Charlie: This is the first blog in a four part series. Infidelity isn’t an event, even those that are just one-night stands. It’s a process that occurs over time and starts long before the actual extramarital experience occurs. Perhaps an even more accurate way of defining infidelity would be to refer to it as a state of mind that erodes the trust and goodwill of a relationship that leads to acts of betrayal and painful disappointment. Like the slow steady drips of a leaky water pipe, the accumulated damage caused by infidelity often goes unnoticed and unattended until what was once an easily and quickly repairable problem suddenly becomes an expensive and complicated crisis that can and often does have unimaginable consequences to even solid relationships. And yes, it can occur in even solid relationships.
We’ve lost count of the number of times that we have heard from those who have been unfaithful in their partnerships, that “if I’d known then what I know now, I would never have gone outside of my marriage for (pick one or more): love, sex, thrills, adventure, pleasure, understanding, novelty, revenge, excitement, or fun. These are but a few of the things that people claim motivate them to choose to violate their monogamy agreement. Yet as we previously stated, it is not the act of betrayal itself that constitutes the violation of marital vows, it is the deterioration of trust, intimacy, honesty, and integrity that creates the context that promotes the actions that are the results of a deeply damaged emotional bond.
In nearly all of the cases in which we’ve worked with couples who have experienced infidelity, from one-night stands, to decades-long affairs, the seeds for the actions that eventually erupted were sown long before the problem turned into a crisis. Infidelity in committed partnerships is a much more common occurrence than many people realize. Shirley Glass in her book More Than Just Friends states that after reviewing twenty-five studies, she has concluded that 25% of wives and 44% of husbands have had extramarital intercourse. Regardless of the numbers, what is true is that while infidelity is unquestionably a serious threat to any marriage, it does NOT inevitably have to toll the death of a couples’ partnership.
Many couples with whom we’ve worked to help recover from marital infidelity have not only repaired the damaged trust, but have co-created a level of trust far greater than what they had experienced prior to the affair. This is not to suggest that this process is by any means effortless or without difficulty. It is however, in most cases, possible for couples willing to do the work to successfully navigate this potentially volatile minefield without activating a serious explosion in the process.
The process of repairing a relationship damaged by the pain of infidelity requires (big surprise), work, and usually more and harder work than many of us think should be necessary. The other challenge in taking on this commitment is that few of us are familiar with the specific nature of the work that is required to rebuild (or in some cases build) a foundation of trust and respect after it has taken a huge hit.
In this series we will feature an example of an actual couple (we have named Davey and Simon) who have shared with us the details, trials, pitfalls, challenges and breakthroughs that they experienced in going through a series of crises, which included, in addition to infidelity, lies, and numerous broken promises. We chose this story because their experiences occurred nearly twenty years ago and we have kept in contact with them ever since, and we can vouch for the fact that theirs has been a successful and sustained recovery, and not a temporary “flight into health”. We also chose it among all of the couples that we’ve worked with to heal from betrayal because they bring the most impressive story. It’s the one that makes one think, “If they can do it…anybody can.”
Although, for a variety of reasons, it appears as though not all couples can, what is for certain is that without making the effort to take on the challenge of doing the work, you will NOT be able to do it. With a willingness to take on the commitment to heal your relationship you will at the very least find out whether you can and you will not have to live the rest of your life with the lingering doubt, guilt, and remorse that “if only I’d made my best effort, we might have made it.”
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate