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Understanding Affairs...

Its very common for individuals in a relationship to find connection with someone close to the relationship simply because the more regular you see someone the more likely you are to connect , I’ve seen affairs spark between sister and brother in laws, friends of partners, neighbours etc but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they sought to enter into a relationship with this person, I genuinely think its a case of right place right time or shall we say wrong place wrong time rather than a premeditated act of callous.

I know a couple who are now married but had known each other for many years and even gone out socially as a foursome with their respective partners and genuinely felt nothing for each other other than platonic friendship only to meet at a party a year or so later and end up in an unexpected clinch , why then and not before ?

Clearly at that point when the clinch occurred in each of their respective relationships they had been a loss in connection with their partners and both individuals were longing to replace that connection with another.

Boom you then have two people in the same space with the same desire needing to be satisfied and the rest is as we say is history.

I asked both parties a year of so into their new marriage together if they ever felt in the years leading up to that night if either of them had any inclination that they would end up spending their lives together and they both genuinely said that they had never thought of each other as anything more than a friend so it goes to prove that we only seek what we lose.

I think if your disconnection has occurred as a result of an affair and the decision has been made that the marriage is irretrievably broken down then its really important to try and understand what was the root cause of the disconnection, sometimes its the not understanding why that causes us so much angst going forwards.

When you look back into the timeline of a relationship you may see quite clearly when the initial disconnection occurred, for example a very common time for couples to disconnect is when children are born, one partner has an increase in work hours or there is an increase in time spent apart because of work or family commitments.

It is helpful to identify and understand when and why the disconnection occurred and what we did or didn’t do to reconnect at that time, it doesn’t necessarily make any disrespectful behaviour acceptable but it can help us understand the reason for it and hopefully as part of this learning we can walk away from the relationship knowing its truth because from my experience its the unanswered questions that are so hard to reconcile with.

The voice in my head is saying quite understandably , that’s all well and good Rachel but when you’ve just had a baby or have worked a 14 hour day you don’t feel like connecting with anything other than a glass of wine and a pillow, so what you’re saying is that to prevent my partner having an affair I need to be on my A game all of the time or I’m destined to end up divorced ?

No that is not what I’m saying , this is about being comfortable with healthy disconnection and practicing positive communication, so for example if your partners been working long hours and you’re aware that you haven’t had much quality time together in recent days or weeks try and talk to your partner about scheduling in some time for each other, you don’t have to act upon this right away but its important that you identify it and then make a plan to give the relationship some time.

This could be as simple as a nice meal at home, a drink, walk in the park, anything that allows you to spend time alone together that will give you the opportunity to reconnect.

It doesn’t need to manifest itself in big gestures, just making a nod to the needs of your partner and investing some energy in communicating is all you need to do.

Regular connection is often all it takes to keeps things on track, its the long periods of disconnection that are destructive ,when a state of disconnection becomes the norm.

If you’re aware of a connection forming or know that a connection has been sought or formed with someone outside of the relationship then I advise if you can get your head around it to first look at the dynamic of your own relationship and then the perceived dynamic of the opposing potential relationship and see what it is your partner may be seeking to for fill, is this a meeting of minds ? of bodies ? or a connection based on shared interest or shared emotions ? in exploring and observing this connection you can work on either trying to dissolve it in favour of re-establishing connection in your own relationship or make the decision to confront your partner and ask them directly what is happening and then try and encourage open communication where you can both discuss what this disclosure means for your relationship

So what if You’ve discovered your partners been having an affair

You may feel sick in the stomach, you may want to scream, hit out, throw things, cry , you may feel angry, distraught, this is pretty hideous and I’ve been there so know exactly how repugnant you’re probably feeling, what to do is the question or I’d say what not to do should be the question ?

At this very moment you probably don’t feel like being reasonable, calm or in control and that’s totally understandable but for the moment just sit tight and breathe deeply.

(That said this is dealing with worse case scenario and you may not be experiencing such heightened emotions at all in which case you may be able to sit and talk reasonably but for many this can be a very explosive confrontation)

I don’t advocate violence or breaking the law, cutting up suits or scratching cars is really best left to the weekly tv dramas but scream and shout if you need to and don’t be ashamed of doing it, that rage inside you has got to come out somehow however the last thing you need at the moment is to be arrested so say what you have to say to your partner and then remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

At this point I think its advisable to create some space between you and your partner so if you’re living in the same property, one or other of you needs to go and stay with friends or in a hotel and give the other some processing time especially if this bombshell has been dropped from a great height.

Whatever you’re feeling its important to release this energy now otherwise its going to come back with vengeance during COMBUSTION , the fact is your partner has betrayed you and you need to express your feelings and thoughts about their actions and if you can’t for what ever reason say it to their face then write it down,

People must be accountable for what they do in relationships.

If your relationship is over as a result of this affair because either your partner is leaving to be with this other person or if you are simply not willing to forgive this betrayal the reality is you are now about to embark on a journey back into single life and to move through this transition as drama free and as dignified as possible you need to allow yourself to process your emotions as and when they arise, repressing emotions will only lead to the manifestation of creating far more destructive emotions further down the line.

When I say allow the emotions to come through you I mean allow them to bubble up and flow out- sometimes I find when I’m really upset or angry if I give in to it and have a good gut wrenching wail or scream it seems to die down a bit and that’s simply because I’ve allowed it to be present, acknowledged it and not tried to repress it. If I’m feeling angry I had a good shout and scream and maybe whack a beanbag with a tennis racket but I always make sure I let it out.

Your body and brain is so clever, if you think about when you have an infection your body creates a temperature so it can sweat out the infection, we have natural built in defence mechanisms that are there to serve us and we should allow our bodies utilise them.

Tears are often said to be sad words that we can’t speak, we are very clever and we should listen to and act upon our instincts far more, if you feel like you need to cry then you must cry, not crying and “being strong” doesn’t make you strong, it only serves to make you weaker by forcing you to carry around that upset that if only you had of cried out you would’ve released itself.

In this very volatile space I would advise you to talk to a very small number of trusted friends or relatives , keep your life small while you try and get you head around this, have courage and be kind to yourself xx

In combustion, stage two there is a bit more about how to surviving this crazy headspace you may be living in but my next blog looks at whether or not you should forgive an affair....??