Infidelity’s Tragic Story!
By Ann Mody Lewis Ph.D
Do I Have to Think About Infidelity?
The last thing that new couples want to think about is the possibility of infidelity, but temptations are all around them. They will spend more of their marital time apart than together. They will have weak moments when someone new seems more enticing than suffering through the resolution of conflicts, going to marital therapy, or making adjustments they don't want to make. And then there are the various depressions we all harbor that promote discouragement, lack of focus, resentments, and a host of other problems we may not want to admit. A new start may be justified rather than finding out why "we've grown apart."
Marriage is possible and all research shows that we are happier together! Marriage is the institutionalization of best friendships. So how do we ensure our marriages endure? Let me be specific:
*Consider pre-marital therapy.
This will give you a safe a guided forum to discuss important matters. Some church groups have marriage encounter weekends to help couples build honesty and stability. It makes partners psychologically-minded by teaching the connections between their personal emotional history and the problems they will face. I couldn't think of a more worthwhile investment.
*Be realistic enough to talk about what should be done if either of you has an affair.
Explain your position on infidelity and what it would mean about the future of your relationship. Though your position may be affected by years of marriage and children, be real. Talking about infidelity softens its mystery and the sting it creates.
*Talk to other couples who have survived infidelity!
If they're really recovered they will be happy to share with you the reasons for not giving up on one another. Finding a marriage support group can be a wonderful opportunity for community and comfort.
*Throughout your marriage develop healthy friendships with other couples who will become your family of friends.
Couples need support and encouragement from family, friends, and their children. Problems often isolate couples who are ashamed to admit they're having a problem, especially a problem like infidelity! Couples who are isolated expect too much from one another. Reaching out to others makes being together bearable when they're both hurting.
*Keep your sexual connection alive. Sex does not make a relationship, but it does revitalize it. Sex is only for the two of you! Discuss what you need. Change your technique. Talk about how sex felt after you've been together. Both partners should be responsible for initiating sex, because both of you need to feel desired. Text each other during the day something loving, sexual, funny, anticipatory, longing, or just plain mundane stuff; Use technology to stay connected.
*Read about infidelity. I would recommend these books:
“The State of Affairs...rethinking infidelity” by Esther Perel
“Healing From Infidelity” by Michele Weiner-Davis
“Not Just Friends: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity” by Shirley P Glass and Jean Coppock Staeheli
Healing from Infidelity...
Infidelity that is discovered is more hurtful than infidelities that are revealed.
Discovered infidelities are much more harmful, because they imply anon-going intended deception. The offender may deny the truth, because they're not ready to be caught or terminate an outside relationship. Neither are they ready to end the freedom of pleasure. Ironically, they end up feeling deceived, accused, and humiliated when their outside relationship is discovered. They are no longer in charge of the duplicitous life they're created. It's the unpredictability of infidelity that makes it a dangerous game. The anger of being exposed may make them totally insensitive to each other's pain which compounds the tragedy of deception.
Can any couple survive the emotional trauma of infidelity?
Both partners will suffer. The person deceived will suffer from insult and loss. The deceiver will suffer from lost delusions of having two worlds without accountability. Each will blame the other. They both need a friend who is impartial, insightful, patient, and hopeful. Entering psychotherapy is essential after an infidelity. Couples who try to figure out the complexities of infidelities on their own are using a denial response that will only cause deep problems into their future: pain that is not understood, anger that is not resolved, questions that are never answered, and hurt that feels unbearable. They become intimate stranger without the hard work of healing.
If the process of emotional separation caused the infidelity, healing from it is only accomplishable through the process of psychotherapy. Complete honesty can generate complete trust. Psychotherapy is cheaper than divorce, financially and emotionally.
Announce to your family, especially your children, and friends, that you are going to heal your relationship. In the presence of the spouse, the offender should contact the outside person and announce the termination. They should grant access to their technology to the offended partner. Access would mean leaving phones where they can be seen, allowing partner the right to check their phone whenever they feel the need, and using the computer in the common areas of their home. If their children are old enough, couples should explain to them that mom and dad are going through a crisis but want to make it better. They, too, are affected by the turmoil infidelity creates. Children can become partners in healing, because most children want the best for their parents
Couples will need to be with other couples and individual who are supportive of their marriage. Sometimes family and friends who are angry can't be supportive. They will want the offender or offended to carry out their angry agenda. Set a firm boundary with family and friends: Be with us or apart from us!
Healing from infidelity will require the antithesis of what created it: honesty...no matter how painful to reveal or hear. An honest person is always believable; but just because they're honest should never deprive the offended partner the right to be angry. The initial stage of healing is always painful; so don't get discouraged; just remember the pain you were both in before the disclosure was made.
Growing from infidelity?
No, I'm not kidding!
The wonders of being human is transforming the human experience! Every type of abuse can become fertile ground for personal growth for those who are willing to grieve, learn, and grow from insight.
We learn how to forgive.
We accept our own vulnerabilities.
We recharge our commitment to honesty, loyalty, family, and integrity.
We learn who we are and what we stand for.
We develop a growing appreciation for what we've created with our permanent partner.
We set an example for our children about the enduring strength of honest love.
We learn that sex is not love, deception is erosive, and duplicity is insanity.
We learn to be humbled by our humanity.
And finally we realize: One life is all we need!