Surprise: You’re Not Twins:
You will begin to notice that you and your fiance are very different. When you grew up, you remember the sheer delight at finding a girlfriend who loved just what you loved, someone who mirrored your tastes, loved your music, or picked out the same kind of clothes.
Probably you have fallen in love with someone who does indeed enjoy some of your favorite activities. But slowly, as the sense of” this will be our life” kicks in, you may find yourself reacting to little things that “just feel like someone is not supposed to be that way.” Whether it’s picking up their clothes, writing thank you notes to your parents, or just wanting to hang out on weekends after a tiring workweek, you may feel like, “This long term relationship may challenge me more than I thought.
Getting Along With His Family:
In an ideal world, your families have the same customs, values and expectations. Most partners attach to a slightly different tribe than their own. Like others you may have selected someone whose family has shaped him in different ways, and that’s part of the attraction.
I remember as I would cross the Virginia line to see my parents, I find myself slipping down into my seat and slowing down into more of a Southern drawl. I felt like I was one of the guys sitting on the porch in “He Haw.” Now I had married my wife from Pittsburgh who approached life with enormous focused energy.
Sitting around and chewing the fat just was not her style. It took us awhile to make room for us to deal the contrast in our parents. My parents would come and stay for a week when her parents would drive eight hours and spend a dinner with us, stay at a nearby motel and leave the next day.
When you mom expects a hand written thank you card than you may find yourself caught in the middle of fielding their hurt and expectations. You have gotten used to going along with you mom’s excessive need to be praised. After all it’s the water you swam in for years. Yet your partner might not kowtow because he hates having to live up to someone’s demands.
Finding A Workable Disagreement Style:
I grew up in family that got quite uncomfortable with any curse words, especially when flavored with ire. If you did as well, you might find yourself amazed that your fiancé can be off and running about a minor misunderstanding, with few inhibitions about his sailor like repartee. He may have learned to let such words be water off a duck’s back, but you may find yourself playing and replaying the tape afterwards. If you had said that, when you were growing up, you would have been grounded for a week.
Challenge yourself to realize that you grew up in different familial customs. You can let go of the angst that these words would have kicked up as you were growing up. They do not have the same meaning.
Finding A Balance Between “Alone Time” Versus “Together Time”:
If you came from a family of extroverts who loved nothing more than talking around the dinner table until midnight, you might pick an introvert as a fiancé. Now understand, this does not mean that he does not love people. Yet unlike the people you grew up with, he may demand some alone time to decompress after work or leave a party much earlier than you.
You see unlike you, he does not talk to hear himself think. He does not recharge his batteries while socializing. Instead, he is putting out energy. He will want time to catch up inside with all that has gone down and sort what it all means.
Then he may love to talk to you the next day. This can be worked out if you understand you are wired differently and that you do not have to identify the bad guy here.
Going Out With “The Guys” May Seem Like He’s Not Growing Up:
If his idea of fun still centers on going out to a bar with the guys and getting drunk, you may find yourself confused. While you may associate such behavior as early twenties or college behavior, you may feel much more comfortable with developing couple friendships. You may want to go out together and come home at a reasonable hour.
1. Is it possible for couples to rebuild their marriage after the discovery of infidelity?
Yes, 70% of the couples who decide to make a commitment to extramarital recovery counseling, do find ways to restore a bond of intimacy as researched by Shirley Glass who has explored the dynamics of the aftermath of cheating.
2. Are there any things that we should know to get through the first few weeks?
Ask a few questions like who was it, who knows, how long did it last, where did it take place, is it. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthily, exercise aerobically, call time outs if the fight is getting circular unless the partner who has stepped outside of the relationship can sit and listen. Confide only in friends whom if the relationship works you know they will trust your judgment and decision to stay together.
3. What is the predominant feeling for each partner?
The hurt partner will feel a sense of betrayal having assumed that their partner cherish the promise of fidelity. The partner who has reached outside of the relationship will feel a deep sense of regret and remorse as well as an absolute amazement at the amount of pain that the step has caused.
4. Should there be more questions right away?
The impulse to demand immediate in-depth details poses a huge temptation. Your whole world has been upended. Yet one note of caution: if you wait until you are feeling more grounded, you will be able to take in the facts without them becoming etched on your brain for flashbacks later.
5. What are flashbacks?
After 9/11, many people would see beautiful blue skies and “flashback” to their memories of fearing that their loved one was dead. They would re-experience the terror almost as if it was happening again.
Most individuals who have felt betrayed by infidelity will notice certain triggers like a movie about an extramarital affair will cause a re-experiencing of helplessness upon learning about the details of the affair. These memories can explode into consciousness bringing it all back.
6. What helps in the recovery?
You know the saying, “Time heals all wounds.” In the first few weeks and months both of you will struggle with the pain. As you trust, you can turn your attention to having fun again.
7. Why helps to re-establish trust?
You must follow your remorse by intentional commitment to being open to scrutiny and living up to promises.
8. However, doesn’t this become tedious and leave a sense of being totally controlled by the other?
Yes, those feelings come on strong. Like the police officer who wants to find out if you’re really telling the truth, the person feeling betrayed finds themselves interrogating late into the night. Yet your spouse may feel very unclear about the details. When new details emerge this can be quite damaging to emerging trust.
9. How should I respond to the interrogation, if I feel I cannot stand it?
Agree ahead of time, that at times you will need a time out. Be sure to pick up the discussion the next day to go back over the details so that healing can take place.
10. It seems like this will never stop.
You probably both fear that. Yet the betraying partner can see how hard it is for the hurting spouse to control the feelings and compassion may ensue. The two of you can work together to see that caring about the obsessive thought poses the challenge rather than turn and attack each other.
11. How in the world do we do that?
Teach other what works. The partner who needs soothing, when the flashbacks come, needs to identify what behavior that the other can offer to help walk through the beginning, middle and end of the episode.
12. What would work?
Sometimes, simply a hug will work if offered with compassion. Just knowing that the other is willing to sit through the feelings of hurt and outrage and listen can make all of the difference. In the past, the person who went outside of the relationship would not listen to anger. Now “just being with” the other in times of deep emotion will give a sense of hope.
13. Why are these feelings so intense?
Know that these feelings have a beginning, middle, and end. Challenge yourselves to ride the wave with confidence that they will pass. You can hold each other through them. They will recur but slowly they will be less intense and occur less often.
14. How will I ever be able to forgive?
Forgiveness requires enormous psychological and spiritual maturity. If you come to realize that you want to take the risk of trusting again, you must promise yourself that you know it was a calculated risk and you will forgive yourself if your partner regresses back to another betrayal.
15. Yet I would feel like such a fool.
Your anticipation of this will drag you down. While normal and natural you can block this by giving yourself credit for taking a chance for your children or for the relationship to see if you can learn new forms of communicating. You cannot guess in advance what the relationship will be like if you both work hard to rebuild the intimacy bond between you.
16. Why is the pain so intense?
Deeper down, the pain may overlays previous betrayals in your childhood or other relationships. So the sense of helplessness and injustice piles onto the present feeling of hurt and rage.
17. I don’t understand how anyone who loved me could do such a thing.
Of course, this does not make sense though most partners will feel that they did love the other. Neither of you could anticipate the devastation this has created.
18. So what caused the affair? I felt we had a good relationship.
Many factors can underlie the decision to be unfaithful. One of the reasons has to do with one or both partners feeling distant from the other or even that the other does not care.
Many factors can contribute to this sense of distance. Many couples trace the beginning of losing touch with each other to the arrival of their kids. Long hours at work or travel can exacerbate the disconnecting. Sickness or illness of a parent or child can add to the preoccupation. Difficulties with one’s job or loss of work can add to the sense of loss of the other.
19. Did the process happen in a way that neither of us paid attention?
Yes, as couples begin to have trouble through fighting or not having time for each other, they lose themselves in other things. Our screens, devices, and games become significant distractions that allow couples to sense that the other doesn’t care.
20. So what can we do now that would make a difference?
Recall the activities that you did often when you dated and put some new energy back into playing in that way. Have conflict free zones where you both know you will not focus on the pain or the details. Turn your attention back to taking care of the details of normal living. Express gratitude often for what is good about the relationship. If you both are comfortable with hugging again, do\ make that a part of your daily rituals.
21. What can we expect from our work together through relationship counseling?
They have said to me after their counseling is complete that they know the infidelity was worst thing that had ever happened in their relationship. However, at the end of their counseling, they will assert that it’s the best thing that has happened to them. The hard work of growing from the experience and leaning new tools and skills has opened them to a sense of intimacy they never expected.