Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘affairs’

An Affair Does Not Have to Mean the End

SOURCE:  Carrie Cole M.Ed., LPC/The Gottman Institute

Ralph and Susan had been married for 13 years with two adorable children. Their suburban life was packed with work, school, and the kids’ extra-curricular activities. Neither made their marriage a priority, but overall they felt their relationship was good.

Susan withheld her suspicion when she noticed that Ralph was on his phone more than usual. At times she couldn’t help but ask “What’s going on?” only to receive “Nothing. Just checking the news,” or “There’s a lot of drama at the office that I need to take care of.” She trusted him.

When Susan discovered that Ralph had been texting another woman, she was devastated. Her world came crashing down. In her mind, Ralph was not the kind of person to ever have an affair.

Ralph lied about it at first. He felt like he needed to protect Susan from the ugly truth. But as more evidence came out, he couldn’t lie anymore. He was having an affair.

He didn’t know how he had got involved so deeply with someone else. It just happened. He and a co-worker had become close friends over time. It felt good to have someone to talk to who listened and made him feel special. He hadn’t had that in a long time with Susan.

During the affair he had to convince himself that Susan didn’t care. He felt she wasn’t interested in him sexually anymore. They were more like roommates than soulmates.

As a Certified Gottman Therapist, I have heard many versions of this story in my couples therapy practice over the last 15 years. An affair, whether emotional or sexual, is devastating. Both partners suffer tremendous pain. But an affair does not have to mean the end.

The PTSD of an Affair

The betrayed partner experiences a tidal wave of emotion. The pain, hurt, anger, humiliation, and despair are overwhelming. After the traumatic moment the affair is realized, they become fearful, anxious, and hypervigilant, wondering where or when the next blow is going to come – not unlike symptoms of PTSD felt by military veterans.

Their mind races with thoughts of What don’t they know? What’s the whole story? Scenes of their partner with someone else appear in their mind when awake and when asleep, making life a living nightmare.

The Guilt of Betrayal

The betrayer also experiences a great deal of emotion. The hopeless feeling of witnessing your partner in pain and knowing you can do nothing to alleviate their suffering is a horrible experience. The feelings of guilt, shame, and humiliation are almost unbearable.

So, what causes an affair? Why do partners choose to cheat? The answers are complicated and may take months to unravel.

Recovering From an Affair

Is it possible to recover from an affair? The answer for most couples is yes.

Many couples I’ve worked with have actually created a stronger, more emotionally connected, and richer relationship from the ashes of an affair. However, it’s not quick or easy. As with any serious injury, it takes time to heal. And it usually takes therapy.

It’s tempting to think that it will automatically get better with time. The problem with “sweeping it under the rug” is that the anxiety, fear, anger, and guilt felt early on by the betrayed person often give way to resentment – a slow seething anger that leads to total contempt for the betrayer. Dr. John Gottman’s research has shown that contempt is deadly in relationships and very difficult to recover from.

Couples therapy can help partners explore and understand what happened. The betrayed partner needs to have their questions answered, such as:

  • When did you meet?
  • Where did you meet?
  • How long did the affair last?

The betrayed partner attempts to understand how it happened and how they can prevent it from happening again. They also seek consistency in the stories from one telling to the next. Do I know everything? Are you lying to me now? These questions are best asked and answered in the emotionally safe environment of a therapist’s office.

It is best not to ask questions about the specifics of the sexual nature of the affair. Those questions usually do more bad than good in that they conjure up images that might haunt the betrayed partner’s thoughts.

When the betrayed partner feels that they have all the answers they need, the couple can begin to work on rebuilding trust. Couples like Susan and Ralph have turned away from each other in many small ways over time, which compounds into the feelings that ultimately led Ralph astray. They neglected the relationship.

Once couples process what happened, they need to begin to tune back into each other. Susan and Ralph found that they avoided each other to avoid conflict. Tuning back in requires dialoguing about problems – both ongoing perpetual problems and past issues that might have caused some injury to the relationship.

Recognize That Conflict is Inevitable

Conflict is a natural part of your happily ever after. Every relationship has conflict due to different values, beliefs, and philosophies of life. When these differences are discussed safely, and when honored and respected, the couple will experience greater intimacy. At times this can feel uncomfortable and take some push and pull. Communication skills provided by a therapist can help the navigation of these discussions go more smoothly.

Once the couple has tuned back into each other, it will be helpful to create some meaningful rituals to stay connected. Couples can be creative about ways to do that which are special and unique to them. One couple I worked with decided to have morning coffee together for 30 minutes. They would discuss the events of the day, check in with each other emotionally, and take the time to really listen to each other’s hearts.

Another couple developed a ritual of a bubble bath after the kids were in bed. They said they did their best talking in their big round Jacuzzi tub.

Sexual and emotional betrayals are a hefty blow to a relationship, but an affair does not have to be the end. Couples who have the emotional fortitude to reach out and seek the help they need can create a much more meaningful and intimate relationship in the aftermath of infidelity.

 

Affair Proof Your Marriage

SOURCE: Dennis Rainey/Family Life

I remember the day I learned a hero of mine had fallen. His spiritual influence had been tarnished by adultery. I was nauseated when the news came, for I had drunk deeply from the well of his writings, preaching, and life.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since then.

I’ve pondered the tragedy to his ministry. I’ve winced at the shame to him, his family, and the name of Christ. I’ve asked myself, How many like him must fall before we who are Christians come out of our sanctified closets and admit that sexual temptation does exist? I’ve grappled over the growing number of Christians who’ve lost their marriages, families, and ministries due to sexual infidelity.

As a result, I have determined that we need to start asking one another some tough questions. Like a man asking another man, “Are you being the leader of your family and taking care of your wife’s needs—spiritually? Emotionally? Sexually? Are you being sexually faithful to your wife? Are you being faithful mentally? Are you reading stuff you shouldn’t?” And wife to wife: “Are you sending your husband into the world hungry, with his sexual needs unmet? Are you a ‘marriage bed magnet’ that causes him to daydream at work about you!?”

I’ve concluded that it’s time we stop assuming we are all beyond temptation and start exhorting husbands and wives to pay more attention to taking care of one another’s physical needs.

But for some, any open admission about the sexual dimension of life is strictly taboo. I love to quote Dr. Howard Hendricks’ powerful statement about sex, “We should not be ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create.” If God isn’t blushing about what takes place in our bedrooms, then why should we?

Here are eight exhortations to affair proof your marriage:

1. Make your marriage bed your priority. Exhaustion is the great zapper of passion. In this on-the-go, always-plugged-in culture, our lives are hectic and our schedules are packed. The result is we have little time and energy to share, give, or receive. Fatigue does not fuel passion.

Practically, some couples could go their own independent way indefinitely, denying their need of one another. But God gave us sex as a drive to merge, to force us out of our isolation.

Am I suggesting that you should write down “sex” on your calendar? I’ll let you decide. But some of you don’t need a reminder on your smartphone—you just need to say NO to some good things and go to bed early; say about 8 p.m. or so.

2. Talk together about what pleases one another. I once spoke to a group of wives whose husbands are in the ministry. During the message I took a few minutes to address the subject of intimacy and how so many men bomb out of the ministry because of sexual sin.

Afterwards, a young wife came up to tell me about a conversation that she had had with her husband. As they were driving home after he had spoken at church one night, she turned to him and asked, “Sweetheart, what do you want me to do that would help you become a great man of God?” There was a moment of contemplative silence, then his reply came, “When I come home from work, meet me at the door with no clothes on!”

She was dumb-founded! Was he being silly or serious? She has since concluded that he was very serious!

Why not do something tonight that you know would truly please your mate?

3. Fan the flames (or flickers) of romance. When our children were at home, Barbara and I had a small table in our bedroom set with dishes for special evenings. (No, our bedroom isn’t that big, it was just that crowded!)  We would put the kids to bed with a book or rent a kids’ movie as we shared a candlelight dinner, alone. We fanned the flames by re-introducing ourselves and talking.

What setting enables your love for your mate to spark or even ignite? Feed the flames—don’t starve them.

4. Have fun with your spouse. Some of us are so serious about “the objective” that we’ve lost the fun of the relationship. Grins, giggles, and laughter ought to drift out of our bedrooms occasionally. (So what if the kids find out—it’ll be good for them to know that Mom and Dad have fun in bed!)

The Lord God, who created 40,000 different kinds of butterflies, never intended that our marriage bed become boring! But some are. Consider just one problem–the clothes many of us wear to bed. Men really aren’t excluded here, but I’ve had some tell me privately that they’d like to burn some of the burlap sacks their wives sleep in. Snap out of the rut–why not have fun shopping together for some new lingerie?

5. Add the element of surprise to your marriage bed. Why not take one of your lunch hours at work to add some sizzle and creativity to your marriage bed? Caution: If the sexual area of your marriage has been a struggle, then it might be good to ask permission before cooking up something you think is wonderful, but might be offensive to your spouse (Romans 15:1-7).

6. Be patient with your spouse. Remember, the Christian life is the process of becoming like Christ. This area of married love and commitment demands that we are continually growing and learning about one another (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).

7. Protect your intimacy by avoiding emotional adultery. Emotional adultery is friendship with the opposite sex that has progressed too far. When you begin to tell a friend of the opposite sex about your intimate struggles, doubts, or feelings, you are sharing your soul in a way that God intended exclusively for the marriage relationship, and it often leads to physical involvement. To avoid it, set strict limits about the time you spend with those of the opposite sex, particularly in work situations. And reserve some subjects for your spouse—Barbara and I are careful to share our deepest feelings, needs, and difficulties only with each other.

8. Beware of bitterness. Perhaps nothing should be feared more than that of becoming resentful of your mate’s sexual drive or apparent lack of sexual appetite. Bitterness quenches the fires of romance. Keep short accounts and ask forgiveness when you fail or if you have become bitter (Ephesians 4:26-27).

I love what Vonette Bright, wife of the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said about sex, “It’s just as important to be filled with the Holy Spirit in bed as it is in witnessing to another about Jesus Christ.”

Why not pull the plug and turn out the lights early tonight?

Marriages are Boring, Affairs are Fun

SOURCE:  Ashley McIlwain

Marriages are Boring, Affairs are Fun

That’s what the spam email said that was sitting in my inbox staring at me candidly and shamelessly.

My heart ached as I saw the words beseeching me to believe their ridiculous claim. Unapologetically this lie dared to even show its ugly face. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed too many marriages where one spouse actually believed that lie though. They fell for the enticing words dripping with promises that they would never fulfill. Like a poisoned candy apple, they’re shiny appearance lures you in, but death and destruction await you underneath the pretty sheen.

Too many clients have come into my office devastated by affairs. Too many people have emailed me reeling from their spouse straying outside the marriage. Friends have reached out in despair clueless as to how to take their next breath. Tears are shed. Hearts are shattered. Lives are ravaged.

TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE, ACCESS THE FOLLOWING LINK:  http://foundationrestoration.org/2014/07/marriages-are-boring-affairs-are-fun/

How an affair begins

SOURCE:  Andree Seu/World Magazine

A friend of mine told me that now she understands how adultery begins.

She went to a woman’s house to drop off a package as a favor to someone, but the woman was not home. The husband was, and they exchanged pleasantries for a few moments. My friend noticed the carpentry project the man was working on and commented on his artistry. She asked him a few questions about it, and it didn’t take much to encourage him to spill forth for an hour and a half about every aspect of the work. It was fun.

At some point in the conversation, the man made the comment that his wife doesn’t let him go on and on like that about his hobbies. That’s when my friend felt a curious check in her spirit. As she drove home, she thought with a shudder how she had enjoyed the flattery of being told she is a superior listener.

That was a narrow escape. We are warned of these sand traps:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith …” (1 Peter 5:8-9).

This is the substance of life, which you may choose to take seriously or not. The devil is real and is busy. Like one pastor said, “You should see the top of Satan’s desk: It’s covered with overflowing ashtrays, crumpled papers, and half-drunk cups of coffee.” Satan comes in like an angel of light and departs with a fiendish cackle over carcasses strewn in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:5).

I personally know of an affair that started when a married woman I know told a married man I know that she had had a dream about him. That was one foot on the banana peel. It could have been nipped in the bud at that point but was not. Each small subsequent decision sealed their fate, and great was the destruction in the final scene.

Wives, love your husbands well, being their best friends. Husbands, love your wives well. A good marriage is a bulwark against the footholds of the Adversary.

Q & A: Husband says he’s sorry and will change, but doesn’t. Now what?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Question: My husband has had two affairs, he throws things when he’s angry, abandons me for days at a time after an argument, and now has just completely detached himself from our family. He also lies about his whereabouts. I want to be the wife God has called me to be, but I can’t continue this way. My husband always says he is sorry and will change, but these behaviors continue to resurface. Please help.

Answer: I think the first question you must settle is what kind of wife do you think God wants you to be for your husband? Is it a wife that allows herself to be abused, abandoned, lied to, and cheated on with no consequences?

You say I can’t continue this way. I don’t blame you. No one would want to be married this way. But I think your dilemma is that although you can, with God’s help, be the wife that God wants you to be, that doesn’t guarantee that your husband will become the husband God wants him to be or that you want him to be.

But the question remains, what kind of wife do you think God wants you to be here? Do you think he wants you to be passive and continue to live with a man who lies to you, cheats on you, leaves you, and scares you when he’s angry? Or, might God be calling you to love your husband in such a courageous way that you boldly confront his sinfulness, refuse to accept his excuses, and, if he wants to remain married to you, require him to show through his behaviors that he’s repentant and truly wants to change. His words are meaningless. He lies. If he wants to be married, it’s time that he takes specific and consistent action steps that demonstrate that he’s serious and willing to work hard to change.

What might that look like? For starters, he needs to get some accountability partners that will help him stay honest, engaged, and sexually faithful. He needs a plan to help him learn how to manage his emotions when he’s angry or hurt so that he doesn’t get destructive, deceitful, or disengage for long periods of time. Obviously he hasn’t been able to change these habit patterns by himself, so he will need to get professional or pastoral help to learn how to deal with his emotions and understand why he does the things he does. These changes do not happen quickly or painlessly but, with God’s help, are possible for the person who is committed and teachable.

I think you fear that if you hold your husband to these necessary changes and he refuses, then what? I’m going to tell you the unvarnished truth. Your relationship is broken. You may stay legally married, you may even still live together, but you cannot have a good marriage if your husband will not change.

Hear me. You can make a bad marriage better all by yourself (by not retaliating or repaying evil for evil), but you cannot make a bad marriage a good marriage all by yourself no matter how good a wife you are. We only have to read through the book of Jeremiah to see how God longed for Israel to repent, to come to her senses and change, but she would not. God loved Israel, but He could not and would not have a close and intimate relationship with her until she was willing to change her sinful, adulterous, deceitful ways.

God knows what you’re going through. Let him empower you to be the wife he wants you to be and the wife your husband most desperately needs. You don’t have to live this way.

Beating The Bedroom Blues

Source: Cindy Sigler Dagnan/Christianity Today

How to make sure sex doesn’t get lost in the busyness and routine of life.

Let’s face it. Fantasies happen. No, not the kind of fantasies you’re thinking about, but how about these?

  • Zzzzzzzzz …. I’m so [yawn] sleepy!
  • After I check off “have sex with spouse,” to-do list conquered!
  • Has she ever heard of a new position?
  • Is that all he knows for foreplay?
  • We really need to paint this bedroom.
  • Is that the puppy/toddler/baby monitor breathing by the doorway? I thought I heard something.

Fess up. Are you cringing? Yeah, me too. Sometimes sex gets lost in the shuffle of senseless schedules and tangled in the unfolded towels. Frankly, it seems an effort. Couples generally have three basic reactions to a bad case of the bedroom blues:

Resignation. When we choose this one, we view sex as something to do and just get over. Worse, we slide into a pit where the thoughts in its depths aren’t pretty. Things are always going to be this way, so why bother? God wouldn’t want me to be this unhappy. Maybe we’re just wrong for each other. So we drift into roommate status with bedroom privileges that we care nothing about.

Radioactivity. This makes sex toxic. We might introduce fantasies or bring pornography into our bedrooms, buying into the world’s view that anything different spices up our marriage and brings adventure into the bedroom. We dangerously compare our marriages, spouses, love lives to everyone else’s seeming superiority.

Someone in either of the above stages is ripe for an affair.

Rejuvenation. We could choose to use a dull time in our love lives to reinvent it, to refresh ourselves, and restore our closeness. Remember whose idea sex was? That’s right, it was God’s. I’m not sure why, but we Christians tend to be shocked by such a reminder. And he’s on your side for sweetening your love life.

What To Do

Here are some ideas to jumpstart your love life and get it sizzling again.

Make sex a priority. In this case, when you snooze, you really do lose. Write it on your calendar if you’re having trouble finding the time. While sex is certainly not the biggest part of a marriage, it is a fairly accurate measure of the health of your marriage. It will enhance your sleep and your energy levels both. What a combo!

Do your homework. My husband and I assign this in marriage seminars: Have sex every night for a week. Yes, that includes the weekend! Why? Because having sex usually begets the desire to have more.

Ask your spouse what he or she needs. Men are different from women. And I’m generalizing here, but the adage is all too true: Women need a reason; men just need a place.

Men, if you truly want to touch your wife’s body, touch her heart first. Talk with her. Consider vacuuming as foreplay! If you have young children, take over bedtime duties and give your wife precious time to make the transition from mommy to sex goddess! Honor her and be sensitive to her needs.

Women, if you truly want to have a great intimate relationship, stop treating your man like he’s a Neanderthal or a cretin because he wants to have sex. This is his God-given desire and his best way of connecting with you.

Switch it up. Take turns planning your romantic evening, whether that means a night out, new lingerie, setting the mood, choosing a different location or position. Plan mood music, candles, a plate of appetizers or fruit with chocolate dip and whipped cream. If your spouse wants to try something new, by all means, give it a try! Not sure if it’s God-honoring? Here are some guidelines:

  • Is it beneficial? If it’s harmful in any way to either of you, it’s a no go. See Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 6:12.
  • Does it involve anyone else? Sex is for the two of you alone. X-rated movies, pornography, or other people, even in your mind, are out.

Consider a do over. If your bedroom has become the repository for bills cluttering a desk, a corner stuffed with books and magazines you’re planning to read during that illusive sudden windfall of time, or a bed chock full of laundry that you need to throw off the bed come sleep time, put your energies into completely cleaning it up and throwing things out. Choose a new theme, paint, or comforter set. The painting alone is worth trying!

Bring back the fun. Remember the anticipation of your first times of intimacy together? Take a moonlit stroll. Revisit the scene of an early date. If possible, plan a trip to your honeymoon destination. Laugh together. Rent a season of Mad About You. Have an I Love Lucy or Andy Griffith marathon complete with popcorn, chocolate, icy colas, and plenty of snuggling. Save up silly jokes or work anecdotes to share with each other.

Get creative. In general terms, sex might well be more important to men than to women. So make the most of it. Make it your goal to christen every room in your house. Greet your husband at the dinner table wearing a tie and nothing else. How about a temporary tattoo and a fun game of hide and seek? Try a fashion show with lingerie. Wake him in the middle of the night for sex. Send a text for her eyes only. Place flower petals on your sheets.

Just be honorable. Godly sex equals good sex. It beats boredom. Yup, every time.

Tag Cloud