The discovery of an affair is one of the most painful and damaging experiences for a monogamous couple. When the affair is revealed, the betrayed partner is left to sit with a slew of debilitating and upsetting feelings. They want to know why the affair happened, and demand information from their partner in elaborate detail. They may blame their partner for ruining the trust that existed between them, and feel unable to see anything other than their partner’s inconsiderate and self-serving actions as a means to a selfish end.
In the Huffington Post, a recent excerpt from Tammy Nelson’s book, The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tammy-nelson-phd/why-did-the-affair-happen_b_2981223.html?ir=divorce), illuminates the ways in which an affair may say more about a relationship than ‘cheating’. Without minimizing the pain caused by an affair, she also points out that an affair is rarely something that is as secret and unknown as we may like to believe. In fact, she points to a study from 1995 that shows that the overwhelming majority of betrayed spouses admitted to having had some conscious awareness that an affair was happening, even though they did not consciously acknowledge it in the moment.
An affair is one of many ways to leave a relationship, but as Nelson points out, it…”can be a powerful and damaging way to avoid the intimacy of a monogamous partnership”. In addition, she emphasizes that while the partner who engaged in the affair does have to take responsibility for their actions, that when asked to trace back to the starting point of the affair, there was almost always some connection to a feeling that their partner had already, in some way, left the relationship.
Are you exiting your relationship without being conscious of it? Are you working late, or spending endless hours surfing the web, playing computer games, and looking for ways to disengage from your partner to avoid intimacy or conflict? Are you willing to open up to yourself and your partner about your fears of intimacy, or discomfort with conflict? Is it time to recreate a stronger and more satisfying partnership, two feet in the door, together?
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