People have affairs for all kinds of reasons, depending on who they are and what’s going on in their lives. The important thing to remember is – it’s not true that their insufficient partner caused them to go to another for love, etc. It’s not their partner’s fault. Being dissatisfied with one’s partner is a legitimate experience, and being unfaithful is one option, but it often turns out badly for all concerned.
If you want to heal your marriage, the unfaithful partner has to deeply understand the amount of damage that has been done to trust, and they have to know what being betrayed by your life partner really feels like. Saying your sorry, even terribly, terribly sorry, and that you won’t ever do this again, isn’t enough. Once lied to, your partner has every reason to question what you are saying now. You have to demonstrate how sorry you really are, you have to show your partner how you have changed in tangible ways so that there is reason to believe what you are saying now. You have to hear what your partner needs from you in order to ever trust you again. Listening to what your betrayed partner wants from you and being very willing to do what ever you are asked is a demonstration of your truly being sorry.
There’s another piece to this problem – if someone has hurt you and you want to trust they won’t do it again, hurt-er the other has to understand why they did it. If they don’t fully understand why they acted this way, what’s to keep them from (having the same reasons and) doing it again? The unfaithful person needs to learn what motivated them to be unfaithful and make whatever changes are needed so they won’t want, or be motivated, to do this again.
This is a complicated process and takes courage on the part of both couples. The hurt-er has to be able to say what they were feeling, and have the courage to take the risk of saying it. Many people have affairs to escape the way they feel around their partner, Where they may feel: inferior, not loveable, criticized, or just tolerated. They need to feel the opposite of this and go to someone else to receive positive regard.
The hurt-ee has to have the courage to hear this truth and not collapse. They have to be willing now to work on the marriage and realize they have some changing to do as well as the hurt-er, but not collapse into feeling they caused the affair. They can not be put into a one-down position. Both people need to meet each other honestly and realize they both have work to do to turn their relationship around. Sometimes the hurt is over powering and the marriage ends. Sometimes the affair slips into the past as a wake up call to re-make the relationship into something better than it has ever been.
Here is a very helpful tool to learn for a couple when disagreements come. I call it “Minding The Store”, as in, “Is anybody minding the store?”
“Minding the Store” is what is happening when one or the other person remembers to watch the process of what is going on between the two of you, and bring it to the other’s attention. That could sound like “” OH, we’re doing it again -we both need nurturing at the same time so neither of us is in a place to give it, and we are both getting piss-y.” Then, “Do you see it?”
If the couple has agreed to stop the conversation and step back together to look at their interaction at this point, without blaming, the results can be so helpful. The task at hand is to own up to your needing nurturing, and maybe not asking for same very clearly, or whatever else you see about your contribution. And the other person also does this. Often this can bring on wry, cocked eyebrows or a light laughter, which is always helpful.
Suppose some one of you says “Maybe we should take turns?” and the other replies “I feel like a kindergartner, this is too silly.” “But I still want you to listen to me” “OK, lets take turns listening to each other.” And so you do.
Problems magnify when no one is minding the store, and that is perfectly understandable. This is your major support person, your life partner, and emotions run high. Learning the techniques of watching your interaction, seeing it for what it is, and bringing it to the other’s attention is a very useful tool for couples.
I get a lot of questions about this topic.
The questions come in the form of : “How do I know if my therapist thinks I’m ever going to get better?” or “Should I tell my therapists things I am ashamed of” or “How do I tell if my therapist is about to tell me to leave?” or “How do I know if my therapist thinks I’m crazy/have a personality disorder/ finds me hard to work with?” or ” My therapist is suggesting I go to another therapist – is it because she doesn’t like me?” or “I think my problems are pathetic and I should just wise up and get over them. Is that what my therapist thinks too? How can I find out?”
Questions in this vein are all about being afraid to talk directly to the therapist about whatever is on your mind. First of all, I want to remind anyone who decides to go to therapy – us therapists are only hired help. But I also understand that when one makes themselves so vulnerable by baring so much to a therapist, while the therapist of course tells very little about themselves, it can be an uncomfortable, often one -down feeling situation. In my opinion it is part of the therapists job to let the client know that they find the client interesting and likable. I can’t open up to a therapist unless I feel accepted and OK. Since it is the young parts of ourselves that are being aired , these young parts don’t have the cover of our adult modes in the world making us all the more vulnerable. Therefor it’s all the more important to know you are liked and accepted; even parts of yourself that you don’t like very much yourself!
My suggestion is to ask tell the therapist whatever you are feeling in this area of being acceptable to the therapist. Then observe how you are responded to. If you get any of the attitude “What’s the matter with you, of course I accept you as my client or I wouldn’t be here working with you.” In other words ” What’s your problem? This must be about your family” you have got a defensive person as your therapist, an uneducated one, or somebody who has very little empathy. None of these traits make a good therapist. You have a right to look elsewhere.
I don’t think much is accomplished in therapy if you can’t talk freely. You should get a warm, positive response, full of reassurance and intelligence when you tell your therapist your feelings. I hope you do.
This is a question I’ve been asked many times, by clients who come to me and on Quora. Here’s my answer:
I don’t recommend seeing more than one therapist at a time. In fact I won’t see a client who has another therapist, they have to choose.
There is the obvious reason that the two therapists are different people with different ideas and may disagree or take the client in different directions, which could be confusing. But a deeper problem has to do with transference:
If the client had a parent who was abusive or just inadequate, that same parent was probably occasionally functioning well as a parent also. The child, to deal with this uncertainty about what they are going to “get” from the parent often does that the psychiatric community calls “splitting.” In the child’s mind (s)he divides the parent up as “the good Mommy” and “ the bad Mommy” even though the parent is one person. So if the client starts having a negative transference with one therapist that one becomes the “bad Mommy” and the other the ‘good Mommy” which makes it very difficult if not impossible to help the person work through the negative transference. Working through transference problems is often the most important work of therapy. Allowing two therapists is a set up for “splitting,”and it is totally counterproductive to that person having a successful therapy experience. I think it is a bad idea even with clients who appear relatively well; the “walking wounded” successful adult who comes in with a minimum of problems. An exception can be that the primary therapist encourages the client to go to a specific kind of therapy for a specific amount of time for a specific reason, and it is something that the primary therapist doesn’t offer. Examples might be joining a group or going for EMDR therapy.
There are sometimes particular reasons for a client to want two therapists. One not so good one that I have encountered is that having 2 therapists keeps the client from getting close to either therapist. That might not even be conscious for the client, and that avoidance of intimacy won’t be dealt with if they are allowed to have two therapists.