Affairs PART 3 – Boundaries

“Fences” or clear boundaries allow us to focus on taking care of the good things growing in our own garden and allow others to do the same. Solid boundaries are a must for a committed relationship. When your partner is your best friend, the one you confide in first and foremost and the one you don’t have secrets from, your relationship has the appropriate boundaries.

That we experience an attraction to another person’s energy who is not our partner is normal. Or as Shirley Glass says, “being attracted means you’re still breathing”. We are usually drawn to an energy our partnership is missing, when we are attracted to somebody other than our partner. The choice of an affair partner appears to be based on how that person differs from the spouse. The attraction is not so much about the other person, but about the energy they embody.

If our marriage has been missing playfulness because the everyday problems have been weighing heavily on us, we might be attracted to somebody else who we are not carrying any responsibilities with, due to their playfulness. Or if we have felt not good enough in our marriage in one or more ways, another person who laughs at our jokes and seems to think we are the best thing since sliced bread is a huge temptation. If our partner hasn’t paid us any compliments in a long time and somebody else feels we are beautiful and smart, that is a strong attraction.

So what is it that enables some people to resist having an affair, while others slide into one? There is of course a complex dynamic of opportunities, vulnerabilities, unmet needs, and values at play. One important factor is whether clear boundaries with others exist. Couples who are dedicated to each other are as protective of their relationship as couples who’ve just fallen in love. They have built a safe couple bubble and they act in accordance with the rule that other people are third parties and that the partner always comes first. They see each other as best friends, primary confidants and are conscious of each others vulnerabilities and needs.

Often “outside observers will speculate unfairly and ignorantly that the betrayed wife must have been reluctant or inadequate in the bedroom… Just as uniformed gossip often blames inadequacies or weaknesses in the betrayed partner, women are more prone than men to blame themselves for their partner’s infidelity.” (Glass) Women have a tendency to think if they had been more loving, available, patient, sexy, slender and so on, the affair would never have happened.  Glass calls this the prevention myth. A loving partner or good marriage does not prevent affairs. The less aware a couple is of appropriate boundaries with others, the more likely it is that one partner will slip into an affair.

Couples who know how to safeguard their long-term relationship follow basic guidelines:

  1. They know that attraction to others is normal but that just because you feel it does not mean you need to act on it. Being attracted to someone else does not mean that you are with the wrong person, but it means that there is some energy or trait you are attracted to in the affair partner which needs to be brought into your long-term relationship. It is never easy to talk to your spouse about the attraction you are experiencing, but it is worth it. It can save your marriage and make it even stronger.
  2. They don’t allow themselves to fantasize what it would be like to be with that other person because affairs begin in the mind.
  3. They are conscious about not flirting. Even though “flirting” is usually considered harmless, it signals that you are available.
  4. They avoid risky situations, e.g. being alone with a potential affair partner.

In her book “Not ‘Just Friends’” Shirley Glass uses the symbols of walls and windows each relationship has. When you withhold information from your partner and keep secrets, you create walls, but if you open up to each other, the window between you allows you to know each other free of illusions and be truly intimate with each other. “In a committed relationship, a couple constructs a wall that shields them from any outside forces that have the power to split them. They look at the world outside their relationship through a shared window of openness and honesty. The couple is a unit, and they have a united front to deal with children, in-laws, and friends.” (Glass, “Not ‘Just Friends’”)

When a love affair happens, the unfaithful partner has built a wall to shut out the marriage partner and has opened a window to let the affair partner in. After the affair, the walls and windows must be reconstructed to be in line with the “safety code” every relationship house requires. A solid wall needs to be established to block out the affair partner and the window between the marriage partners needs to be installed and kept open. Appropriate walls are necessary to safeguard the relationship against further betrayal.

Further guidelines to follow to protect a relationship are:

  1. Not to discuss relationship problems with anyone who could be a potential alternative to your spouse. When you complain about your partner or listen to somebody else’s complains, you establish intimacy. That opens a window and begins to create a bond with the outsider that then often develops into an affair.
  2. Only discuss your relationship with a professional or a person who is a true friend of the marriage. A friend of the marriage is somebody who is not in competition with the marriage but reinforces the value of your committed relationship and being honest with your partner. ”Single people on the prowl or married people who openly complain about their current relationship are least likely to be friends of the marriage” (Glass). A meddling mother or father who is not able to see their own child in their true light is also not the right person to commiserate with. If you cannot be sure that the other person will encourage you to speak to your partner and work through things, do not talk to them.
  3. When one of you has a friend who wants to talk about personal problems, be careful about your boundaries. Include your partner in these conversations or helping gestures towards the friend. The moment you keep a secret, you have created a wall that shuts out your partner.

Click to read AFFAIRS PART 1 “Assumptions Versus Facts”  or AFFAIRS PART 2 “Lying and Gaslighting”.

 You can also read or listen to my three part article I Don’t Trust You

Angelika

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greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Affairs and Attractions

Hal and Sidra Stone are consciousness teachers who have really applied their teachings to their own relationship, respectively have arrived at what they teach about relationships through their own relationship work. An area which we are most vulnerable in when we are in a relationship is monogamy versus having affairs. We can get very hurt when we are not aware of the dynamics. Hal and Sidra are providing us with another perspective of infidelity.

Hal & Sidra 2

Usually, the perception is that one person is just too immature or undisciplined or immoral to be loyal and honest. The topic is much more complex than that.

There are two very opposite voices in ALL of us. We all have a monogamous voice which wants the safety and depth which comes with monogamy but we ALL also have a non-monogamous voice, a part which is still attracted to others, even if we are in a committed relationship. When we commit to a relationship the expectation—or choice—usually is to be monogamous, however, that non-monogamous energy in us still exists and goes underground. If we ignore that energy and pretend it does not exist, we are more likely to have an affair.

What are the dynamics of that? Let’s take an example. Cybil is only in touch with her monogamous energy, Bill is only in touch with his non-monogamous energy. After they get married, Cybil becomes the victim. She feels she is the only one who wants to be and is monogamous. She is the one fearing infidelity and is the one trying to make things safe and hold both of them together. She might find herself feeling jealous and insecure. The jealous part of her might accuse Bill of wanting to sleep with another woman or having slept with another person. The little child inside might start to be clingy. The controlling part in her might start to check up on him and try to control how he spends his time.

If the non-monogamous energy is not honestly acknowledged, what is called a child-parent bonding pattern occurs. Bill would become the power parent and sit in judgement over Cybil’s weakness and need for commitment and her dependency. Cybil on the other side would judge Bill for being unstable, immature and a liar or cheater.

If Cybil was in touch with her non-monogamous voice and really knew that she also has both sides, that the potential for infidelity is inside her as well, she would not judge him but be able to address the situation openly. From the place of judgement, anger and resentment grows, which can come out as just suddenly ending the relationship in an explosive way. And Bill might even convince himself that he is glad this happened as he has felt controlled, restricted and deprived of any privacy or alone time.

If he is in touch with both energies in himself he would have to speak up clearly, asking for privacy and explaining to Cybil that he chooses monogamy but still has other impulses. If he feels he can share with her honestly when he feels attracted to another woman, they can find a way to work this out together. He would, however, need to be prepared to initially be met with anger, or irritation, or hurt. Sharing this sort of attraction can activate the insecurities and wounds in our partner. We need to trust that the relationship is strong enough to survive that hurt. We also need to realize that speaking up openly is better than having a secret affair and the betrayal coming out at one point in the future and really hurting our partner.

When Bill speaks up, Cybil would have to understand that the fact that he is attracted to somebody else has absolutely nothing to do with her personally. It is NOT that she is not giving Bill what he needs. It is NOT that she is not attractive anymore. It is NOT that she is lacking in any way. Instead the “other woman” Bill might find himself attracted to represents an energy which is missing in their relationship.

Hal & Sidra 3

Hal and Sidra have managed to handle this part in us which is attracted to others with consciousness. They have chosen to have a monogamous relationship which they have been able to keep up because the non-monogamous energy is being acknowledged and addressed. They have expressed to each other when they were attracted to somebody else. Sidra, for example, was attracted to a man who was adventurous and travelled the world a lot. Once she shared this with Hal, he was able to embrace his own adventurous nature more. They brought that energy more into their own relationship, travelled more and enjoyed adventures together. Sidra’s attraction to the other man vanished.

What we are attracted to, is not so much the person themselves, but the energy the other person represents. They mirror to us what energy our partner is not in touch with and has disowned. If our partner is more practical and worldly and less spiritual, we might be attracted to somebody spiritual; it means we need to embrace spirituality in our relationship more. If our partner is very responsible, we might be attracted to somebody who is a free spirit; it signifies that we need to bring that energy more into our relationship. If our partner is quite focused on finances, we might be attracted to somebody who cares little about money; it means we might need to bring other values into our relationship. What attracts us to a partner is what they mirror for us.

Sometimes it is not just one partner who has disowned that energy but both of us in our relationship have, for example, disowned the spiritual part, or the free spirited energy, or the voice which does not care much about material things. Each attraction of one or both partners to an energy outside themselves is a gift to find out what is missing in the relationship and what can be brought in.

This is not just about the relationship itself, but it is also a gift for each partner to claim a part of themselves they have so far disowned. It does not mean something is wrong with one partner. It just means there is more in this world that we can try out and embrace.

If Sarah is attracted to an assertive and strong male energy in another man, it is an opportunity for her partner to step more into his own assertive and strong male energy. If David is attracted to a woman who is playful, silly and loves to laugh, it is an incentive for his partner to be more playful and enjoy life more. If Frank is attracted to a woman who is sexual and sensual and his wife is the personified asexual mother type, she can embrace sensuality more and experience it. If Howard is attracted to women who are helpless damsels in distress, his self-sufficient wife might need to realize that self-sufficiency is good but that we all have needs and that she can allow Howard to fulfil her needs. If Elena is drawn to a passionate romantic man, her controlled, rational and down to earth partner can claim his romantic and passionate self.

It requires courage to speak up about our attractions. Why is it worth speaking up?

Having an affair, and that includes an actual physical affair but also confiding in another person of the opposite sex behind the back of our partner and complaining about our marriage or relationship, is greatly damaging. It is not the actual physical act which is the betrayal but the emotional intimacy, coupled with the secrecy. Who gets hurt is the little child inside. In our example, Cybil’s little girl inside would go into hiding if Bill had a physical and/or emotional affair. She would not be able to trust and feel safe right after finding out. That vulnerable trusting child energy, however, is what we need in a relationship to connect deeply with each other. Without our inner children, we cannot experience true intimacy. We have signed the death verdict for the relationship if we do not address the feelings of the inner child and truly heal them.

Affairs can of course be forgiven, and the inner child can learn to trust again, but that requires deep inner work and not everybody finds it easy to rebuild the foundation of trust. It therefore pays to be honest and address the issue consciously rather than responding from an unconscious place and having an affair.

 

Hal & Sidra 4

A great recording to listen to is “Affairs and Attractions” by Hall and Sidra Stone

http://voicedialogueinternational.com/store/aaa.php