Archive for the ‘Infidelity’ Category

Don’t have an affair.

May 13, 2014

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“The course of true love never did run smooth” – Shakespeare (A Midsummers Night Dream)

Well my friends, I know I can’t tell you what to do but I am going to tell you anyway…..don’t have an affair. I know this seems like a stupid statement, one that doesn’t even need to be stated because everyone already knows it but really….so many kind, good, confused and frustrated partners are having affairs!

Maureen and I have been seeing a rush of couples lately who are coping with the devastating fallout of affairs.

We know that no one wakes up and says “I’m going to embark on an affair today…” Instead you gradually move away from your partner and, at the time, your reasons seem justified.

It could be that you feel disconnected from your partner, or your sex life is in the gutter or you feel criticized at home all too often or you just don’t feel that spark anymore or you travel for work so much and get lonely or you find yourself spending too much time with someone from the office that truly believes in you or….fill in the blank. The reasons are endless  – still,  DON’T DO IT!

Shakespeare said it best: “Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive”.  Lies have short legs. When you lie you always get found out and then your life will be filled with regret. Believe me, you will cause yourself more pain and heartache than you can imagine. If you have children they too will be affected ultimately. One of the hardest things to work through post disclosure is coming to terms with the fact that you betrayed your partner.

I know you might not be happy in your relationship. You may even have been unhappy for a long time. I am just saying DON’T DEAL WITH YOUR UNHAPPINESS BY HAVING AN AFFAIR. Imago theory tells us that  affairs happen because lots of things in the relationship are not going well and having an affair helps you feel alive again. Affairs are the result of an already existing rupture that seems impossible to fix. Still DON’T DO IT;  it is not the answer. Maureen and I do know from working with couples for over 20 years that the worst and most painful thing to get past is an affair.

Instead of having an affair see if you can muster up the courage to  figure out why things feel so bad in your  relationship and begin to take steps to fix them. That might include coming for therapy or to our Getting the Love You Want workshop (next one is May 23-25 2014  – I promise it will begin transform your relationship).  It may include sitting down with your partner and having a difficult conversation about the state of things between the two of you. For some of you, it may even include taking a short term break from each other in order to decrease the tension. These are difficult conversations to have but they are honest.  Being honest, especially when it is  hard, says a whole lot more about you as a person than being deceitful does.

Finally – if you find yourself justifying your actions, keeping secrets and lying you are already on the slippery slope of no return. Don’t do it my friend; don’t have an affair.

Dare ya- Have the tough conversation about yourself and your experience in your relationship.

– Tamara

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I Cheated! Now I Want My Partner Back!

July 12, 2011

In this post from YourTango.com, Tim Atkinson interviewed Maya Kollman, MA, Imago Master Trainer

John only had a short affair. And it was a long time ago. Years later the truth came to light and his marriage to Maryanne hit the critical list. Maryanne didn’t want the marriage to end. But how could she ever again trust John? John desperately wanted to be forgiven for the past, and find a way for the marriage to continue.

By the time they came to see me for help, they were completely stuck, hopeless and miserable. Unfortunately they aren’t alone. I’ve worked with many other couples in a similar situation, and always my goal is to leave them with a much more rewarding relationship than they ever had before.

Here are the steps that John and Maryanne were able to take, which illustrates how many couples can rebuild trust and transform their nightmares:

Step 1: Make a Clear Decision

When there is an infidelity, there’s a decision to be made. The unfaithful party must immediately cease all contact with the person they have been seeing; no phone calls, no emails, no texts, no cards or notes, no drive-bys. John’s essential first step with Maryanne was to commit willingly and wholeheartedly to emotional and physical fidelity – and to mean it.

Step 2: Shift from Guilt to Remorse

John felt guilty about his affair and horrible about himself. Unfortunately feeling guilty didn’t help at all. It led John to be quiet and keep his distance. But what he couldn’t see was that as a result Maryanne felt shut out. This formed a downward spiral, leaving her feeling even more tense, unhappy, and unloved.

Guilt is useless! Don’t let it ruin your relationship. Guilty people are so absorbed in their own feelings that they can’t even see what is happening for someone else. John’s guilt was driving his wife even further away from him.

The dramatic change came when John made the huge shift from guilt to remorse, and focused on the pain Maryanne was experiencing instead of his own. He got interested in what was going on for her. Feeling compassionate rather than self critical, John was able to begin creating connection with Maryanne rather than distance.

Step 3: Be willing to sit and listen

If you are going to leave an affair behind, sooner or later you have to talk about it. John had to be willing to let Maryanne ask for whatever details she wanted to hear. What’s more, he needed to listen to her feelings of betrayal and hurt in a supportive way. That’s extremely tough to do, which is why John and Maryanne chose to do this part with me, over several therapy sessions.

To make it easier, I taught John and Maryanne a three-part communication skill called the Imago Dialogue. We worked together to bring respect to the dialogue structure by eliminating shame, blame and criticism as John and Maryanne learned to focus on their own deeper feelings and express them.

John and Maryanne found a deep understanding of one another. A deep connection was building, perhaps deeper than they had ever experienced before.

Step 4: Re-imagine your role in the relationship

Although John felt and understood Maryanne’s pain, internally he still had plenty of excuses for the affair. He still wanted to justify his actions to her in some way, but every time he did he undermined his attempts to rebuild trust.

Instead, I coached John to take on a new role, as protector of the relationship.
He prepared himself, like a martial arts expert might. He knew that he would have to be able to absorb Maryanne’s anger and yet still hold his ground. Just like in Aikido. He worked on calming his reactive tendencies with breathing exercises, used music to calm himself, and learned to sit in a grounded position when he talked with Maryanne.

Creating new mental images was another important step. In addition to seeing the pain he had caused, he also recalled positive times in their years together, and all the things that led him to fall in love with Maryanne. All of these actions helped John’s romantic, creative side come alive, and he began to court Maryanne much like he had when they first met.

Naturally, Maryanne responded by beginning to feel more trusting and secure.

Step 5: When it’s time – explore and repair

Up until now, we’ve really only talked about John examining himself. But it takes two to make a relationship. For complete healing, John and Maryanne became a team to understand how their histories and their present day dynamics may have made them vulnerable to an affair.

But it’s important to complete steps 1 to 4 first. That’s because Maryanne can’t feel safe to explore until she truly feels John’s remorse.

This is very tender territory and can be aided tremendously by the coaching of an Imago therapist. Just like steel rods are broken and re-soldered many times to make them stronger, a relationship can emerge from a betrayal stronger than before when the couple are willing to climb the above steps.