verbal or physical line we think we’re crossing.”

She says a man and woman can be friends, but once they stop telling their partners how much time they’re spending together (including texting, phone calls or other communication), it becomes deceptive. Other signs of an emotional affair include making sure you look your best when you’re together and confiding more in this person than you do your spouse, or sharing that you are unhappy in your marriage or with your spouse.

Saltz says this kind of affair can be as harmful and difficult to overcome as a sexual affair. She advises that all contact with the “friend” needs to end, and the difficult marriage rebuilding needs to occur, ideally with professional help. The betrayal can be extremely difficult on the spouse, and cause a huge fracture in the marriage. The reasons for the affair (disconnect in the marriage) need to be addressed.

Preventing these inappropriate relationships is the best course, starting with maintaining open, honest communication with your spouse. “When a couple can’t express their feelings, concerns, and dreams, they’re both at risk for betrayal,” says Saltz. Secondly, avoid sharing too much personal information, especially with a member of the opposite sex. If you find someone attractive, keep some distance or engage with them only when your spouse is present.

“Any good marriage takes time, effort and emotional energy,” says Saltz, who says any marriage can fall into this trap. Would you risk your marriage with an emotional affair? Is there a relationship in your life that causes your heart to beat a little faster? Beware.

Preventing Marital Affairs in Today’s World

The slumping economy is apparently causing infidelity and divorce rates to drop. A private investigator reported on CNN that infidelity cases have dropped 75% since the economy took a dive. Economic woes have also put a damper on divorce. Thirty-seven percent of lawyers surveyed by CNN reported fewer divorces in their caseload, but only because the couples couldn’t afford to split at the present time.

Perhaps it’s a good time to build up the good relationships in your life. Not because it’s economically feasible, but because you realize how fleeting much of your life and lifestyle can be.

Marriage counselor and author Gary Newman suggests the following to strengthen your marriage and to “affair-proof” your marriage: 1) Give your spouse admiration and appreciation. 2) Have more sex, and embrace the idea of giving and receiving intimacy and pleasure.  “It’s about bringing out the best (in each other),” he says.

Many marriage experts also advise spouses to guard their hearts and their marriages from the temptation of straying. The vast majority of married individuals will likely admit to either flirting or being attracted to someone of the opposite sex during their marriage. Most of the time, it seems very harmless. But all too often, a friendly relationship turns into one of sharing deeper feelings, hopes and fears, developing an emotional connection, and perhaps leading to an affair. (It turns out emotional connection is the #1 reason for an affair.) If you even feel an attraction, be on guard, and talk to your spouse.

In “Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome,” author Nancy Anderson shares her experience of infidelity with a coworker early in her marriage. The affair began with complaining about her husband at work and having private lunches together with the coworker. It nearly ended her marriage. She and her husband now educate others on growing “affair-proof hedges” around their marriage. For example, all emails and correspondence must remain professional, never flirtatious. Talk about your spouse in positive terms letting others know you are happily married. In the book, she suggests group meetings rather than one-on-one meals with the opposite gender. While she was able to rebuild her marriage, many are not so fortunate. The warning: Don’t place yourself in vulnerable situations.

I believe the best prevention against affairs is maintaining the deep love that brought you together in the first place. Don’t let your job, your busy life, your children—or even the tough economy—divide you. Keep the dreams alive that brought you together.