Tag Archives: overcoming infidelity

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?

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Women Breadwinners are More Likely to be Cheated On

CNN has released details of a new study that says men are more likely to cheat on women who earn more money than they do. (Think Sandra Bulluck and Jesse James.) The amount of the disparity seemed to change fidelity rates with men who were completely dependent on the woman five times more likely to cheat than men who earned similar amounts as their female partner.

The study’s author, Christin Munsch, says the income disparity may threaten traditional views, or it could be that these men just happen to be unhappy in the relationship.

Before you start feeling sympathetic for these under-earning men, the study reports that men who make significantly MORE than their wives or girlfriends ALSO are more likely to cheat because his job may require long hours or travel, and this situation may be more conducive to cheating.

Hmmm … sounds like a lot of excuses for why some men may feel it is acceptable to cheat. The men who were least likely to cheat are men in relationships with women who earned 75 percent of their income. Perhaps certain men feel this allows them to view their mate as a partner without feeling they have lost control?

Women in the study, unlike the men, were more faithful when they depended on the male for financial security; they were half as likely to cheat. Munsch says this situation may be more socially acceptable and nonthreatening, they may have fewer opportunities to cheat, or they may not feel it’s worth the risk.

(Studies have shown women are less likely to cheat. Do you agree with Munsch’s reasons, or do you believe women have lower sexual desire or greater control of their sexual impulses? Or do they care more about the morality or impact of their decision?)

The good news is that within the study of married and cohabiting couples, only a small number of them experienced cheating—3.8 percent of the male partners and 1.4 percent of the female partners.

I think it can be healthy to have either partner being the breadwinner, and I know some stay-at-home fathers who are very appreciated by their high-earning wives. Whichever spouse earns more, he or she should not pretend to control the relationship with the purse strings or claim to have more say because of the size of their paycheck. The partner who is earning less may be sacrificing for the family, with home and child rearing responsibilities, and that should be valued as much as the dollars earned.

I agree that high earners probably have more opportunities to cheat, particularly with travel and professional connections. (If you face temptations, put protective measures in place, such as not going out to lunch with a colleague whom you find attractive.) However, any partner who chooses to stray can find the opportunity. Both genders can and should have the capacity to be faithful to the commitments they have made.

That being said, I know many couples who have successfully overcome infidelity. If you or your partner has cheated, find a pro-marriage counselor to help you through the crisis.

What do you think about this study’s results and about men’s and women’s propensity to stray?

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