Posts tagged cheating
To ask, or not to ask?
 
Infidelity
 

“Every time she asks me who I was talking to it puts me on the defense.”

“I can’t do anything without being questioned!”

“He has the password to everything, I am an open book.”

These are some of the things I hear in sessions with couples who are trying to rebuild trust in their relationships. They come to me after they’ve discovered their partner has been unfaithful, and they are devastated and wanted to know what the next steps are.

After I help them through their initial crisis phase, we talk about rebuilding trust, and what that’s going to look like going forward. I’ve heard many creative solutions to this from wary spouses who have been cheated on, and sometimes they are exhausted with the constant checking they are doing.

Checking the emails, checking the texts, checking the location of their phone and making sure it matches up to their story. How long should it take to get home from the grocery store? Is that story about having to stay later at work even true?

This can become the reality in the aftermath of an affair, and quite frankly I too become exhausted just listening to all the extra lengths people go to in order make sure their spouses are being truthful.

But the honest truth is, if your partner wants to cheat, they will cheat.

You can’t affair-proof your relationship.

I know that can be incredibly difficult to hear for some.

But it can also be relieving when you really break it down. The truth is, no amount of checking is going to keep them faithful, so you can stop driving yourself crazy doing so.

In the initial stages after an affair has occurred it is important to negotiate boundaries. No contact with the affair partner, checking in frequently, and giving up passwords for devices if that’s what makes you feel better at the time.

However, trust is truly built on the interactions you have with one another after you decide to stay together. Trust is built on faith, and faith must sometimes be blind.

I often tell partners who have strayed, if you place even a tenth of the energy you put into your affair into your marriage, imagine the happiness you can have in this relationship. There’s a good amount of reconfiguring, time stolen, and effort put into meeting an affair partner. Imagine if you did that with your partner?

It’s easy to get defensive as the questions are asked over and over, but if you’ve strayed then you need to understand it’s not necessarily about your partner wanting to get a different answer from you. It’s really about them having gone through trauma and wanting to regain some sense of normalcy.

The person they trusted most and likely didn’t think was capable of cheating broke their trust, and so they are trying to regain their bearings and in some ways, their sense of control.

If you are the partner asking the questions, I suggest you ask yourself this: Do you want to know the answer to that question, or do you want your partner to know that you have this question?

Those two things are very different. It may seem like you want the answers to all your questions, but if you take a step back and really think about it, are the answers really helpful to you? Once you receive the information you can’t go back, and you can’t “un-see” the images that will float through your mind.

I’ll ask you again – do you want to know the answer to your question? Or do you just want your partner to know that you have this question?

You may want your partner to know that you have questions about how they were able to sneak away and make time for their affair. This question is different then, “when did it happen?” or “did you do it in the car? In the office? In our home?”

Similarly you may want to have access – phone, computer, and email passwords. Having access doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be checking daily. It’s really about your partner’s willingness to give you the passwords and access that means all the difference.

If you’re having difficulty navigating your way through reestablishing trust with your partner in the aftermath of an affair, I’d love to help. You can click here and schedule a phone consultation that’s totally free and we can talk about how therapy might help one or both of you through the recovery process. 

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.

How to love your Cheating Partner
 
 

 

Your partner has shattered your world.

The relationship that you once had is no longer, and maybe you’re still on the fence about staying in the relationship, but you certainly don’t know how to love them at the moment, and should you?

I have so many injured partners who sit on my couch and tell me similar stories. Stories of hating and loving their cheating partner all at the same time.

They often say things like, “I feel sick to my stomach when I think about the fact that I still want to be with this person, shouldn’t I hate them for what they’ve done to me?”

Dealing with infidelity is like getting on a roller coaster that you didn’t know you got strapped into. The emotions are high, and they are also really low, and they are incredibly confusing.

The only way to love your partner through something like this is to try understand them. But you also need to understand yourself.  

The greatest misconception that people have about cheaters is if they do it once, they will always do it – “once a cheater, always a cheater, right? Wrong.

Affairs happen more than people think. It’s really easy to say, “If my partner ever did that, I’d leave in a heartbeat!” But when push comes to shove, there’s often way too much at stake. There’s a long history and relationship that’s been cultivated for years, and ending it abruptly is often so difficult to fathom.

More people are staying together after infidelity than the public thinks – they just aren’t talking about it.

I advise my clients who are struggling in this area not to share it with family and friends. When they are working to repair their relationship either by themselves or along with their partner, they are taking the time to heal and to learn new ways of approaching the relationship so that it doesn’t happen again.

When the affair is disclosed to close friends and family that surround them, they are rightfully upset and angered that their sister/brother/friend/daughter/son was treated in such a way. But when the couple comes out on the other end of it with a new perspective, a new relationship, and have healed, their friends and family haven’t done the work that they have, and can be stuck in their anger towards the cheating spouse and often find it difficult to forgive.

Another common misconception about cheating partners is that they are solely responsible for what’s transpired in the relationship. People cheat for many different reasons, but both partners have some responsibility in what was happening in the relationship prior to the infidelity.

It can be incredibly difficult for an injured partner to hear that they somehow played a role in the infidelity. I’m not saying that the infidelity was their fault, and it’s important not to misconstrue or take this out of context, but there are often challenges that are occurring in the relationship prior to a partner stepping outside of it.

It could be as simple as not communicating in a way that one’s partner can hear. Is that totally your fault? No, absolutely not. But that’s when the work in couples counseling becomes about learning how to communicate in a way that will allow your partner to be receptive.

Most people who cheat want their partners to know that they didn’t go into the relationship with the intent to do so.

Sometimes there is a breakdown that happens during the course of the relationship, and the cheating partner feels lost and unable to find their way back. People who cheat don’t always understand why they did it, and it can take months for them to get to a place where they have learned enough about themselves to identify where they got off track, and what lead them to make the horrible decision to cheat.

If your partner has cheated there are a couple of things that you can start doing today to improve your relationship:

1.     Get support. Seek out counseling for yourself with someone who specializes in infidelity issues. You need a sounding board and a safe place to vent your anger and frustration. While it might seem like a good idea to use your partner as that sounding board, it’s really not the greatest way to go about it – you may say things you’ll regret later.

2.     Start journaling. While you’re looking for a therapist get a journal and start writing down your thoughts. This will help you understand your emotions and organize your thoughts in such a way that you can be a better communicator with your partner when you do have those difficult conversations.

3.     Decide what is important to know about the affair and what isn’t. Things like: how does this impact our relationship? Do you understand why you made the decision to go outside of our marriage to find something? Where do you want our relationship to go in the future?

All of those questions are very different than things like: where did you do it? Was she better than me? What types of things did you talk about? These questions fall into the category of what I call, emotional cutting, things that you want to know out of curiosity, even though you know that hearing them is just going to cause you pain.

4.     Start thinking about the boundaries and things that need to happen in order for you to want to move forward and repair your relationship. For most, the first thing is that the affair needs to stop, as does any and all types of communication with the affair partner.

But would you feel more comfortable if you had all email and cell phone passwords for the first few months as you work on the relationship together? Do you need your partner to move to a different department at work so they are no longer in close proximity to the other person? This is where your support and journaling will help to keep you on track, and making sure that you’re asking for things to better your relationship and not just to spite your partner.

It’s difficult to know the exact statistics surrounding infidelity, but it’s estimated that 35% of couples decide to stay together after infidelity, and according to the American Association of Marriage and Family therapists, about 15% of women, and 25% of men say they’ve had sex outside of their marriage. When you factor in things like cyber relationships, and emotional affairs, those numbers increase by 20% according to AAMFT.

The number of couples staying together after infidelity may be even higher, as I stated earlier, many people experiences it but don’t talk about it. It’s a difficult thing to bring up, especially when you’re not sure what the fate of the relationship will be. But the future can be promising if both partners are able to own their faults and learn to create a new relationship that is more fulfilling.

In seeing those statistics, my hope is that you take away the fact that you are not alone.

If your partner has been unfaithful, know that you are not crazy to want to stay, or to want to go, or to have no idea what it is you want, and you’re not crazy for still loving them.

What you’ve experienced is a psychological trauma, and you must treat it as such. Take care of yourself first, and you can make the big decisions later after you’ve started to regain your strength and have gotten the support that you need. 

If you could use some more support in understanding your relationship and what you really want after experiencing infidelity, please reach out and we can talk about ways therapy can help (909) 226-6124

A Closer Look at Infidelity
 
 

Take a moment to think about how your life has been impacted by an affair. It might not have been you that cheated, or your partner that cheated, but I’m willing to bet that someone you know has either cheated or been cheated on. 

You might have seen a friend or family member’s relationship be torn apart after an affair. Or maybe you haven’t. Statistically, more people are staying together these days after an affair has happened, so chances are, you do know someone who has had this touch their lives, but they haven’t talked about it because they were busy getting help and working through it with their partner. 

But why do people cheat? What gets in the way or comes up for a person that causes them to stray and look outside of their relationship? 

I was so honored to have a conversation about all of these things with Dr. Lourdes Viado on her podcast, Women in Depth, and I wanted to share that discussion with you here: 

 
 

On the podcast we talked about how to define an affair, what the emotional impact is after an affair, and how men and women differ in their reactions to cheating, and so much more. 

I really hope you’ll check it out, and share it with your friends. You never know who is going through a tough time, and could benefit from hearing a conversation like this. 

Just in case, here is a direct links to hear the podcast: 


http://lourdesviado.com/02-closer-look-infidelity-alicia-taverner/

Enjoy! 

Is this normal? Losing yourself after Infidelity

The blow of receiving the news that your partner has been unfaithful is mind blowing.

It rocks your world and shatters what you thought you had into a million pieces. You may have trouble sleeping, eating, talking without crying, and you might feel as though you’re obsessed with thinking about your partner and their lover.

It might feel like you’re going crazy, trust me, you’re not.

What you’ve experienced is a trauma. A psychological trauma.

Don’t give me any flack for this comparison, but when soldiers or first responders see things that involve carnage or devastation, there is a physical and emotional response in the body.

Having the person that you love do something that goes against all things that you thought were supposed to happen creates that same physical and emotional response.

I know it seems like a harsh comparison, but the way our minds and bodies respond to trauma is the same.

There are so many things that you may feel you have lost through this trauma, and I want to assure you that they are normal.

The most common is the feeling that you don’t know who you are anymore.

This may seem strange because after all it wasn’t you that strayed. But you might find yourself reacting to your partner in heinous ways, snarling and spitting insults and anger as you struggle to cope and make sense of it all.

It’s normal to ask, “who is this person?” while staring at your angry, tear-stained face in the mirror. Reacting in ways that are completely uncharacteristic of yourself is a normal response to something that is completely uncharacteristic of what you thought your relationship was supposed to be like.

There is a certain loss of specialness that comes with the trauma of infidelity. Hearing that your spouse called another woman the pet name he gave to you, or used your vacation home for secret meetings with a lover will not only be upsetting but it leaves you to question whether or not anything you had was special or sacred. This too is normal.

You might find yourself doing other things completely out of character like obsessively checking cell phone records, emails, and web activity, trying to catch your partner in the act. They may have told you it was over with their lover, but you just can’t trust again, and even though you might not want to obsessively question and ask them to recall every step of their day, you just can’t help it. You might once again question who you are, and where this crazed person came from. As uncomfortable and unsexy as it seems, this too is quite normal.

Another common thing is doing things in desperation to try and win your partner back. As angry and hurt as you are, it would seem normal to just end the relationship, and as bad-ass as it seems to just throw your partner’s belongings out on the lawn and change the locks like they do in the movies, it’s not practical, and there are so many more emotions that aren’t shown.

Years of love that built the foundation of your relationship is difficult to deny, and you might find yourself doing things out of character and obsessing about your partner in ways you never have. Tempting them with sex and gifts, trying to get their attention and remind them of what they could be losing may be uncharacteristic, but it is also normal.

How long will this last?

This is one of the most common questions I receive when working with clients struggling with infidelity. Although I wish I had a finite answer, it’s much like any other trauma in that it’s really difficult to tell. I can’t tell you how long it will take you to get over the loss of a job, or a loved one, and I certainly can’t tell you how long in exact days and hours it will take you to heal from infidelity.

I can tell you that if you are willing to do the work and try to find understanding about yourself and your relationship through the process, it will create space for healing to happen much quicker than if you sweep it under the rug.

If you’ve recently discovered that your partner has been unfaithful, I’d like to offer you my free guide for surviving infidelity. You can get it by signing up here. It’s a guide that provides steps that you can take in the aftermath of infidelity, to help you feel less isolated and alone, and to get you moving towards a space of communicating productively with your partner.