Call it a quintessential power play or the consequence of unbalanced control in a marriage, infidelity is very hard to digest truth for a couple.
Surprisingly, it has become the number one reason for the breakup of a happy relationship and destroyer of the institution of marriage all over the world!
The partner who has been hurt by his spouse finds it very difficult to trust any other relationship in the future. There is emotional turmoil, post-traumatic stress, loss of self-worth and a blatant eagerness to know the minute details of the affair to gain a feeling an emotional control.
So, how does a couple safeguard their marriage against this great evil which can corrode their love forever, unless they completely forget the past?
Why infidelity occurs?
. Dissatisfaction with your relationship
· Unfulfillment of companionship and intimacy – emotional and physical, security and stability.
· Lack of communication of needs to each other
· Falling out of love or growing apart for a long time
· Power play- thinking you deserve it due to your power and position.
· Dishonesty towards your partner
· Lack of admiration, respect or connection
· Loneliness and low self-esteem
· sexual addiction and lack of self-control
· emotional/mood disturbances
Stages of infidelity
1. The partner having a problem with his or her spouse due to any of the reasons stated above thinks that the relationship is now messed up because of their faults and negative attitude.
2. They slowly start thinking it is their partner’s fault that the marriage is not working out and start the blame game on their already depressed partner.
3. After reaching a point of deadlock and no consensus on their issues, the blame is shifted to incompatibility between the two of them as a couple.
4. At this stage, they start having a problem with their marriage vows and life-long commitment, as there is no way out of the relationship. They are not even ready to leave their partner but still dreading their marriage choices.
Signs you need to meet the counsellors
You suspect something due to the strange behavior of your partner who refuses to clarify your doubts and uses a guarded tone when questioned.
· Your spouse has been hiding his or her chats and conversations lately and has even resorted to deleting conversations out of fear of being caught.
· Your intimacy has been affected the most and there are innumerable excuses of being tired or not in the mood given by your partner.
· There are often arguments between the two of you like:
“I do not understand why you are feeling so insecure nowadays, she is my colleague!”
“He is just a long-lost friend…”,
“You are so unreasonable, how can I fire her!”,
“Do you want me to stop talking to the opposite sex?”
“You are suspecting me of having an affair? How could you even think of that?”
· Your spouse seems emotionally distant, disturbed and depressed all the time. There is no enthusiasm from their side towards improving your marriage and daily life.
· Your partner is always angry, critical, impatient and even abusive sometimes. Other disturbing behaviors like constant put-downs, constantly picking fights and refusing to help out in the home, abusing children are also some extreme signs.
· There has been a marked increase in official trips, business meetings, work-related stress and a need to work out of town most of the time.
· A dangerous disease or prolonged illness has caused you to be sidestepped by your partner, in this critical time of need. Lesser attention and care towards your health are sure-shot signs of an affair.
· Social gatherings have become an embarrassment to your partner due to his or her flirtatious behavior with the opposite sex.
Questions likely to be discussed with marriage counsellor
A set of uncomfortable but truthful questions will be discussed since the topic is infidelity. It is very important to not lie and tell the truth to the level of comfort of your partner.
It’s true that it will be painful to hear the details but this is why counseling is necessary at this stage to initiate the road to recovery and deal with the pain of the past, to leave it behind one day in the future.It will also set the stage for self-correction and analysis, reasons for the betrayal and emotional healing for the betrayed partner.
· What were you thinking when you decided to get involved outside the marriage?
· What were the main reasons which caused you to drift apart to this extent?
· Were you feeling guilty when you decided to make it a physical relationship in the affair?
· Did you feel sorry or guilty for your spouse once you had betrayed him or her?
· Did you think it was an emotional affair and not physical, hence you could carry it on?
· What do you think sustained the affair for the period of your involvement? (especially if you knew it was being unfaithful to your spouse)
· Did you share the pitfalls of your marriage with your lover and hence got involved emotionally with him or her?
· Were you contemplating divorcing your spouse and starting a new future during the affair?
· Which quality of your affair partner attracted you the most?
· Which aspect of your personality felt privileged (and enjoyable) while you were having the affair?-ego, looks, intimacy, self-confidence, self-assertion, controlling nature, domination.
Advice to expect from marriage counsellors
Knowledge and education are always keys to empowerment and personal growth.
· You heal from affairs by asking questions and gaining a greater understanding of why this affair happened and what’s going to be different so it doesn’t happen again, and by processing your emotions, which are very valid.
· You also heal by learning to understand affairs in the wider perspective of our culture, instead of seeing your situation as one of few unlucky ones.
· Emotions like anger and sadness are healthy and normal and are given to you naturally to help you get through difficult times. You treat the disease. You don’t try to deny it exists. You do have questions and emotions. I healed by processing them, not by trying to suppress or limit them.
· Your counselor is a professional whose job is to inform and guide you, but not undermine your decision to stay married-it is your choice as a couple to decide where your relationship is headed.
· Only you will live with the outcome of the decisions you make right now, not your counselor, so take the advice with a pinch of salt and trust your intuition.
· The feeling of ambivalence and doubt whether you love your partner or not, can trust them or not is quite normal. But, it is your heart and your observation power which will ultimately guide you in taking the final call.
· No effort towards improving the marriage, not feeling sorry for the betrayal, the regret of being caught are sure signs that your partner is definitely not ready to go on with the marriage. You have to decide the extent to which this can be tolerated and choose the path which will give you peace in the end.
· Lying solves no one’s issues-the betrayed and the betrayer is creating a ground for something similar if they lie to themselves and to each other.
· Do not try to protect your spouse from the pain of the affair by minimizing or hiding the truth- it is better to show the mirror rather than leave the worst thoughts to their imagination.
· Decide upon the level of details you want to know and you want to ignore or put behind on the path to forgiveness and reunion. This decision should be taken by the betrayed spouse depending on what information is better known or hidden for easing their pain and help them heal.
· Digging into the real cracks which caused you to drift apart is essential to prevent this damage again in the future. It should be dealt with a clean and forgiving heart by the betrayed spouse and renewing complete trust and faithfulness of the marriage by the betraying partner.
Premarital counseling can help the couple become knowledgeable of the various boundaries and pitfalls which a strained relationship can cause in the long run. Becoming aware of each other’s needs and aiming for a healthy relationship no matter how bad the arguments are is the main motive.
If the couple is not well-informed before jumping on the marriage bandwagon then they may be in for a rude shock if their partner strays at some point of time in the relationship.
Knowing all the sure-shot signs and reasons why couples drift apart to become emotionally vulnerable to a third person should be the first topic to be discussed for any type of marriage in the world.
Betrayal and infidelity are similar to a prolonged illness which can kill the relationship in an instant if not controlled immediately with professional help.