Wednesday, July 29, 2015

after the affair

As a marital therapist I see a lot of couples after an affair.   

Usually, the partner who has been betrayed will experience tremendous difficulty trusting the unfaithful partner again.  Unfortunately, the unfaithful partner is often unable to explain “why” the affair happened and is therefore unable to reassure his or her partner that it will never happen again.

The betrayed partner then naturally has trouble getting past the affair and often asks repeatedly, and painfully, without answer: “Why?  Why did it happen? How could you love me and still betray me?  It makes no sense."

And it’s true.  The two just do not fit together: you cannot care for someone and hurt him or her at the same time.

So why do we betray those we love?

Usually affairs occur when there has been too much of a drain on our resources.  The infidel may have set aside his own needs beyond containment to where they begin to seep out imperceptibly like an odorless, invisible gas liable to explode at any minute.  Then someone lights a match and the unilateral focus shifts from “other” to “me”.  The shift is usually violent, as if the flip-switch to conscience has gone “off”, and therefore has the potential to cause much harm not just to my partner, but to myself as well when I “come to”.

We can put aside our needs temporarily but not extinguish them. My needs have to be met, I have to maintain a steady state of stability, or homeostasis, in order to remain present and compassionate to both myself and someone else.

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