Infidelity in Marriage

Tony Fryer, MFT can help counsel families through infidelity in marriage

“Why did you do it? How could you do this to me and the kids? What were you thinking? Do you love me? Can I ever trust you again? Was our relationship a lie?”

I have listened to so many couples coming for marriage advice and relationship counseling after infidelity and the questions are many. No couple is ever the same as another and yet there are some similar situations around the experience of infidelity in marriage. Often we are lead to believe that it is only bad people who have affairs and yet I can say that my experience has been quite the contrary. I think most people can accept that the action of having an affair is bad, as it violates the bonds and contract of marriage.

Marriage is a relationship with huge expectations and when the expectation of fidelity is broken the pain is immense. Many people will decide to divorce and others will move on with the marriage and never really deal with or try to understand the trauma that has occurred. Most of my work has been with couples who want to try to understand what has happened, forgive and see if they can find a way to save their relationship. These are the couples that I am talking about here. They usually come in with very intense emotions and wonder if they can turn things around. Often the person who had the affair is guilt-ridden and wants to leave the whole thing behind and move on. They can be frustrated that their partner is unable to do likewise. The partner is often deeply wounded and angry and unsure whether they can ever again trust their spouse. They doubt every aspect of the relationship and the affair seems to block out or call into question any positive relationship attributes.

As time moves on I find that the vast bulk of couples come to understand their life and relationship differently. I see them leave with a relationship that is more communicative than it has ever been. They don’t forget, nor should they. They learn more about what they want from a relationship. The person who had the affair accepts full responsibility for the terrible choice they made, that could have destroyed the marriage they want. The couple both put more effort into how they relate and develop more openness with their feelings, needs and desires. My experience has been that this couple ends up with a relationship that, ironically, is deeper than it has ever been.

Traumas are never desirable (including an affair) but when they are worked through healthily, can often immensely increase our understanding. It requires both partners being prepared to work hard in couples therapy.

Tony Fryer

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My Feelings

Cincinnati marriage and family therapy

Some people say, “Take the feelings out of it” and our working relationship will be better. How does one do that? Unless you are a Robot or Spock, it is not possible. Logic and emotion are not polar opposites. They work in conjunction with each other. When in relationship we can benefit greatly by letting our logic inform our emotions and vice versa. Building awareness is a good way to be in control of our choices. Lack of awareness often means that we will be motivated by our feelings unknowingly and end up regretting things we say or do. Some examples might help clarify:

  • The quiet woman who was always quiet and unemotional may find herself transgressing her usual moral standards because her suppressed needs, wants and desires take her to a place she would never logically choose.
  • Traumas/hurts in our life or relationships that are ‘swept under the carpet’ can often lead to a lack of appetite for intimacy with our partner or to a sense of ‘depression’ or ‘apathy’.
  • The strong woman who has had great success with pushing any vulnerable feelings aside can often end up in a relationship where she finds it hard to connect.
  • The man who got the message, as a child, that his role in life was to take care of everyone else’s needs may be angry that his needs are rarely taken care of in a relationship.
  • People often use substance, work, parenting, housework, sex, food or exercise to distract themselves (unconsciously) from dealing with underlying feelings, needs, wants or desires.

Awareness does not require therapy. Therapy is a great way to develop more awareness and start choosing how to deal with life. Awareness helps us see more clearly and be able to choose a path to take. It helps prevent avoidance. It provides us with options. Having a relationship therapist to assist in building awareness helps us to be more objective in recognizing what we do and what we want to do. Awareness does not totally change our behaviors but helps us be more actively involved in the process of change. The change is not into what someone else wants us to be but to become more aligned with our true essence.

Tony Fryer

Getting the Love You Want

Cincinnati marriage and family therapy by Tony Fryer

Isn’t this what most humans need? Why is it so elusive, and what can we do to be more successful in achieving the love we want?

In this past week I have been struck by the strong desire that we have to really connect, to love and be loved. I hear and see clients struggling to understand why their lovers just don’t seem to ‘get it’. That love relationship carries so many strong expectations and when they are not met, or are violated, the resulting emotions can be immense.

Most of the people I work with are ‘normal’ and good. Maybe these are the types who seek out counseling and are prepared to do the work necessary to try bring about change. These are the people I am reflecting on and about. They want the relationship to work and are frustrated that it is not providing the love they need. There are no easy answers, although some ‘Doctors’ in our media try to tell us there are. The love relationship is complex and needs continual work if it is to stay alive and grow healthier. I would just like to make a couple of observations from the week past that might help you to think some more and get more of what you want:

  • Be true with what you feel and careful about how you word it. Try removing blame.
  • Prioritize your marriage and don’t allow your other relationships to take precedence.
  • Realize that you brought perceptions from your Family of Origin that you will judge your partner with. So your perception, of him/her, is not the absolute truth.
  • You need to learn a new way to make your needs known if you have not been successful in getting them met.
  • Being ‘too kind’ can often lead to problems in your relationship.
  • If you don’t look after your feelings, in relationship, they will often motivate you to do things that are not for the good of you or the relationship.
  • What is reality/the truth?? Don’t be so sure that it is what you think. There are many ways to get a more objective view and one way is going to see a good Marriage and Family Therapist.
  • Read my other reflections and learn more about me at www.tonyfryer.com

Tony Fryer

Marriage and Relationship Advice

I’d like to invite any viewer to come look at my web site, www.tonyfryer.com, to read some articles that I have written on some marriage issues. The site also gives other information about me and the work that I do. Feel free to ask questions for further clarification.

Tony Fryer