Infidelity is devastating to a marriage–the hurt, loss, confusion and anger take their toll. But an affair does not automatically mean the end of the relationship. If both parties want to repair and rebuild the marriage, then it is possible to do so. And the couple can actually end up with a healthier, stronger relationship than they had previously.
Posts with an Intended Audience of ‘Dating’
Our culture is in love with the fantasy of the perfect spouse who will meet all our needs and never fail us. But in reality, a significant part of developing our capacity for meaningful long-term relationships is learning how to bear with one another’s imperfections. I’ve touched on these themes in other posts previously (including some videos), but wanted to share an excellent article I recently came across that gives a nice overview of how Romanticism (as a common philosophical approach to relationships) has distorted our expectations, and ironically made it harder to experience the kind of relationship it promises to deliver.
This is Part 2 of 3 in the series Love Talk Film Festival, Expert Panel (2015).
Fellow panelist Aaron Bacue, M.A., ABD, (a communications instructor at James Madison University) shares some of his thoughts on how couples can keep their relationship vibrant, and I springboard off of his thoughts with some concepts about how our brains work with patterns. (This video is ~3 minutes long.)
This is Part 1 of 3 in the series Love Talk Film Festival, Expert Panel (2015).
One of the reasons we (in our culture) can too quickly pursue divorce is that we mistakenly believe a spouse can resolve certain internal struggles for us, which in actuality can not be resolved by one’s spouse. This sets up a fantasy expectation which we can end up perpetually chasing, believing that if we can just find the right person, then we will feel complete, loved, etc. Unfortunately, this dynamic often makes it harder and harder for us to see that the resolution to our pain, loneliness, etc. actually resides within ourself.
This is Part 5 of 5 in the series Exploring Conflict in Relationships (2013 Interview).
In our culture we tend to place undue pressure on the marriage relationship, filling it with expectations (conscious and unconscious) that this relationship (and our partner in particular) will meet all of our needs. This is problematic for a number of reasons, but one of the most important is how this default approach to romantic relationships inadvertently leads to a loss of self.
This is Part 4 of 5 in the series Exploring Conflict in Relationships (2013 Interview).
I am periodically asked if relationships (particularly marriages) can be repaired. Thankfully, the answer is Yes! The core requirement is that both parties still want to repair the relationship, or at least are still open to repairing the relationship. Sometimes one or both parties can be in a period of uncertainty, where they are trying to figure out their feelings regarding whether or not they still want to work on the relationship. Though that is usually a difficult season (for both parties), even in those times the door is still open to healing and reconnecting.
This is Part 3 of 5 in the series Exploring Conflict in Relationships (2013 Interview).
There is a wide range of how bothered, or not, one can feel about the imperfections of life, oneself, one’s partner, etc. An important skill to develop is how to discern which issues are important to give time and energy to working through.
This is Part 2 of 5 in the series Exploring Conflict in Relationships (2013 Interview).
If you are a new couple (i.e., newly dating, engaged or married), and you have an awareness that relational conflict is a part of life, it can be desirable to try to find ways to prepare for those future conflicts. Nobody likes pain, and so if we can do things now to reduce future pain, that is appealing. I do think that we can do growing in the present that does positively impact our future conflicts. However, where we can get into trouble is when we focus primarily on trying to somehow prevent or avoid future conflicts–that actually ends up “feeding” our fears rather than helping us build the muscles we need for navigating conflict constructively.
This is Part 1 of 5 in the series Exploring Conflict in Relationships (2013 Interview).
Sometimes we have conflicts with those close to us (especially our partner) that seem disproportionate to the actual circumstances (e.g, an intense fight about the TV remote). We might wonder about our self and/or our partner, “Why is this such a big deal?” And we might be tempted to minimize things because we don’t (yet) understand what is going on (with us and/or our partner). However, if we’re fighting about it, then something is bothering one (or both) of us. The key is learning how to take those fights that seem to be about “nothing” and turn them into opportunities to learn more about the unidentified something that is needing to be worked through.
Sometimes when a couple comes in for marital counseling they both, on some level, (and perhaps only unconsciously) want the counselor to take their side and help them change their spouse. This is an interesting dynamic and one which, if I succumbed to, would actually not be good for either spouse or for their marriage. So what I seek to do is tricky: I seek to be on everyone’s side, and also no one’s side. What I mean is that I seek to be there for both spouses individually, but also be there for the marriage.