Infidelity: Is the grass REALLY greener?

The numbers speak for themselves and the common beliefs about infidelity are just not true. Some cheaters say they are looking for love, others seek acceptance and others say they want to feel better.  Some want all of the above.  For most, something is not right in their life and often it is their partner who gets blamed.  The affair partner is considered the new messiah and believed to be the only person capable of understanding the cheater and giving them what they need.
However, current statistics show that the beliefs held by the cheater are almost always part of what I refer to as “the great illusion”, a devastating force that has the potential to destroy families and unsettle innocent lives.

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Too Little Too Late

People who cheat are taking a risk and walking a fine line they frequently take it too far.  They believe that time is on their side and they find themselves caught in a web that leads them to a place where they say, “I don’t know what to do”, and they don’t. Many say that their marriage is good and they are unable to identify any specific reasons why they should not end the affair and remain with their spouse.  They are confused.  Why?

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Do You Want to Live Your Life to the Fullest?

Do you want to live your life to the fullest?  I do and I bet you would like to as well, but what I learned recently is that most people don’t.

Last week while exploring Pelee Island in Ontario, Canada on a tandem bicycle with my wife, I noticed a grey house with the words, “WHY NOT” on it.  The words captured my attention and instantly I had a thought that I feel compelled to share.

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The Problem with Social Media and Connection

With the emphasis that people are putting on social media we are losing the ability to communicate effectively.  Staples of every day communication such as intimacy and empathy previously valued are eroding.  People who lacked interactive skills were thought to be rare but because of social media, it is unfortunately becoming more and more  common.  It is frightening to think where this will lead.

In therapy one or both partners may say “we don’t talk anymore”, or “I don’t know what he’s (or she’s) thinking”.  We are witnessing a problem that is at least partially a result of social media because people are being trained to express themselves in 140 characters or less and describe an emotion with the click on an emoticon.  Today we know of studies that prove that this results in changes in the brain chemistry and that centers of the brain responsible for emotion are not developing as they did in the past.  In the process we are losing the ability to communicate with empathy and compassion.  The future is not bright. [CLICK TO READ MORE]

It is Time to Say, Enough and No More!

Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi and Elliot Spitzer, …three high profile, successful public figures who, if they weren’t known to you before, are known widely now.  The list continues to grow and one can only wonder, who will be next? When people are shamed, we pay attention wanting to know each and every detail.  When people are shamed for doing things that are outrageous, our curiosity peaks and many of us are quick to cast judgment.

It is so sad when a person acts in a manner that destroys their life either in a legal courtroom or in the court of public opinion.  Clearly we are ultimately responsible for the choices we make and for the actions we take.  Still, it is sad for the person directly involved and it is a sad commentary about the society in which we live.  An important question that ought to be considered by each of us is whether these [CLICK TO READ MORE]

Your Heart Can’t Be in Two Places at the Same Time

In my practice I meet with at least one partner each day who is having an affair and struggling with the decision of whether or not to work on their marriage. I typically ask them to describe their confusion and they almost always embark on a similar dialogue in which they inevitably compare their spouse with their affair partner. This is an unfair and frequently unhelpful comparison.

How remarkable it is that so many people who may share nothing else but the one commonality of having had an affair, write a narrative in which their spouse is almost universally cast in the role of villain, the affair partner given the role of hero or rescuer and they, the victim whose needs were not met or they were not given the love they wanted or expected. In some cases this depiction will be quite accurate, but not in all. I believe that to fully understand why an affair became a reality and to grasp the lesson it is intended to teach us, one must dig deeper, much deeper.

Comparing your partner to the affair partner is an unfair comparison that will either create more confusion for you or keep you stuck. You will not discover why you are where you are. Your heart cannot be in two places at the same time and your partner will almost always come up wanting in any comparison test. Instead it will be more helpful if instead of directing blame onto your spouse, you focus on yourself and become more aware of your beliefs, values and needs.

There is no one explanation for why people have an affair and to truly understand the reason for your affair you have to begin with yourself and this often requires professional help. Unresolved childhood wounds, past trauma, family dynamics, as well as one’s personality are often contributing factors along with marital dynamics and each has to be carefully examined.

The way a person feels when in an affair will almost always trump feelings had in a long-term relationship. An affair is a fantasy built on a foundation of secrecy, exclusive focus and excitement. Absent are the financial and childcare responsibilities that often distract committed partners from one another and robs the committed relationship of passion. Hence, the affair will often appear more exciting and leave participating partners thinking that they finally met someone who truly understands. But, do they?

A statistic that was published indicates that 3% of men who cheat marry the woman they had an affair with and of those, 75% of those relationships eventually divorce. Another study found that 60% of second and third marriages end within 10 years. So it seems that cheating does not necessarily make people happier and eventually, many people find themselves alone.

If you are having an affair and feeling confused about which relationship to invest in, avoid comparing unless your goal is in fact to leave your committed relationship and start fresh with your affair partner. But, keep the statistics sited here in mind. On the other hand if you want to make a decision that is based more on understanding and less on impulsivity start examining yourself.

You may still not end up staying with your partner, but at least your decision will be the result of a better and more complete understanding of your relationship and of yourself.   Doing so will reduce the potential that you will move from one relationship to another carrying the same baggage and repeating the same mistakes.