Your Relationship is your Greatest Asset
When you hear those two words, what do you think “it” is? A football game? A meeting? A meal?
“It” is the most important thing we crave above all else, whether we are willing to admit it or not. “It” is a love relationship. Just ask someone who has had a love relationship then lost it, or someone who is not in one.
How many times a day are those two words said worldwide?
We do know, however, that statistically the most common reason for “it’s over” in a marriage is an affair. So its common. So heaps of people are doing it. Does that stop the hurt? Is there any way to get over the hurt?
Ok, so today we are touching on the big one: infidelity. The seemingly unforgivable. I can’t say here what can be written in books or said by therapists. But I do want to touch upon one of the most important steps in the forgiveness process: deciding to forgive.
“He only told me about the affair three years after it was over. I had no idea. How could I be that gullible? It was a work colleague. I was at home with our twins, barely two-years-old. He was ‘working back late’ to pay off our mortgage. It wasn’t just the affair, it was knowing that the person I loved lied to me and accepted my love while he shared his with somebody else. Then he continued to lie. It shattered me.”
World falling apart.
Dreams ripped to shreds.
Aching inside that never leaves.
Deep, deep hurt.
This is what Christian hears behind the closed doors of his office.
A while back, I wrote about Georgia and Sam who went through an “it’s over.” They have found a way to reconcile, but Georgia has since told me there was an affair involved in their breakup and she is finding it hard to forgive Sam.
“It just hurts so much. I keep thinking about him giving his love to another woman. He says it was just physical, that it doesn’t mean anything to him, but it doesn’t help. Why wasn’t my love enough for him?”
She started crying. So much hurt.
“I want to forgive him but how can I even consider forgiving when I feel physically sick every time I think about it?” She was torturing herself.
Infidelity, if it is to be forgiven, needs to be understood and strong feelings processed. This is difficult. It leaves an emotional scar from which many relationships do not recover. How to handle an affair depends on your personal values and the values you forged as a couple. There is no right or easy answer. Each relationship is different.
The contract at the beginning of any love-relationship usually includes there are some things we won’t do with others, one of them is expressing physical intimacy. This is usually expressed in marriage vows, an agreement of sexual exclusivity, or some shared understanding discussed or assumed early in a relationship. An affair acts against this core contract; the sense of betrayal is great. It’s serious: when you’re in breach of contract, the deal’s off.
Getting past an affair means being aware of the damage done to the contract. It will mean putting together a new contract. There are many ways to do this (See Heim “Forgive”)
Re-writing a love contract is a start. A good start. Often the couples will need a therapist to help guide them through. But you have to want to forgive in the first place. You have to decide to forgive. We talked about that first step last week: deciding.
“I want to forgive him. You see, there’s the kids, my parents, our friends” Georgia continued.
“But what about you?” I said
“I still can’t believe he did that to me. I’m still in shock.” Georgia continued.
The second step to forgiving is accepting. Accepting that it really happened.
“Yes, that’s the hard part, accepting that it happened” I replied.
Georgia continued blow-drying my hair. “You’ve got quite a few grey hairs starting here”
“What! Where? No I don’t!” I retorted.
“Caroline, you have to accept that you will go grey one day.”
We both laughed. It felt good and eased some of her pain.
“I still don’t know how to start forgiving.” She sighed.
“You’ve started.” I replied. “You’ve decided to choose love over payback. It’s powerful.”
I think Georgia will make it, but it’s a long road ahead. They’ve decided not to go with the therapist and work through the issues themselves. But they’ve decided to work on it, so their chances of success are much greater.
I want to let you know that I will now be posting monthly. Please look out for it around the beginning of each month or subscribe to get it directly into your inbox (you can unsubscribe at any time).
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains an insight into your relationship and how to mend or grow it drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience working in psychiatry. They are told as stories. The central ideas are in bold. All the pictures are originals. We post once a month. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.