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MY PARTNER HAD AN AFFAIR – WHAT DO I DO NOW?

Divorce: 50 % of marriages end in divorce

Our ability to remain monogamous is becoming more difficult in an age where cheating is easier than ever before.  Statistics show that almost fifty per cent of marriages end in divorce, and second marriages end in divorce at a rate of seventy per cent.  About one third of marriages end because of infidelity.

Although studies vary, research shows that almost sixty per cent of men and forty-five per cent of women will cheat at some point in their relationships.  Statistics further shows that affairs last an average of three years, and few last more than four years.  Looking at these numbers, it seems that cheating doesn’t make people happy either.

Infidelity is painful

Discovering infidelity can be painfully devastating and when the affair information becomes available many questions and emotions race through your mind.  You ask questions such as "what did I do wrong?" “what is wrong with me?” and “am I not enough?”  It may seem that the only option open to you is when to leave, not if you should leave.  You may feel as if you have no other choice, but in the back of your mind you might not really want to break up. 

Everything is not lost when an affair is discovered.  It is possible that, despite the incredible pain of the infidelity, the affair was a wake-up call for your relationship.  Couples who can “stand still” and take the time to recognize and come to terms with the pain the affair caused, can have the opportunity to create a better, stronger, more vibrant relationship with their partner, if both are committed to working through the issues that the affair has brought up.                                                      

Be open to the truth

One of the first things you will need to do to heal from the affair is to explore the question of why it happened. You will have to be open to hearing the real honest truth.  Most people want to blame the cheating partner, and the cheating partner does have to take responsibility for pursuing the outside relationship.  But, no affair happens in a vacuum.  So, part of asking ’why’ will most likely include the betrayed partner hearing things about his/her own behaviours that he/she may not want to hear, such as ways he/she exited the relationship prior to the affair, perhaps without even realizing it.

As hard as it may be to contemplate your own contribution to the pain of your “broken” relationship, the affair may actually point directly to parts of yourself that you will need to work on to grow as an individual, as well as the parts of the relationship that weren’t working before the affair began.

 

MARITAL CONFLICT AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH

What really happconflictens when a couple is experiencing conflict and fighting in a relationship?  Conflict is actually your friend and fighting is a paradoxical “invitation” to get your needs met.  Through conflict growth is actually trying to happen.  The message of conflict often is: “I have needs that are not met!”  For example, I need to be seen/heard, I need to be myself within the marriage and still be loved and not judged.

 

When these needs are not met, we tend to get reactive and protect ourselves by being defensive and critical towards our partner.   One partner’s criticism usually triggers the other’s defensive adaptations, and in the end emotions escalate and nothing gets resolved.  This leaves both partners within the marriage feeling disconnected, alone, angry and sad. 

Meet your marriage partner's needs

Conflict further prevents you from hearing your partner’s “heart”, his or her longing for connection, wholeness and aliveness.  Conflict is an eschewed and unconscious effort at trying to tell your partner about your unmet needs and the pain it causes.

Marriage counselling provides a way out of this impasse by creating the right conditions and safety for growth to occur, enabling your heart’s longing to be heard.  An attuned therapist is tuned in to the needs of the couple and sees conflict not as a sign that there is something wrong with the relationship or that you are incompatible, but rather that you are the perfect combination inviting each other to grow into wholeness. 

Shifting your view about conflict as a gift towards growth, can bring a deeper experience of commitment, love and joy to the couple.   Committed relationship is not about finding the right partner; it is about becoming the right partner.

 

 

 

 

 

 CARING FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP                                                                                                                                                                            

Within a marriage, romance goes hand in hCaring coupleand with caring behaviors. John Gottman (1994) found that happy couples have a 5:1 ratio of caring behaviors in contrast to negative behaviors. In other words; for every one negative interaction between the couple, there are five positive behaviors.

Gottman’s list of caring behaviors include: showing interest in your partner; loving behavior; show that you care for your partner; give appreciations to your partner; show if you are worried; have empathy with each other; accepingt each other; make use of humor and jokes; have fun and share in each other’s joy. Unhappy couples, on the other hand, have a 1:1 ratio of positive and negative interactions.

How can you tell if your partner feels loved and cared for? It is those actions that make your partner say: “Awwwh – Wow! That’s great, Thank youuuuuuuuuu!”, “It is just what I wanted!” Such actions are probably pushing your partner’s “I am being loved button”. Gary Chapman (2003) also wrote about this in his book: The five love languages. His love languages include: Physical contact; quality time; words of affirmation; gifts and service (doing things for your beloved with your hands).

You can get hints about your partner’s “love buttons" by listening to what Wade Luquet (2007) calls “random droppings”. These are things your partner mentioned on numerous occasions, but that you have not really paid much attention to. For example, you might have heard your partner commenting on the theme music of a movie you were watching, and he mentions that he would like to have a CD of the soundtrack. Make a mental note of that, and surprise him or her with a CD. Or, you might hear her say that going to “ABC” resort is on her bucket list, make a mental note of it and next time you have the opportunity of going away for the week/end be sure to take your partner there. Make mental notes of these “random droppings” and surprise your beloved with it. You cannot go wrong because you heard him/her saying what it is that they would like. caring couple a

Surprises are unexpected acts of kindness that need not cost you money. Maybe a note in the lunchbox suggesting a loving, motivational or sexy message, a note against the windscreen, a handwritten love letter, or an unexpected delicacy that shows you were thinking of him whilst shopping; giving your beloved a sensual massage or watching the rugby match with him (although it might not be your favorite pastime) can be ways of putting energy back into the relational space.

In order for you to have a good and satisfying relationship you need to incorporate creativity, playfulness and sometimes a little bit of naughtiness. You should be able to feel the bond between you physically, in your body. It is general knowledge that the body plays an important role in feeling loved. When someone touches or kisses you or stares in your eyes for longer than 20 seconds (with your faces being 15cm apart) the brain releases an endorphin called oxytocin – a so called ‘feel good’ and bonding hormone. It causes an extremely intimate sensation – almost equal to an orgasm. It reinforces the couple’s closeness, their bonding.

Caring for your relationship takes a conscious, aware and active decision as well as effort where romance and fun are planned, even though you might not feel up to it.  The real question is "What does the relationship need from me?" rather than "What do I need from the relationship?"  The secret is to communicate about it – to talk and to listen. Communication is the starting point to intentional, conscious romance. Couples who can consciously choose to re-romanticize their relationship are the truly happy couples.

Sal my kinders steeds kan floreer al is ons geskei?

 

Gepubliseer deur Susan Eksteen | 18 Junie 2020

 

Die ou waarhede bly steeds waar, soos om na jou kind te luister en kwalteit tyd saam met hulle deur te bring.  Weet ook dat jou kinders deur ‘n pynvolle, stressvolle tyd gaan en maak tyd vir hulle.  Praat weer van voor af met jou kinders in elke nuwe ontwikkelingsfase en -stadium van hul lewe.  In elke ontwikkelingsfase is dit nodig om sommige van die dinge wat gebeur het verwerk en om daaroor te praat, om dit te prosesseer, sin daaruit te maak, en te verstaan. 

 

Om tyd te maak vir jou kind in die gejaagde lewe van vandag is moeilik.  Probeer om nie te veel aktiwitieite aan te pak nie, anders sal jy nie die energie hê om tyd saam met jou kinders 'n prioriteit te maak nie.  Twintig tot dertig minute per dag se ononderbroke aandag aan jou kind/ers sal vir hom/haar die boodskap gee dat hy/sy vir jou belangrik is, dat hy/sy betekenis het vir jou as sy ouer en dat ma/pa graag saam met my wil wees; dat ek belangrik is en raakgesien word.  Weet wat jou kind geliefd laat voel en sorg dat jy iets daarvan elke dag vir en met jou kind/ers doen. 

 

Vrae wat na egskeiding moontlik deur jou kind se gedagtes kan gaan is: “Waar gaan ons bly?”, “Gaan ons genoeg geld hê?”, “Wat gaan van my word as pa/ma siek word?”, “Sal ek nog universiteit of college toe kan gaan?”, “Wat as ons trek?”  Die lys gaan aan en aan.  Om hulle te help om oor hierdie en ander vrae duidelikheid te kry is dit vir jou as ouer nodig om hulle bekommernisse en vrese met erns op te neem en daarna te luister. 

 

Moenie oor jou kinders se gevoelens oordeel of dit afmaak asof dit niks is om oor bekommerd te wees nie.  Hulle voel moontlik onveilig as gevolg van die veranderde omstandighede en as ouer behoort jy hierdie gevoelens raak te sien, en as jy kan, ‘n oplossing daarvoor bied.  Jy kan byvoorbeeld sê: “Ons moet let op hoeveel geld ons spandeer en nie onnodige goed koop nie, maar ons sal met die geld uitkom”.

 

As die kinders nie by jou as ouer bly nie, is daar baie geleentheid en redes om geleidelik al minder kontak met die kinders te hê.  Jou gewese man/vrou kan dit dalk vir jou moeilik maak om die kinders te sien, of jy kan met iemand anders in verhouding wees en julle spandeer meer tyd met sy/haar familie en kinders; of, jy kan voel dat jou kinders kant gekies het teen jou en eerder by jou gewese man/vrou wil wees.  As ‘n ouer het jy ‘n morele verpligting om in kontak met jou kinders te bly.

 

Sorg dat jy as ouer aandag gee aan die klein dingetjies wat belangrik is.  Deesdae is dit maklik om daagliks in kontak te bly deur bv. facebook, sms’e en e-pos.  Laat weet jou kinders elke dag dat jy aan hulle dink en dat jy vir hulle omgee en wens hulle ‘n lekker dag toe.  Jy en die kinders kan ook saam kerk toe gaan of op uitsappies gaan.  Raak betrokke by die kind se skool.  Dit is moeilik vir werkende ouers, maar daar’s baie naweek aktiwiteite by ‘n skool waar jy jou hulp kan aanbied. Maak seker jy maak die beste gebruik van jou beskikbare tyd saam met die kinders.  Wees daar vir hulle en daag op ten spyte van dit wat in jou pad staan of hoe moeilik jou gewese man/vrou dit vir jou ookal maak.  Wys jou kind jy stel belan in dit wat vir hom/haar belangrik is.

 

Laastens, vertrou jouself, en vertrou God en wees verseker daarvan dat jy die beste ouer vir jou kind is.  Glo in jouself en dat jy‘n liefdevolle, meelewende ouer is en kan wees, en dat jy jou kinders kan bystaan en lei deur hierdie moeilike tyd van hartseer en pyn waardeur julle as gesin gaan tydens die egskeiding.  Weet ook dat jy die beste persoon is wat jou kind/ers kan bystaan om ‘n gesonde en blink toekoms te hê.

 

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