Affair healing Blog
I came across the recent photo of a full-chest tattoo on Jose, a man who seems desperate to prove how sorry he is for cheating on his wife. It's a kind of confession that can't be easily taken back. And why did he do it? "So that I can earn my wife's trust back for the pain and suffering I have caused in our marriage."
He confesses to being a liar, cheater, manipulator, deciever [sic], dishonest, disrespectful, and apparently one other descriptor deemed too inappropriate for public viewing.
At first thought, we might think: Wow! This guy is really serious about accepting responsibility and making things right. Maybe he is. But there are at least a couple problems with this dramatic declaration.
After reading my earlier post, But My Affair Is Different, I talked to a woman whose husband continued to describe his past affair as a special loving relationship. This conversation occurred during a recent Open Care Q&A session. Listen to the entire conversation using the player below. Here's how the conversation started:
Caller: Your latest article, But My Affair Is Different, resonated with me. That's what my husband has said about his affair. He's recommitted to the marriage and cut off contact with the affair partner, yet he still says, "It was real love. It was something different. Mine was special..." Does that ever go away? Because it hurts me to hear him say that.
I've heard this story before: you have a strong emotional connection with your affair partner and believe your affair is uniquely wonderful. Even though your affair is probably among the 96% destined to fail, you remain convinced (like so many before you) that yours is an exceptional experience. But belief doesn’t change the fact that it almost certainly is not.
I know this because I once told that story, too.
A word to those of you who've had an affair...
I met with a couple who were desperate to determine whether or not their marriage was salvageable. She had recently discovered evidence of repeated sexual communications with other women over the past year and suspected there might be more to the truth. While speaking privately with me, he admitted a history of unfaithfulness in previous relationships and expressed a desire to break this pattern once and for all. In the counseling session, he told her the same thing.
Her response was full of wisdom, expressed in a way that I'd never quite heard before. Here's how their conversation went.
When a partner has been betrayed and carries the wound of an affair, they long for the spouse to feel their pain and accept responsibility for it. To do this, the unfaithful partner must be willing to move toward that hurt rather than away from it. But let's be honest: most of us aren't wired that way.
In the presence of such overwhelming suffering, often expressed in anger, the guilty husband or wife usually reacts in self-protective ways by either avoiding or attacking their spouse. When that fight-or-flight response is mixed with a strong desire to sidestep the shame of an affair, it's easy to understand why so many cheating spouses simply want to voice a confession and then move on to other matters.