EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIRS IN MARRIAGE- PART 3
HEALING THE WOUNDS CAUSED BY ETRAMARITAL AFFAIRS.
Letting go the pain, healing and building a better marriage.
Both partners need to forgive themselves- the one who had an extramarital affair for taking that path and hurting the partner, and the betrayed needs to let go the pain of betrayal so as to find freedom within, joy and personal fulfillment. (A hurting person cannot enjoy freedom).
Let both use the opportunity to handle any unresolved conflicts in the marriage. A marriage cannot grow when issues have been swept under the carpet. Let the couple deal with causes of all unresolved issues prior to the extramarital affair as opposed to asking each other for forgiveness without dealing with what caused the wounds.
Affairs are too painful and the couple may be so occupied with blaming each other rather than focusing on resolving the issues by listening to each other’s point of view. At this point, marital therapy/marriage counseling helps where a professional facilitates the process for a couple in a non-judgmental setup.
The process of healing is gradual. Whereas both partners commit to growth of self and marriage, the betrayed partner show signs of growth on one day, and then move back to grieving in another day. This is because they are experiencing tough grief emotions. The couple needs to exercise patience with self and with each other so as to allow themselves grieve the loss that comes with infidelity.
Because the process of healing takes time, the couple needs to be ready to deal with issues such as the threats of a divorce and the fear that the marriage may not work. There are days when the sense of belonging is evident and others when the couple feel far apart. This is normal during the healing period. On bad days when the betrayed feel hurt, they need more support. Normally, the partner who had an affair is left drained and feeling like they are not making progress or still being blamed for the pain they caused.
Create safety- A betrayed partner needs to feel safe through the assurance that the partner involved in the affair has cut links with the other person. As long as both remain in touch, it creates more worry and the healing becomes difficult.
Purpose to listen to each other. Listen as the partner who had extramarital affair shares their feelings of guilt, shame, regret etc. and the betrayed shares the feelings of fear, anger, betrayal insecurity etc. Let the betrayed get answers to areas of concern and questions asked. Most marriages begin the journey of honest conversations after infidelity and that grows both communication and emotional connection.
The betrayed needs to ask questions yes but also ask questions that do not leave them more wounded. Questions that lead them to understanding themselves and the marriage better are useful. However, avoid questions that are likely to cause further wounds such as; is she more beautiful than me? does he offer better sex than I do? is she better a better home maker? does he have more money? If these were answered in the affirmative, it’s definitely likely to further wound you and derail the healing.
Some useful Questions to build the marriage would include: what was happening in the marriage before, was the couple emotionally connected- did they have a sense of belonging to each other, did they feel alive with each other? What is it they can do to get to the emotional connection? What is it that the couple can do to retain connection? What is it that can be done to ensure that the partner who had infidelity issues grows from his own inadequacies?
For the betrayed, allow yourself time to relax, breathe and let go and live. Purpose to let go the pain daily and enjoy life. Look at the things that are working for you so that you can enjoy what works. If you find no good thing that is working, you may end up being overwhelmed by grief and end up in depression. Do things that make you happy, do things that raise your self-confidence and get space to help you find yourself back from the hurt.
By Joan Kirera-family therapist. For more visit www.joankirera.com