Affairs Part 1 — Can they work out? What about the kids?

Do affairs ever work out for people? What you should know before you end your marriage.

In over 30 years as a marriage counselor, I’ve seen hundreds of couples. I’d say half are dealing with infidelity of one kind or another. Most of the men and women having affairs are good people who weren’t looking for trouble. More often than not, they started out as co-workers or Facebook friends, and ended up having an affair that threatens or ends their marriage.

“Most relationships that start as affairs don’t work out long term—unless both partners are young, childless, close in age, and relatively unencumbered.”

The reason they fail isn’t for lack of genuine feeling, but rather because the fall-out caused by infidelity is so horrendous, and so far-reaching.

Before you decide to end your marriage, make sure your new relationship can survive the fall-out.

Prepare yourself:

  • If both of you have kids, get ready for a rocky ride. As happy as the two of you are, it’s unlikely that your kids will be celebrating your good fortune. Unless your kids have witnessed repeated acts of physical or emotional abuse, they will want their parents to stay together.
  • Kids need stability. They shouldn’t have to worry about a devastated, angry mom or dad, or know that one parent is having a great time while their other parent is suffering.
  • You can’t control your spouse. She (or he) may be so angry, so hurt, so destroyed by your betrayal, that she may not be willing or able to hide her pain from your kids.
  • If your kids hear from their mom that their dad is a “liar,” a “cheater,” or a person who “cares more about his girlfriend than he does about us,” your kids will suffer, and your relationship with them may be damaged forever. (This may sound dramatic, but trust me. Unless all the adults involved exercise great care and excellent boundaries, you may never regain your kids’ trust.)
  • Kid Logic makes children—especially young children—see things as either good or bad, black or white. They see themselves at the center of everything. Because of this, it’s easy for them to believe that you must not love them enough if you left them to be with someone else.
  • Older kids may turn their backs on you, either to protect themselves, avoid public shame, or affirm their loyalty to the parent who was betrayed.
  • Your family may not accept or approve of your new partner. This includes: parents, siblings, and extended family as well as your wife’s parents, siblings, and extended family, and your lover’s parents, siblings, and most importantly, their children.

If, after considering all of these possibilities, you decide end your marriage and pursue your new relationship, proceed with caution.

Watch for Part 2: A list of Dos and Don’ts for parents who are separated or divorced

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Express Yourself Ecards AppExpress Yourself Ecards is a deceptively simple communication app that makes hard things easier to say. Each of the 10 cards helps you find the right words to express what you’re feeling.

Not only do the cards decrease defensiveness in the Reciever. You’ll automatically feel better just by filling one out.So, grab your iPhone or iPad. Try out the app for free. Find out why your brain will love you for it!
Express Yourself Ecards will change the way you talk to each other.  The respect is built into the app!

A note from Betsy Sansby

For years I’ve wanted to share this tool with a wider audience. In its original form, it was a paper and pencil homework tool  I called “The OuchKit.” I designed it for couples in my therapy practice who kept asking me to come home with them so they could have the kind of conversations on their own that they were having when I was there.

And now, with the advent and convenience of the iPhone and iPad, anyone interested in deepening their relationships can use Express Yourself ECards to understand themselves better, and express their feelings more effectively to get a more positive response.  And the best part, is that you don’t need a therapist in the room to help you do it.  For 99 cents, you can do it all by yourself. And it can change your life.

Please let me know how you like using it, and feel free to send me your Express Yourself ECards stories, good or bad.

Express Yourself Ecards app

 

 

I don’t know what to talk about in therapy. What topics should I talk about?

Here’s a question for you that might help. Why are you seeing a therapist if you don’t have anything to talk about?

There are no tricks that will help, but if you’re seeing a therapist, I’m assuming it’s because you’re struggling with some kind of challenge or conflict. It could be, that verbalizing that conflict is a problem in itself.

Therapy is supposed to help you, not entertain, support, or hold the interest of your therapist.

Also, keep in mind that while therapy may produce insight, insight alone doesn’t produce change.Only taking action produces change.

Here are some questions that might get you moving in the right direction. Just remember that your therapy is supposed to help you, not entertain or hold the interest of your therapist. And that insight isn’t change, so even if you get great “Ahas!” what gets people to change is action, not insight.

On to the questions:

• What feels familiar about the challenge you’re dealing with?

• Is there a familiar role you’ve been playing that keeps you stuck or lands you in the same place you’ve been trying to avoid

• In whose company have you felt the most alive, the most accepted, respected, at ease? (There might be different people in each category.)

• When you are in this person’s or people’s company, what is it that they say or do that elicits those feelings in you? For example, I laugh the most—which feels GREAT—with my cousin, Sharon. She thinks I’m hysterical and the more she laughs, the funnier I think I become. But it only happens when we’re on the phone. In person, we don’t laugh as much because she smokes cigarettes and is always antsy to have one, so I don’t think either of us is as relaxed in person as we are when she can smoke while we talk.

• What regrets do you have and what are some concrete steps you might take to forgive yourself, heal an old wound, or try a do-over that will erase your regret?

• Who are the people in whose presence you feel small, unsafe, dull, less-than, or unsure of yourself?

• What is it that each person on that list does that makes you feel this way, and why do you keep going back for more?

• What do you wish you could tell someone from a safe distance about how you really feel? (By the way, if you’re interested in doing this, I’ve created an iPhone app called Express Yourself ECards you can download for free at the App Store. It has a “Can I Be Honest?” ECard you can fill out and send via email. It will help you find the right words to express yourself, without getting blasted for it.)

• What are you spending money on, and what does your spending reveal about your values? For example, are you spending money to fill a void? Create art? Help others? As a substitute for meaningful activities?

All of these questions can be jumping off points for discussions that are likely to lead you to insights. With those insights, you’ll be able to see concrete steps you might need to take to move forward in your life.

I hope this list was helpful. If not, and you still can’t think of anything to talk about, you might be better off spending your time and money doing something that brings you closer to living a more balanced and meaningful life.

All the best, Betsy

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