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An Affair Does Not Mean its the End

Don’t You Believe it! Myths about Couple Relationships.

John and Marie had lived together for several years. Most weeks John would go out with work-colleagues on a Friday, while Marie stayed in and looked after their two-year-old daughter. John’s career was very significant for him.

Marie also worked, but her career was less important to her. One day her boss said that she should try for a better position in the company. Marie got the job and found she was enjoying work more and that her employer thought highly of her skills.

Very soon, her career became important to her, as well. Within six months, Marie also wanted to go out with colleagues after work on Fridays and that’s when their real problems started!

John got angry and said that if he was unable to meet colleagues after work it would look bad. Besides, he didn’t like Marie going out without him. And, what about the baby -who was going to look after her all evening?

Although Marie and John both thought career success depended upon socialising with colleagues, they fortunately considered their relationship was just as important and decided to seek help.

During our talks with John it became plain that his parents had exerted a huge influence. His father had been the main breadwinner, mother had put her own career second. She had focused on looking after the children. Though he had never said this to Marie, John really thought that the way his parents lived was the “right way”.

However, we have noticed that some of what we learn from our parents is not always helpful in today’s world. John had never questioned his belief that it should be the men who have freedom to go out with work-colleagues, while their partners stay at home minding the children. But that idea won’t wash for most of today’s women.

Modern men need to reflect on why they believe as they do and ask themselves if their ideas are sensible...

“Why should it be me who goes out?
Why should my partner be the one to stay at home?
Why should she have to look after the children?
Why is she the one who ‘can’t be trusted’?”

“My husband can’t communicate” was Mary’s complaint. She told us her partner was unable to talk about his feelings. Whenever she tried to bring up the topic of their troubled relationship, he withdrew from the conversation.

All she wanted was for her partner to listen – but he always seemed to want to jump in and try to fix things.

We helped Mary to realise that communication is more than words. Actions are communication too, and it’s said that for men, actions speak louder than words. Mary agreed to pay more attention to her husband’s actions, and try to interpret what he might be wanting to communicate to her.

Mary was able to tell us about a few times in the past when communication between them went well. We coached her to be able to repeat those things that had made a difference to their communication in the past.

If communication is a problem in your relationship, think about times when it was better. What did you do that made it better? Try putting those things into practice now.

Most of us have friends who’ve moaned about their relationships: “We’re different people now, we’ve just grown apart.” Growing apart is a common complaint for many couples, so let’s consider what happens when we fall in love.

We tend to look at the one we love through “rose coloured glasses.” At first we notice only those aspects of the person that appeal. We look for – and find – common interests.

However, as the relationship matures, we notice other things about the person – aspects we ignored before, especially differences between us. But it’s really important to realise that what’s changed is our perception, not the person.

If you believe you’ve grown apart, sit down and make a list of all those things that attracted you to your partner in the first place. Consider whether those characteristics exist today, and to what extent.

“This affair is the last straw.” Affairs almost always cause intense suffering for the person betrayed. The feelings of anger, hurt and jealousy, together with a diminished sense of self-confidence as well as lowered self-esteem, can be overwhelming.

However, an affair isn’t always the end. Research shows that two out of every three couples who seek marital counselling after an affair are able to resolve the crisis. If this is the situation you’re in, seek professional help before just giving up on the relationship.

“The affection’s gone, it’s all over.” In all loving relationships, the initial feelings of passion tend to diminish over time. People who are unwilling to accept this, or are addicted to the intense feelings generated at the start, are likely to engage in serial relationships. They look for that “high,” and can delude themselves that in the next relationship it will last forever. It won’t!

The expression of affection has to be nurtured, as does any other aspect of a relationship. Like everything else in life, you get out what you put in. Feelings don’t just happen.

Let’s consider Robert and Janice. They had been married for two years and had been together as a couple for six. John came to see us because he was unhappy with his marriage – he felt there was no affection between them anymore.

It seemed they had both allowed work to dominate their lives. As John said, “Janice gets home before me, and is usually tired. When I get home, we get a couple of frozen meals from the fridge and eat in silence in front of the TV.” John admitted that it had been six months since he and Janice had done something together to have fun.

We talked about what John could put back into the relationship. Doing some of the things they used to enjoy seemed the most practical first step. He also decided to take responsibility for his own happiness by playing football mid week with some friends -something he used to do. He encouraged his wife to get some interests of her own.

Janice soon noticed that John looked happier. She admitted to John that she had quietly blamed herself for his unhappiness and had begun to think that he didn’t love her. Fearing rejection, she had stopped showing him affection.

If we think that affection is missing from our relationship, there are two questions we need to ask ourselves: “In what ways have I been showing love recently to my partner? What was different about the time when affection flowed freely in our relationship?” Then, we need to act accordingly.

In the next article we’ll look in detail at nagging….why people tend to nag…..why some men tend to resist.

Most important of all, we’ll consider whether there’s a better way?

This article, written by swift counsellors, was recently published in the Swindon Evening Advertiser


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