There is a lot in the media lately about infidelity. Especially regarding Governor Mark Sanford from South Carolina.
I was interviewed on KTVK – News Channel 3 by Tara Hitchcock about surviving an affair on Good Morning Arizona on Thursday, June 25, 2009.
Here are more of my thoughts about cheating on your partner.
Having sex with someone other than your marriage partner is the distinguishing factor that makes an affair a betrayal. Cheating, i.e., going out with someone without sex when you are supposedly in a committed relationship is also a betrayal. A betrayal of the heart is devasting. The secrecy of an affair makes honesty impossible.
An affair is often only the tip of the iceberg. There are usually problems below the surface that you must be committed to work on together. It’s a complex and painful situation to be in. If there is a desire for both love partners to move through it, you must work together to resolve the anguish of betrayal, to rebuild trust, to agree to change problematic behavioral patterns and to discover together the real issues that caused the affair in the first place. Each love partner must agree to openly discuss the deep-seated and potentially explosive issues that are a result of affairs.
Surviving the emotional crash of an affair IS possible!
In the book, “After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful (HarperCollins) by Janis Abrahms Spring & Michael Spring, Janis says: “Trust CAN be restored and the relationship saved if 3 things exsist: #1. Unfaithful partners have to be able to experience compassion for the harm they have caused and be able to feel remorse and apologize; #2. Unfaithful partners have to be able to look honestly and deeply into themselves and understand WHY they strayed; #3. Unfaithful partners have to be willing to do the work necessary to EARN back trust (and be patient with their partner while they do).”
The betrayed partner has to be willing to forgive! If you think you cannot forgive, then recovery may not be possible! To not forgive is like taking the poison (continuing to suffer for what they did or didn’t do to you) and expecting them to die.
By the way, there is nothing that cannot be forgiven. Why? Because you always have choice. Read: Forgiveness… What’s it For?
Learning to trust again takes time; lots of time, perhaps months and even years. Talking with their partner about the affair when the need to talk surfaces is another important factor of healing the relationship. Their partner must learn to listen and offer whatever support their partner needs without becoming defensive or angry. The guilty partner needs to know that patience is a virtue that must be practiced for the relationship to heal.
Effective communication is a requirement of a healthy, wholesome, happy and successful relationship! There is no other way.
Trust is the very foundation of a healthy love relationship! There can be no trust without conversation; no genuine intimacy without trust.
When you are getting your needs met in your own relationship, most people agree that you are seldom tempted to look elsewhere!
The 3 most primary needs for a woman are affection, understanding and, most of all, r-e-s-p-e-c-t. The 3 most primary needs for a man are appreciation, acceptance and trust. There are many other needs that are important, however when you are not getting your needs met, some people go where they can. This is never a good idea while you are still in the relationship!
An affair doesn’t have to signal the end of a relationship. In fact, if both love partners are willing to work hard, an affair can bring problems that were lurking in the depths of the relationship up to the surface for the purpose of healing. It can also be the means for drawing the couple closer together.
For the relationship to go forward, however, saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. Just because your love partner is no longer cheating doesn’t mean the problem has disappeared. If they want another chance, they must immediately break off all contact and communication with the other person; no phone calls, no letters, no e-mail, no texting, no Twitters, nothing! They also needs to explore, both in their own mind and in discussions with each other, what was the cause of the affair.
“I don’t know!” is never a good answer. Saying “I don’t know!” stops the inquiry!
The betrayed one needs to know two things: (1) what caused the affair, and (2) what assurance they have that it will never happen again! Although the one betrayed may think they need to know all the details, they don’t. This is never a good idea! That would only cause deeper feelings of hurt and cause the space between them to widen.
By the way, an affair is seldom, if ever, only one partner’s fault. Always remember, relationship problems are shared problems. Each partner must take their share of the responsibility for what happened and promise to work together to make the relationship work.
If the betrayed love partner really loves the other and is willing to work through the pain of a changing relationship, the other partner hopefully will thank their lucky stars that their partner is willing to give them another chance and must work their butt off to earn forgiveness, respect and trust that the relationship must have to survive. Both partners need to set new goals for your relationship and develop new ways to create intimacy.
Your comments are always welcome!
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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