Ever wonder why people have affairs? Or if your own marriage is at risk?
According to relationship experts, John and Julie Gottman, affairs don’t “just happen”. More often than not, they take place over time through a sequence of events. These events can lead to diminished trust and resentment, making any attempts to reconnect and rekindle passion difficult.
Here’s a breakdown of what commonly happens leading up to an affair…
1) You avoid fights
When you avoid conflict to “keep the peace” you’re also keeping your feelings and needs from your significant other. While this may seem like a good approach, it can erode trust by creating a setting for secrets and deceptions to develop.
2) You and your partner start to drift apart
If you feel your partner is no longer emotionally available, you’re likely to move away from your partner and turn inwards. Your partner may then feel as though you no longer have their back causing their trust to erode further.
3) You make negative comparisons
Resentment can breed negative comparisons between your partner and an imagined or real other. As such, you may find yourself fantasizing about how much better your life would be with somebody else. Doing so often leads to further disappointment and disconnection.
4) You feel lonelier than ever
Feeling alone in a marriage can make someone go from fantasizing to seeking out others in real life, as a way to meet their wants and desires. Boundaries can easily become blurred at this stage. If you’re feeling alone in your relationship you may find yourself moving away from your primary relationship and drawing closer to others.
5) You seek out intimacy with others
At first, this could be as small as seeking light conversation or confiding something personal with another. Over time, deeper feelings may start to evolve as intimate information, which often includes being dissatisfied or unhappy in your relationship is shared. If you’re at this stage, you’re likely keeping contact hidden from your spouse while still seeking out intimacy from others.
6) You cross one or more boundaries
After a while, physical or emotional boundaries are crossed the moment you give yourself permission to step outside of your primary relationship.
In short, affairs don’t “just happen”. Instead, they take place over a series of missed and new interactions.
While it’s true that affairs can cause havoc and are a major cause for divorce, many couples are able to move past an affair and grow closer because of it. Attending couples counselling when one or both partners starts to feel disconnected can prevent couples from growing apart and eventually crossing boundaries.
If you or your partner have crossed boundaries, couples counselling can shed light on the betrayal, repair trust, and improve your marriage. While marriage #1 may be gone, marriage #2 can be even more honest and fulfilling than the first. Seeing affairs as an opportunity to understand what wasn’t working can be a stepping stone towards a closer and more loving relationship.
Headed towards an affair or struggling with the aftermath of one?
Contact me now to help get your relationship back on track.