Archive for June 24th, 2012
Many couples come to marriage counseling after one partner has had an extra-marital affair or relationship. Both spouses may be expressing anger, fear, blame, hopelessness, helplessness, despair, and just don’t know what to do to salvage their marriage. Some want to do whatever it takes to stay married. Sometimes the betrayed partner just doesn’t know how to “get rid” of their negative feelings and thoughts. The partner who committed the betrayal may have much confusion about why they had the affair, and does not want to discuss it with their partner. One or both partners may be ambivalent about staying married, hold much anger and resentment, and have already discussed divorce. In either case, both have come to couples counseling, which may be a very important indicator that they want to remain married. They just don’t know how to manage their current circumstances.
These couples often present themselves with similar identifiable interactional patterns. However, every couple has different beliefs about what led to them being in their current predicament. Most couples have not placed much emphasis on maintaining their marriage connection. They haven’t dated, had a personal intimate conversation, or haven’t had sex in quite some time. Their focus has been on their day to day lives, children, work, and family and financial stressors. It is also common that the couple has difficulty with conflict and avoid having disagreements. Resentments may build as issues are not discussed. Getting locked into a who is right and who is wrong gridlock may develop leading to feelings of despair and hopelessness.
Outside relationships often begin due to the lack of connection in the marriage. People may begin by having an innocent conversation with someone of the opposite sex. These conversations may then lead to their enjoying being around one another. Then they begin to have more intimate conversations and have fun together. Sooner or later the innocence develops into fully broken marriage boundaries, and the couple begins to engage in sex.
Affairs may be a way in which individuals can avoid their own problems with emotional or sexual intimacy. The longer the avoidance, the more distant they become from their spouse. It is like living in a fantasy world where the spouse having the affair totally separates the marriage from what they are doing. They begin to live two lives in this secret world. According to research, affairs usually do not last. Partners often find out about the affair, and the marriage goes deeper into chaos.
Couples therapy is a means of assisting a couple in changing their problematic relational patterns. Moving from blame, and who is right and who is wrong, to both partners taking responsibility for their behavior in the present. The partner who has been betrayed needs to develop trust. The partner who had the affair needs to show their spouse that they are truly sorry for wronging them. They need to answer many questions about what lead to their seeking someone outside of the marriage.
So, how do you develop trust in your spouse after a betrayal. Stop blaming them for their poor behavior. Blaming places your spouse on the defensive and maintains distance in your marriage. Expect your spouse to be accountable to you and establish boundaries around your marriage. No locks on cell phones. No secret passwords on email. Secrets will eventually show up. Sooner or later, they just usually do. Stay focused in the present and do not keep on bringing up the past. Bringing up the past is a choice. Doing so will only put salt on the wound in your relationship will only enlarge the pain. Healing takes place with genuine concern for one another. Be mindful or closely notice the good things that you and your spouse do each day. Comment on these positive things and show appreciation for the positive connection. Every couple is different in how long it takes to move from anger and bitterness to being able to be NICE to one another. As the healing in your relationship moves forward, you may see less and less return to the past, and more and more focus on how you want your relationship to now be. You can imagine how you want your relationship to be in 3 months. You can then begin to work on your own behavior that can lead to that newly imagined behavior in your relationship.
I never said it was easy to move from being angry and resentful, and you can be resilient and build hope in your relationship through working on improving your own behavior on a daily basis. A goal in your relationship can look like feeling good about coming home to your spouse. You can have a positive outlook about what you can do to make your relationship the way you want it to be. Sometimes having one partner start showing new behavior can encourage your partner to respond in a more positive way. It really doesn’t matter who starts first to change your relationship. The more you think that your spouse owes it to you to take the first step, the more I suggest that you do it yourself. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will find contentment in your life and have some peace of mind.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )