ERP 104: How Can Infidelity Make Your Relationship Stronger?

By Posted in - Podcast April 20th, 2017 0 Comments

Listener’s question:

“If you heard the story of my 18 year relationship, even you might be surprised
Over the last couple of years we really tested the boundaries of us being together
Now we are better , stronger , more intimate and communicative than ever before
We both proclaim most every day how happy we are that we each stood for the relationship when the other faltered
The harshest part we went through was my pulling away , near infidelity emotionally which caused me to questioned “us” and although that was short-lived , I did pull away for a couple of years emotionally and physically
About the time I was coming back to wanting to repair he started talking to someone at work who pursued him
He said he knew it the beginning she was nothing he wanted, but he was drawn in because she gave him what I was not ; attention. They had been talking a month already when I found out
Once I found out he almost immediately tried to break it off with the other person but she kept drawing him back and for several months he felt like he was in a vortex of emotions
I stood for us this time I listened to you and other podcasts and after a few months he made a clean break and we moved forward
After 17 years together and me saying no to getting married , we got married
He said it’s what he wanted all these years
So I would love to hear a podcast on infidelity, limerence and that it can be overcome
Your relationship can be stronger and it can even be a wake up call
It was a blessing in disguise for us
I love your shows so much
I feel like you are right here talking to me
I listen to the ones that don’t seem like they apply as I now know relationships are like a living entity and always changing
I want to forever stay on top of my game
I share the cliff notes with my hubby and they open up great conversations
Thank you for this gift
Love and light”

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear more explanations, stories and examples.)

How To Survive Infidelity:

Infidelity undoubtedly puts a lot of strain on a relationship, but in some cases an affair can make your relationship stronger.

Experiencing a crisis period is normal:

  • Feeling turmoil, rage, and great despair.
  • Reeling with confusion and betrayal.
  • Feels like an assault to the bond.
  • Feels shattering to dreams, goals, and connection.

Previous trauma and other issues can make the dynamics more complicated. 

  • Previous affairs.
  • Past traumas.
  • Sexual addiction.
  • Low self-worth and self-esteem.

Dealing with hard truths about self and relationship is necessary to move forward in a productive manner. 

Affairs are often an alert that something isn’t being dealt with within the relationship.

  • Loss of attention to sexual connection and love life (i.e. “loss of “erotic tension”).
  • Couple has been in autopilot.
  • Unspoken needs (sexual and emotional).
  • Too much control and constriction (too many rules – can’t do this, can’t do that).
  • Dissatisfaction.
  • Hiding from each other.

Acknowledging choice points and decisions made will be important to confront, as the dishonesty and deception can be more disturbing than the actual sexual affair.

  • Lies and deception.
  • Denial, justification and rationalizations.
  • Avoidance, fear and insecurities.
  • Discontent, disconnect and pain.
  • Unilateral decision making.

In order to make room for a stronger connection, partners need to be ready to be accountable and take ownership.

  • Seek awareness, insight, and understanding about self and partner.
  • Be really honest about your experience.
  • Even if the meaning of the affair is fuzzy, try to be in the place of exploration.
  • Being really honest and present creates an opening for connection.
  • Breakdown for a break through.

Prioritize the goal of seeking to understanding.

  • Create a space for an honest and safe dialogue. Regardless of your choice of how to move forward, you will get a lot more out of this approach then trying to attack or punish out of hurt and pain.
  • Openness to asking and answering tough questions with truth.
  • Clear the dishonesty. Perception checking (not feeling crazy or going off into fear based fantasies).
  • Gain clarity.
  • Having compassion and empathy for one another. Deep healing for pain and transgressions that occurred (i.e. “Sorry I ignored you.” “Sorry I went else where.”).
  • Start to rebuild trust.

Being willing to tolerate uncertainty. 

  • Avoid premature decision-making.
  • Have patience for the process.
  • Resist the urge to take short cuts.
  • Look at what is real and true. It can be incredibly revealing.

Develop shared meaning about the affair.

  • What is true (i.e. about self and relationship)?
  • What is the learning?
  • What is the growth?
  • Is there a new foundation to stand on?

TRANSCRIPT:

Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 104: How Can Infidelity Make Your Relationship Stronger? [Transcript]

If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.

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If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.

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