Affair Recovery: Is it Possible?
I recently watched a TED Talk by the world renown relationship expert, Esther Perel, about infidelity. http://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_rethinking_infidelity_a_talk_for_anyone_who_has_ever_loved
In it, she points out that the data about the occurrence of affairs is hard to pin down because the definition of an affair or infidelity is varied. She says that the numbers range from 26% to 75% depending on the source. That’s very common even at the low end. So it seems that information about affairs and their impact on our lives is extremely important for all of us.
I have worked for quite some time now with couples reeling in the aftermath of the discovery of an affair, or individuals who have been affected by an affair in their relationship—either because they are in the midst of one, grieving the end of one, or blown apart by the discovery of their partner’s affair.
I think that Ms. Perel’s assertion that affairs can be the final blow to an already damaged marriage or relationship, or may in fact be the greatest opportunity, is absolutely correct. The chance to examine and search for what she terms “lost parts” of ourselves or our partners is invaluable. She jokes that she isn’t “pro-affair”, and to be so would be akin to being “pro-cancer.” But in the aftermath of such a life-changing event, one cannot help but be somehow different.
I have suggested on many occasions to the couples I have been privileged to work with that, that they may eventually come to be grateful for the discovery of the affair. I am often initially met with doubting looks to put it mildly.
You don’t just get married or move in together and never feel an attraction for any other person ever again. You don’t simply remain “in love” and tremendously attracted to your partner either. The intimacy and closeness in a relationship takes work. It takes attention. It needs to be tended to and nurtured, in a conscious, deliberate way. The awareness of this is the gift that can come from of the discovery of an affair. Even in instances in which one partner does not know about the affair because it is neither discovered nor disclosed, the person having the affair has an opportunity to explore the meaning of the affair. They can learn about the desires and the longing that may have led to the crossing of some line. In that process of reflection, there is a fantastic chance to grow—t o be more mindfully aware, and to clarify who we are and what we value.
When there is a discovery that leads to the trust being broken between two people, it can seem like an overwhelming blow, one that seems impossible to recover from. However, I have witnessed the beautiful transformation that can happen between two people as they work to understand themselves and each other, and to truly love one another through the most painful of processes. I have seen the bond or connection that deepens in the most remarkable ways as people share their most vulnerable selves, and find that the person that they once felt a giddy in love feeling with, can see all their flaws, forgive their mistakes, and still remain lovingly there –committed to the relationship. It takes time, and work, and hope, and patience, but yes, you can recover.
For help with Affair Recovery contact Claire Zimmerman at [email protected]