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Food for Thought: Recovering from an affair

| January 27, 2021 12:00 AM

Infidelity is more common than most people realize. In fact, It is estimated 60% of men and 40% of women today will have an extramarital affair during their marriage.

In this article, I will explore the forces that lead to infidelity and what must happen for couples to heal.

Why Affairs Happen

An affair may be a response to a crisis such as the death of someone important, moving to a new city, a job change or some kid of life transition. Sometimes people become bored with their partners and seek sexual or emotional excitement with someone new. Other times stressful events in he family life cycle lead some to seek escape in an affair. This includes things like taking care of aging parents, raising teenagers, and becoming new parents. Then there are those people who seek outside relationships because their expectations of marriage have not been satisfied.

Signs Of Infidelity

None of the following items by themselves mean that infidelity is happening, but they may be of concern if they are part of a larger pattern.

  1. Pays more attention to appearances than in the past. This includes a loss of weight, change of hairstyle, starts to wear a different style of underwear or clothing, begins using different brands of soap, shampoo or perfume.
  2. Starts to use breath mints
  3. Stops wearing the wedding ring
  4. The position of the passenger car seat is changed.
  5. One number is repeated on the cell phone bill.
  6. Secretive about computer use.
  7. Frequently does not answer cell phone in your presence.
  8. Gives vague answers where s/he can be reached.
  9. Has sudden work obligations that s/he did not have before.
  10. Has extra key on key ring.
  11. Smells like s/he just took a shower.
  12. Seems emotional distant or preoccupied.
  13. Seems less interested in family activities or in you.
  14. Changes in sexual behavior, wanting either more or less.
  15. You have a gut feeling something is wrong.

Recovery Strategies

Even though infidelity has a devastating impact on marriages, many do survive. Let’s look at what it takes for a relationship to survive. If you are unfaithful and want to save your marriage, stop the affair and seek marriage counseling to find out what is wrong.

If your partner was unfaithful and you want to save the marriage:

  1. Acknowledge your anger and express it productivity.
  2. Be aware of distorted thoughts that fuel your anger.
  3. Watch out for negative beliefs that make it harder to heal your relationship.
  4. Find a way to explore and express your feelings, such as writing in a journal.
  5. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of saving your marriage.
  6. Seek professional help.

Prevention Steps

Finally, there are some things you can do to protect your marriage from becoming an infidelity statistic.

  1. Pay attention to your partner. Be aware of his or her needs and do your best to meet them.
  2. Think about how you behaved when you were trying to win your partner over. Do the same things now.
  3. Make sex fun.
  4. Look for opportunities to talk and listen.
  5. Be thoughtful and romantic. Send cards, flowers and gifts.
  6. Avoid high risks situations. Discuss these with your partner and ask him or her to do the same.
  7. Say nice things about your partner, in public and in private.
  8. Spend regular private time together.
  9. Show you are glad to see your partner. Be energized and pleasant.
  10. Recommit to your values and marriage vows.
  11. Accept that you are responsible for your own well being and not your partner.
  12. Look for ways to express appreciation and respect.
  13. Think of ways to enhance your partner’s self esteem.

In order to reap the rewards, marriage needs to be worked on consistently and not placed on a shelf.

Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D., LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She cans be contacted at 406 827-0700.