Posts tagged affair recovery
When Good People Cheat: The Unmet Needs Affair
 
 

“I never meant for this to happen,” is what I typically hear when I sit down with someone who has been unfaithful to their partner.

I genuinely believe them when they tell me this because doing this work, I’ve heard from plenty of partners who have strayed in some fashion, and this is a common thread. They are good people, and they’ve made a mistake, and it’s not my job to judge, but to help them understand what lead to their behaviors so that they can prevent it from happening again.

There are many types of affairs. The most common one that I see is what Mira Kirchenbaum calls, the “unmet needs” affair. In her book, When Good People have Affairs, she outlines many types of affairs and I often recommend her book to clients who have or are having an affair because it can really help them understand their behaviors better, in conjunction with the work we do in session.

The unmet needs affair happens when you feel as though there is something missing in your relationship with your partner.

It could be sex, intimacy, or intelligent conversation. But focusing on one aspect of the relationship that is missing is a trap, and many times people only come to realize what they’ve been missing after they’ve already crossed the line.

When you look outside of your relationship for that one unmet need, you are essentially negating all of the many other positive aspects that likely exist in your relationship.

A whole, healthy, relationship only includes sex or conversation as a very small piece that makes up the relationship, however the trap occurs when you begin to see this piece as a gaping hole – it has the potential to become everything, and with the help of an affair partner, you begin to negate the many other positive aspects that you once based your relationship on.

Getting involved with someone else in order to fulfill this unmet need is typically clouded by the electrifying rush that happens in new relationships. It’s quite normal for people to see their affair partner as the most amazing person they’ve ever met, however an affair relationship is only a façade – it exists in a vacuum, and lacks much of the other important aspects that secure, long-term relationships need to survive.

Using another person to fulfill that one aspect that was missing from your marriage is fundamentally flawed because without fully knowing your affair partner, you are unable to see all of their true characteristics, as this relationship will also have missing aspects to it.

If you think back to the beginning of your marriage, I’m sure there were fireworks. Things in the beginning of relationships tend to be intense and full of passion.

I once read that falling in love has the same impact as a drug on the brain. It’s easy to become addicted to that feeling, and those intense emotions cloud your judgment.

The beginning of a relationship is when you go out of your way for that other person – you stay up all night talking even if you’ve got to be at work at 7am, you write silly love poems, and drive an hour both ways just to spend an hour in the arms of your love.

If you’re stuck in the difficult spot of having already crossed the line and engaged in an affair to fulfill a need that was lacking in your marriage, you’re not alone. I know that there is a great deal of shame and pain that comes from making that decision, but there is also support for you to right your wrongs.

Although the road is long and difficult, I’ve seen some wonderful things come from those who are willing to look at themselves, their decisions, and learn from their mistakes.

Relationships can be repaired, and that shame can go away, but the first step is asking for help. If you could use some support and want to begin the process of understanding your behavior, give me a call at (909) 226-6124, and we can talk about ways therapy can help. 

My Husband Cheated. Am I to Blame?
 
 

“How could I have been so stupid?”

 

“Why did I believe him when he said he was busy with work all of those late nights?”

 

“How did I not see it coming?”

These are all pretty common reactions and themes that I hear when women come in to see me after they’ve discovered their partner has had an affair.

When I sit and compare the way men and women react after discovering infidelity, the difference is clear. Men tend to react with anger. Women tend to react with self-blame.

Men might not react by becoming physically violent, but they share fantasies about hurting their spouse’s affair partner.

Women retreat and look at themselves. They consider all of the things they did or did not do throughout their entire marriage. They wonder whom they could have been more or less like.

“Maybe if I were skinnier… kept a cleaner house… listened to him talk more about work… asked the right questions to get him to really tell me what was going on…”

If only, if only, if only. And to that, I call bullshit!

All you have to do is check out the cover of any gossip magazine to know that those thoughts are distorted. Even the most beautiful women get cheated on. They have help, their homes are immaculate, they get paid to look good, and yet somehow the men in their lives manage to stray.

The bottom line is that if someone is determined to cheat, they are going to cheat. You can’t clean, cook, or work out enough to change their mind.

When people cheat it isn’t about their partner.

Did you just read that?

When he cheated it wasn’t about you.

It was about him, and how he felt. The entire act of cheating is incredibly selfish, and while people are in the act, their spouses are typically farthest from their minds.

You may have missed the warning signs, and you may have made it easy for him to get away with it, and continue the affair, but that was likely due to the fact that you trusted. You loved and you trusted, and you believed that the person who vowed to be with you forever, would.

There’s no fault in that. That’s what we are supposed to do in order to have a good relationship.

Sometimes people are not the best at creating and voicing boundaries. It can be uncomfortable to bring something up that might make you think you sound like a crazy person. Things like, “I saw you hug your female coworker at the company party and it seemed like you held on just a couple seconds too long.”

Maybe you thought something, or saw something, and you had a gut reaction to it, but you ignored it because you didn’t want to rock the boat. That’s completely normal, and the truth is, if you had brought it up it may have gotten your partner to stop for a second and consider their behavior, but if they were determined to cheat, it wouldn’t have stopped them.

Most people who cheat tell me that they didn’t intend for it to happen - actually almost all of them tell me that. If they’re in denial about their responsibility, they typically say, “it just happened,” and to that I call bullshit as well because like my friend Robyn says, “you don’t just trip and fall in another woman’s vagina.” You just don’t.

But the people who are ready to understand their behavior often tell me that they reached a point of no return, and they got in over their heads. They usually say they didn’t intend for it to happen, and for all the pain and suffering it has caused their partner, they truly wish they could take it back.

They tell me that things were not great in their marriage, and that they didn’t know how to talk about it or fix it.

But what did she have that I didn’t?

There may have been a ton of qualities that the other woman had that differed from yours. But the honest to goodness truth is that the other woman had a relationship that was based on nothing other than mutual pleasure.

Extramarital relationships exist in vacuums. Your partner didn’t share any responsibilities with that other person, they weren’t raising kids with them, and they didn’t share a mortgage, car payments, or any of the other, not-so-sexy things that come along with marriage.

We all have choices. Unfortunately your partner made a poor one, and didn’t come to you first in an attempt to repair the issues in your relationship that caused them to stray, but it’s not too late, and even though it’s an uphill battle, you can repair the damage that’s been done if each person is willing to do the hard work. 

If you still can’t see that you aren’t to blame for your partner’s affair, I’d love to support you and help you understand what’s happened in your relationship, and explore options for the future. Give me a call at (909) 226-6124 or you can click here to schedule your first session.

5 Things that come between Couples And Cause Affairs

I’ve sat across from enough couples trying to repair their marriages after an affair to know that they don’t just happen. There are some telltale signs that a relationship is ripe for an affair. No one thinks it will happen to them, and its easy to see in hindsight that there were in fact signals leading up to it.

While we can’t affair-proof our relationships, we can invest in them enough that an affair will be much less likely.

Here are 5 things that commonly come between couples and have the ability to cause an affair:

1.     Time

In the beginning of a relationship things are usually the best they will be. Couples have plenty of time to enjoy one another, they spend a significant amount of time together, they talk openly, and they share hobbies and interests that keep them connected.

As time passes two becomes three and then four, and the focus shifts from the couple to the family. Responsibilities increase, stresses increase, and time and energy decrease. The lack of time and energy once used towards one another dwindles, and a lack of connection that once kept the relationship fresh, diminishes.

2.     Caring for Children

Children are one of the most amazing gifts, and in order to be a good parent it takes time, energy, and a great amount of effort. Sometimes that effort and energy comes at the detriment of the marital relationship.

I often see parents killing themselves to put their kids in all the right sports and extracurricular activities, running them around like an über driver on a Friday night. They angst over participation in activities because “they look good on college admission essays,” or even preschool applications.

All that running around, over-committing, and overextending leads to exhaustion and under-commitment to the marital relationship. Who has the energy for intimate conversation or sex after running on empty with kids all day?

When children leave the nest I often have couples coming into my office wondering who the person is sitting next to them. After years of committing to their children, they forget they were once committed to one another, and lack the intimacy that comes with regular connection. 

3.     Career

Work/life balance is often elusive. As couples work to provide the biggest and the best for their children, it’s easy to continually strive for the next promotion, which usually comes with an increase in responsibility, and longer hours.

Working long hours can lead to a lack of connection at home. Often times, inter-office friendships can spark as a result of all the time spent on the job, and although they may seem innocent at first, feelings of loneliness can surface and be a cause for infidelity.

4.     Outside Hobbies and Interests

I tend to be a big cheerleader when it comes to both partners having interests of their own. I encourage the individuality that comes with doing something that doesn’t include your partner or kids because I think it makes us more whole. It’s what we bring back to the relationship and talk about, and it’s what makes us unique.

However, there is a fine line, and balance is always key. When there’s no regular connection in the relationship, and date nights aren’t happening nearly as often as the kid’s play-dates, it’s difficult to justify an out of town fishing trip with the guys, or a daily 2-hour gym routine.

5.     Difficult life-transitions

The transition into parenthood, a career change, caring for an aging parent, a move to a new state - all of these are examples of life-transitions. When things change in a big way, there are lots of feelings that go along with these transitions.

When the feelings are not outwardly expressed in the relationship, and one partner feels as thought they aren’t able to confide in the other, it can cause a wedge that leads to loneliness.

What all 5 of the things I’ve listed have in common are their ability to cause disconnection and loneliness. Loneliness and disconnection often lead to vulnerability, and vulnerability has the ability to lead to an affair if the right person comes around at the right time.

The bottom line is that connection is key.

If you’re connecting with your partner, sharing intimate moments with one another, and each of you feels valued and satisfied with your relationship, any of the above listed things can come into your lives. While they may be challenging, the strength you feel from the friendship and connection with your partner will help push you through the storm together.  

Find ways to sneak 15 minutes out of your day to be alone.

Create routines that encompass connection. Make it a habit to connect through text or email throughout the day, and sit together after the kids go to bed and talk before getting into bed.

If you’re having trouble finding the connection you need with your partner, I’m just a phone call or email away. My passion is helping couples find their stride and connection with one another, so don’t hesitate to reach out! Let’s set up a quick phone consultation, and I’ll be happy to discuss ways to connect more with your partner (909) 226-6124.