Affairs happen in happy marriages as well as troubled marriages. An affair does not mean something is missing at home. It can happen at any particular life stage or in any particular pattern.
There are external stressors that push people off balance. It could be a tremendous success in career where one feels inflated and entitled, or one might be feeling inadequate in some way and it could be a boost to one’s ego, could be the birth of a child, family illness or change of living circumstances.
There are so many reasons why people decide to stray from their commitment and responsibility. I have found through my work with couples that it oftentimes has to do with the betrayer who is looking to find something in themselves. While it might hurt that they are searching for it outside of the relationship, it does not mean they are unhappy with you. Blaming yourself, doubting self and taking responsibility for the affair is a common reaction. Thinking that “you” are the cause of an extramarital affair is an inaccurate assumption.
After the devastating disclosure of infidelity, intense emotions occur and it is normal for the couple to experience depression, anxiety and a profound sense of loss. The reactions of the betrayed spouse resemble post traumatic stress syndrome. Common reactions to the loss of innocence, trust and shattered assumptions include obsessing about the details of the affair, flashbacks and intrusive images. It can be extremely traumatizing for those who had the greatest trust and were most unsuspecting.
Whatever the case may be, many marriages/relationships can and do survive infidelity and many can actually become stronger and more intimate when there is a commitment, desire and want on both sides. It becomes a wake-up call that something is terribly wrong that needs to be addressed. This could be a time for re-connecting, improving communication, and learning more about each other.
Of course, this cannot be done without first healing the pain of infidelity. Looking at the relationship as an opportunity to gain insight for both can have many benefits for self growth. Instead of calling it quits immediately, it’s best to have a good understanding of what led your relationship down this path. Leaving without knowing what actually happened, increases the probability of repeating the same pattern a second time.
Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, has a team of licensed professionals who can help you navigate through this difficult process. Counselors are available day, evening and weekend hours. Visit us www.hellenictherapy.com or call 908-322-0112.
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