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‘Tis the Season (of Affairs)

June 29, 2009

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‘Tis the season of weddings and affairs. We’re all guilty of  slowing down to look at the crash scenes of public figures who’ve had affairs.  But what is less common is slowing down to understand how their relationships fare afterwards.  It may come as a surprise to some, but as Elizabeth Edwards said, an affair doesn’t have to define a long marriage. Despite the prevalence of affairs, different surveys suggest that the divorce rate is going down, even among partners who count an affair in their history.  That’s what I’ve seen in my clinical practice. In addition to the stereotypic scoundrel, good people have affairs, even partners in otherwise good marriages have affairs.  And therapists, many of whom were trained to be marriage-neutral are becoming more marriage-friendly, as they actively identify resources to help couples heal.  Since surveys say little about how real life people actually heal, let me share a few tips.

First, come clean, and stop contact with the affair partner. Next, the injured partner needs to come up with a list of small and large changes his or her partner (yes, women have affairs too)  needs to make to rebuild trust.  Also identify why the marriage was vulnerable.  Was it as simple as opportunity?  Or a spouse having a mid-life crisis?  A friend who became more than a friend? Or did other strains in the marriage contribute to a partner’s affair?  There are as many reasons as there are marriages.  The path back to trust can feel like a bumpy ride in a minefield. But for many couples, with shared interests, a shared history, children, and yes–love–taking the time to explore reconciliation is an important process, which at the least will let you know you’ve acted with thoughtfulness, and with the hope of regained marital integrity, whatever the outcome. So like many injured partners, Jenny Sanford recently declared–first move out–then–let’s work on it. As we slow down to observe what went wrong, let’s also give them credit for trying to work it out.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2009 2:09 am

    B the website looks great.

  2. Jane permalink
    June 30, 2009 2:56 am

    I agree. Love the orange text. Very soothing, yet professional. Great look…to match great content.

  3. Catherine Murphy permalink
    June 30, 2009 12:53 pm

    B, this is terrific. Hope you’re enjoying the summer.

  4. Martie Gillin permalink
    June 30, 2009 3:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing your years of experience and wisdom with us.
    It helps us with our own relationships and gives us an understanding into our children and their challanges. You are awesome! thank you.

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