Affair healing Blog
The following was written by a person working to recovery from their affair:
I personally believe there are wayward spouses and affair partners who are better fits than the spouses... You need to determine which one you really want to be with. You won't be able to figure that out if you are involved with both at the same time, and eventually a Dday will occur and then you will be forced into a decision you may eventually realize was not what you wanted.
I have some agreement with this viewpoint, but my exceptions to it are significant. Almost every relationship starts, whether we can remember it or not, with a strong sense of connection between the partners that is usually experienced (in the moment) as extremely satisfying, wonderful, and filled with a longing that feels without comparison. As any relationship develops, we learn more about each other and the "flaws" that each possesses. If attention moves to these disappointments then connection diminishes and frustration sets in. We can ALWAYS find people who have strengths in the areas of our partner's weaknesses. Once we open ourselves to exploring a connection with anyone else, we likely experience the same initial euphoria at the start of the new relationship. The feelings in the marriage will never win out over the feelings of connection in the affair.
Some people spend their whole lives seeking out the next new & better relationship. Once the current relationship is determined to be disappointing, they look for someone else with whom connection is easier and more satisfying. These people never experience the deeper intimacies that only come about when we move into vulnerable places with the imperfect people we love.
In most cases, this is what I deal with as an affair recovery counselor: individuals who are experiencing the wonderful beginning (which can last months or a couple years in normal circumstances, but even longer in affairs because the two individuals never really get to experience the daily reality of a committed relationship) believe they have found someone "who really gets me", the "soul mate" who they should have been with instead of their spouse. In nearly every circumstance, this belief eventually turns to disillusionment.
Having said all that, let me acknowledge this: I believe there are women in this world, most of whom I will never meet, who would be wonderful, satisfy partners with me. They are women who would be "compatible" in all the measures that matter to me in relationship. Some of them would be stronger in areas where my wife struggles. My wife could say the same about me.
Marriage and love isn't about finding the best person out there and then committing to them. If that were the case, I would constantly be wondering if maybe there's someone better for me, especially when I feel hurt or disappointed in my marriage. Marriage is two people agreeing to be on that journey together and learn to love each other well, then closing the gate to any other possibilities. Affairs happen when one partner opens the gate and steps outside the boundaries.
The most damage is probably done when the wandering spouse discovers that the affair partner is a good match for them. All emotional affair start that way and all wayward spouses believe that THEIR affair partner is truly better. It's usually not true; but sometimes it is true. And if/when it is true, the struggle to make healthy choices and minimize damage becomes very difficult.
For most of those reading this post, the damage has already been done. For those who have not experienced an affair, this potential (to truly love someone else) should not be an enticement to explore, but a motive to strengthen the marriage boundaries and do the hard work of learning to love.
By the way, I would strongly recommend the short eBook as a thoughtful resource to use in considering the true purpose of marriage: The Marriage Manifesto.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources. Twitter: @TimTedder