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Most unfaithful partners deny the affair at first. They try to assess how much the partner knows and how much they have to tell. They are usually afraid that admitting the whole truth will make things worse. The opposite is the case. Dragging out admissions are comparable to driving long distances on a flat tire. Delaying the repair can cause irreparable damage to the wheel and axle. Denials or half truths cause the same damage to the relationship.
Some of the conventional wisdom about what causes affairs and how to repair relationships are assumptions or myths. Some of the statistical facts in regards to infidelity are surprising and thought-provoking. While some of the myths lead to judgments and are very hurtful for the affected couple, the facts help us to be compassionate with ourselves and others in a situation of betrayal.
When we are in a relationship, we often give up certain parts of us which seem to be threatening to the relationship. David loves motorcycles but Lisa is afraid of him having an accident. Lisa on the other hand loves dogs but David dislikes them. In order to be together, David has exiled his freedom loving part that wants to ride a bike, and Lisa has exiled her pet loving part that wants to get a dog. If there continues to be no room in their life for these parts, this can sabotage the relationship.
“Will you stop guilt tripping me?!” exclaims Peter. His wife is surprised: “I am not trying to make you feel guilty. I am just trying to get through to you…” but Peter has shut down. His body language indicates that what he is actually feeling right now is not guilt but shame. Shame is one of the most destructive emotions in a relationship. It corrodes the parts in us that believe that we can do better.
Our partner can be an invaluable “Tor-Mentor”, a person who mentors us by tormenting us. Inevitably, our partner will act like an early caretaker who hurt us, and we will have a strong emotional reaction and experience what Richard Schwartz calls an attachment re-injury. These triggers are an opportunity to heal our wounds and create more empowered and truly supportive relationships.
Helen got the opportunity to do a creative video project. She was excited. Yet, instead of starting to work on it, she cleaned up the entire house first. Then she started cooking a meal. Then she thought she should return some phone calls. She realized she was procrastinating. Does this sound familiar? Would you like to know how to shift out of procrastination and other blocks?
While you can’t have relationships without disappointments, you cannot have a solid love relationship without trust. Any upsetting surprise or discovery that makes us feel vulnerable, hurt or unsafe can be experienced as a betrayal and break of trust. One way in which trust issues enter a relationship is when there are significant differences between the partners in background, personality or preferences. Another risk factor for mistrust is a situation of unequal power. The worst trust killer is when one partner is less open than the other.
What is going on when our children seem judgmental of some of the things we do? As parents, we act as mirrors to them, just as they are reflections for us. It is uncomfortable to be at the receiving end of their projections but we need to keep in mind that this is not about us, as much as it feels that way, but it is about what our children have learned to disown; and we may even have taught them to disown that particular trait or energy.
From an attachment theory standpoint our partner is the best antidepressant and anxiolytic. That requires that we know how to help each other when we feel depressed or anxious. What can we do to help regulate each other and counterbalance anxiety and depression in our relationships?
Figuratively speaking, everyone has an inner “Love Bank”. When somebody is associated with good feelings, “love units” are deposited into those emotional accounts, and when he or she is associated with painful experiences, love units are withdrawn. Hurtful experiences with others trigger our nervous system into fight, flight or freeze. Those experiences of being triggered into fight or flight put strain on a relationship. The concept of the love bank helps us to understand how to make sure painful experiences are balanced out with experiences of safety and love.