Posts tagged infidelity rancho cucamonga
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. 

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. 

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.

Am I to blame for my partner’s Affair?
Am I to blame for my partner's affair?

Hindsight is always 20/20. Always. It’s just too easy to look back on an event and not see the signs, find the flubs, and scrutinize the details that were missed.

When you discover that your partner has had an affair, it’s common to press rewind on the last year of your life together and look for all the signs you should have seen and things you missed. The times they were out late and didn’t invite you, the times they were on the phone way too long with their work colleague and you gave them the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to rock the boat.

When hindsight is 20/20, it’s easy to place blame on yourself for missing the signs, or not acknowledging them or acting on your gut feeling in the moment. But the truth is, relationships are generally built on trust and it isn’t foolish to trust someone you love and are committed to.

As much as you’d probably like it to, the past can’t be erased, and the future of your relationship is what matters.

Many times I have clients who say things like, “I guess the last year was just one big lie. When we took that romantic vacation, and he said all those wonderful things to me, it must’ve been a lie!”

I beg to differ. Your partner saying they love you, and having an affair are not dependent upon one another. People can compartmentalize things in such a way that makes this possible. While I acknowledge that it’s confusing, I don’t believe that what is said in a moment of romance between you and your partner isn’t true for them. Just as what’s happening for them in the moments they share with someone they are having an affair with are also very real.

What you do in the aftermath of an affair is what matters most. How you handle and set new boundaries for your partner moving forward is where you can take charge, and ask for what you need.

I have seen clients that feel as though it is now their duty to punish their partner at all costs after discovering their affair. They tell their kids, they tell their friends, their family, and anyone else who will listen in an attempt to get their partner to feel shame for their transgressions.

When this happens, it creates a space that is no longer safe. Trust is one of the most difficult things to rebuild after infidelity, but when the injured partner creates a space of punishment at every corner, things can truly backfire and this often sends the straying partner back into the arms of the other.

So while you are not to blame for your partner straying in the first place, it is your responsibility to create a space and relationship after the affair where communication is open, and you are both able to be authentic as you push towards creating a new normal.

Looking back on the signs that you missed won’t do a lot of good. What will be beneficial is to identify your responsibility and contributions towards the rocky patch in your relationship that lead to your partner’s affair.

Did you stop communicating? Did you put your job ahead of your relationship? Did you stop nurturing the friendship between you and your partner? Once you can identify your role, you will have a good place to start the healing process.

You can only control yourself, and you can only work on changing yourself in the aftermath of an affair. You can change how you relate to your partner, how you communicate with them, and how you show up in your relationship, but without looking at yourself and really taking an inventory of what you need to change, there is no starting point.

Starting over can be a challenge, whether you’re starting over after an affair, or starting over completely, I’d like to help with the launch of my new e-course, The Starting Over Series. To get on the interest list and to receive more details about this at-home course that will be launching in the very near future, click here

More than I'm sorry: Helping your partner heal after infidelity
healing after infidelity

Infidelity can rock your relationship to the core. It brings out so many things and what’s amazing is that some of those things have the ability to make it stronger. After infidelity, many couples who decide to stay together find themselves talking more, sharing their needs more, and making their feelings and emotions known like never before. 

As I’ve talked about before, when there has been infidelity and it’s been decided by the couple that they want to start the healing process, each partner needs to play a role in this. It isn't just the partner who has strayed's responsibility to repair the relationship but he or she does play a major role. 

One of my favorite clinicians in the field of psychology and couples therapy is Esther Perel, and she talks about a very important concept in overcoming infidelity, and it is that if you have been unfaithful to your partner but would like to do the work to keep the relationship together, you must hold vigil for your relationship. What does this mean? 

Holding vigil means that it is now your responsibility to not only acknowledge the hurt and pain that's been caused by your actions, but also acknowledge triggers for your partner before they happen. Through the healing process and especially if you've been working with a therapist to help get through this difficult time in your relationship, you'll come to understand places and things that trigger your partner to recall your affair. 

Triggers are powerful and have the ability to bring an injured partner to their knees, causing them to revert back to square one, and cause all the pain of discovering the affair to come rushing back to them. Triggers can be so many things that just remind an injured partner of the event and of the pain they've felt since. 

Holding vigil means that you take the time to bring those triggers up in anticipation of them happening, when it is appropriate. For example, if you know that your partner will be triggered by a certain event like being in a specific place because you had an encounter with the other person there, rather than just preparing yourself for the repercussions of their emotions you need to take action. 

If you know that your partner is triggered by you going out of town for work because an affair occurred when you were traveling, as a work trip approaches it is then your responsibility to bring up the trip and acknowledge that you understand how this trip will make your partner feel. Be the one to broach the subject, be the one to reflect the hurt feelings, and be the one to say that you are there to hear about those feelings, and be the one to implement important changes during this trip to create a sense of security for your partner. Will you check in more frequently by phone, Skype, or text? Will you be sharing a room with a work colleague? Will you avoid the bar and drinks after dinner? What will you do instead? 

Taking the time and energy to acknowledge your partner’s triggers and emotions, and creating a plan for security will help immensely in the healing process. This isn’t about beating yourself up, or being an emotional punching bag, but it is about taking an extra step to show your partner that you understand their feelings, and that you are there with them working through these difficulties with them.

I’ve had clients who have been injured by an affair tell me how elated they are when their partners do this. They describe it as a feeling of being understood, of being appreciated, and they say it is a relief because they were not the ones who had to bring it up.

They often feel relieved at not having to always ruin a perfectly nice evening with their partner by dredging up their emotions about an upcoming event that may trigger them. They feel understood when their partners acknowledge that a song or a movie makes them feel a flood of negative emotions even before they get that look on their faces. That acknowledgement is powerful and leads to connection and healing.

If you are having trouble holding vigil in your relationship after an affair, consulting a therapist can be an excellent path towards healing. I’d love to hear from you and point you in the right direction, and you may reach me at (909) 226-6124 for a free consultation.