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by Shirley P.
With Jean Coppock
Protect Your Relationship from Infidelity and Heal the Trauma of Betrayal
Good people in good marriages are having affairs.
More times than I can count, I have sat in my office and felt torn apart by the grief, rage, and remorse of the people I counsel as they try to cope with the repercussions of their infidelity or their partner’s betrayal.
In 2/3 of the
couples I’ve treated in my clinical practice over the past twenty years, either the husband, the wife, or both were
unfaithful. Broken promises and shattered expectations have become part of our cultural landscape, and more people who need help in dealing with them appear in my office every day.
Surprisingly, the infidelity
that I’m seeing these days is of a new sort. It’s not between people who are intentionally seeking thrills, as is commonly believed. The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love.
82% of the unfaithful partners I’ve treated have had an affair with someone who was, at first, “just a friend.”
Well-intentioned people who had not planned to stray are not only betraying their partners but also their own beliefs and moral values, provoking inner crises as well as marital ones.
This is the essence of the new
crisis of infidelity: friendships, work relationships, and Internet liaisons have become the latest threat to marriages. As these opportunities for intimate relationships increase, the boundaries between platonic and romantic feelings blur and become easier to cross.
Today’s workplace has
become the new danger zone of romantic attraction and opportunity. More women are having affairs than ever before. Today’s
woman is more sexually experienced and more likely to be working in what used to be male-dominated occupations. Many of their
affairs begin at work.
From 1982 to 1990, 38% of unfaithful wives in my clinical practice were involved with someone from work. From 1991 to 2000,
the number of women’s work affairs increased to 50%. Men also are having most of their affairs with people from their
workplace. Among the 350 couples I have treated, approximately 62% of unfaithful men met
their affair partners at work.
The significant news about these
new affairs - and what is different from the affairs of previous generations - is that they originate as peer relationships.
People who truly are initially just friends or just friendly colleagues slowly move onto the slippery slope of infidelity.
In the new infidelity, secret emotional intimacy is the first warning sign of impending betrayal. Yet, most people don’t recognize it as such or see what they’ve gotten themselves into until they’ve become
Most people mistakenly think it is possible to prevent
affairs by being loving and dedicated to one’s partner. I call this the “Prevention Myth,”
because there is no evidence to support it. My experience as a marital therapist and infidelity researcher has shown me that
simply being a loving partner does not necessarily insure your marriage against affairs. You also have to exercise awareness
of the appropriate boundaries at work and in your friendships.
This book will help you learn to observe boundaries or set them up where
you need to. It will tell you the warning signals and red flags you need to pay attention to in your own friendships and in
Most people also mistakenly think that infidelity
isn’t really infidelity unless there’s sexual contact. Whereas women tend to regard any sexual intimacy as infidelity, men are more likely to deny infidelity unless sexual intercourse has occurred.
In the new infidelity, however, affairs do not have
to be sexual. Some, such as Internet affairs, are primarily emotional. The most devastating extramarital involvements
engage heart, mind, and body. And this is the kind of affair that is becoming more common. Today’s affairs are
more frequent and more serious than they used to be because more men are getting emotionally involved, and more women are
getting sexually involved.
Consider this surprising statistic:
At least one or both parties in 50% of all couples, married and living together, straight and gay, will break their vows of
sexual or emotional exclusivity during the lifetime of the relationship.1
It has been difficult for us
researchers to arrive at this absolute figure because of the many variations in how research has been conducted, in sample
characteristics, and in how extramarital involvements have been defined. After reviewing 25 studies, however, I concluded
that 25% of wives and 44% of husbands have had extramarital intercourse.2
This is startling
Vast numbers of Americans are
preoccupied by an actual or potential betrayal of an intimate relationship. Their anxiety is not confined to a particular class, occupation, or age. Infidelity can occur in any household, not just in situations
where partners are promiscuous or rich and powerful. No marriage is immune.
There are, however, steps you
can take to keep your relationship or marriage safe. There are also steps you can take to repair your relationship after emotional or sexual infidelity has rocked it. And there
are things you can do specifically to help yourself through the trauma of betrayal. And you’ll learn them all in NOT “Just Friends.”
A Word About Where I’m Coming From
I was prompted to write this book first by my natural desire as a therapist to offer help and comfort to more
people. Every time my work on infidelity has been featured in the media, I have received an outpouring from desperate people
who say that I’ve helped them survive their partner’s betrayal, rebuild their marriage, and get on with their
I have also given relationship
advice on the Internet, which has connected me to a large number of people mired in the pain of infidelity and looking for
a way out. Although I’m gratified to know that I’ve helped many people personally through these venues, I am hoping
that I can reach many more through this book.
Second, I wanted to bring a
new, fact-based, scientifically and therapeutically responsible approach to the guidance that couples receive. Frankly, there
are no generally accepted standards for therapists and counselors who treat infidelity. As a result, people often receive
bad advice from professional helpers, as well as from well-intentioned friends and family members.
Many of our cultural beliefs
about the behavior of others come from projections of our own attitudes and personal experiences. Unfortunately, these personal
biases also affect the work and recommendations of many counselors. In this book, I draw from solid research and documented
evidence to give you solid predictors about who tends to be unfaithful and why, as well
as proven recovery strategies for healing your relationship.
Some of the research on which
I draw is my own. Twenty-five years ago, my first research project on infidelity grew out of a challenge to my traditional
beliefs. At that time, I, like many others, believed that infidelity could only occur in an unhappy, unloving marriage.
Then I learned that an acquaintance,
an elderly man who had an exceptionally loving marriage, had been having sexual flings for many decades without his wife’s ever knowing. Until the day he died, his
wife believed that she was deeply and exclusively loved.
After this revelation that an
affair could indeed happen in a loving marriage, I felt compelled to search the psychological literature on relationships to learn more, but found very little that
shed light on this seeming contradiction. The lack of research indicated a void that needed to be filled and I wanted to be the one to do it. So I pursued my investigations into extramarital relationships as a doctoral
student at Catholic University of America. As you might imagine, that raised a few eyebrows.
What I discovered from the study
I conducted forced me to revise many of my own beliefs about infidelity, which naturally had been limited by my own experience
as a conservative young woman who had married at the age of nineteen.
Over the years, I’ve done
several other major studies on infidelity with my colleague, Dr. Tom Wright, that have formed the foundation of my research-based
approach to understanding and treating infidelity. My commitment to this field and method is so strong that I am also currently writing a book for
professionals, The Trauma of Infidelity: Research and Treatment.
Here’s a brief overview
of some of my professional work, so that you’ll see the kind of factual information on which I’m basing this book’s
guidance for you and your relationship. Some of my discoveries are counterintuitive and definitely go against the grain of
- Psychology Today study (1977)3. This is the study I was inspired to do by the elderly philanderer.
It compares the marital satisfaction of people who had affairs early in marriage with those who had them later.
At first, I had no idea where I would find subjects for such a study and I ended up calling Bob Anthanasiou,
one of the authors of a sex questionnaire in Psychology Today, who offered to give me the data on the responses of
When I analyzed that data, I found that infidelity in young marriages either meant dissatisfaction or was a
predictor of divorce. In addition, I found some very interesting differences between the sexes that piqued my curiosity:
long-term marriages, unfaithful men were as satisfied as faithful men, but unfaithful women were the most distressed subgroup of all.
I speculated at the time that the reason for these differences was that women’s affairs were more emotional
and men’s were more sexual. Today, however, in the new infidelity, both sexes are citing emotional reasons for their
- The Airport Sample (1980).4 This dissertation research was designed to explore further the sex differences
I had found in the Psychology Today study between men’s and women’s reasons for having affairs. I handed
out 1,000 questionnaires to people at the Baltimore-Washington International airport and at a downtown office park in Baltimore.
Over 300 mailed them back to me anonymously. I discovered that women’s infidelities were about unhappy marriages and falling in love with somebody else, and men’s infidelities were more about the desire for sexual excitement than
because of an unhappy marriage.
An unexpected finding revealed that the most threatening kind of infidelity combined a deep emotional attachment with sexual intercourse.
- My Clinical Sample (1982-2000). In this recent analysis, the 350 couples I treated alone and in co-therapy with
my partner in practice, Dr. Tom
Wright, completed the same questionnaires that I used in my dissertation research.
These couples exhibit some of the same differences between the sexes in their attitudes toward marriage and infidelity as my previous studies.
But it is obvious that in this new crisis of infidelity, more unfaithful husbands have deep emotional connections to their affair partner.
- Therapist Survey (1992-2001). In this study, I switched focus and surveyed 465 therapists at thirteen conferences
regarding their beliefs about the meaning and treatment of infidelity. The results demonstrate that there is very little consensus among couples’
therapists about why infidelity happens and how people should be treated in its aftermath.
You’ll learn other surprising
truths about infidelity, too, from my clinical experience with individuals and couples struggling with infidelity, from my
own research into extramarital affairs, and from other research I’ve conducted in conjunction with Dr. Wright. I also borrow from the collective
wisdom of other respected clinicians and researchers.
Throughout the book, I’ll
use this research to document the concepts and interventions that I am discussing, so that you will be comfortable in listening to and accepting the guidance I give you for protecting your marriage and for getting through your own wrenching experience of infidelity.
I also recount stories of couples
that demonstrate how troublesome triangles develop out of friendship. These show the different reasons people break their
commitments to each other and what you can do to ease your own pain and suffering. Perhaps you’ll recognize a life experience
similar to your own in these stories and see a communication technique that could work for your own marriage.
The stories bring to life the
bare-boned statistics on infidelity and demonstrate how this distressing sociological reality intrudes into too many marriages.
I’ve altered all descriptive
details in the case examples in order to protect the couples and maintain their confidentiality, but the actual interpersonal and individual issues are based on factual accounts.
For the sake of brevity, some stories are composites of more than one individual or couple. I hope that their stories of breakdowns and breakthroughs will show you that you are not alone and encourage you in your attempt to recover from infidelity.
The Need for a New Outlook
Just because infidelity is increasingly
common doesn’t mean that most people understand it. So much of the advice on television shows and in popular books about how to affair-proof your marriage is misleading.
In fact, much of the conventional wisdom about what causes affairs and how to repair relationships is misguided.
An August 2000 column by the
late Ann Landers illustrates this point beautifully - and startlingly. A woman wrote that her husband had casually confessed
to a one-time affair and said that it was over. He also said he regretted it, that it had happened only once with a woman
she didn’t know, and he wanted to come clean and “get it off his conscience.”
He pleaded with his wife to
forgive him. A few days later she came across several bills covering four years that indicated the affair had been ongoing
over that period. The wife writes:
I want to know who the home-wrecker is. I told him
the only way to prove his love for me is to tell me her name. He refused. I have asked him every day since, saying the only
way I can trust him is to know the whole story. Ann, with our marriage at stake, why won’t he give me this information? I am worried
that he cares more about this woman than he cares about me. What should I do?
Dear San Diego,
You should stop pressuring him to name the woman
and be relieved that she is a thing of the past. Most men would identify her in order to get off the hot seat, but your husband
refuses to do that. He may have some integrity after all. If you find it impossible to get past this, please consider seeking
I would have suggested a quite
different response, something like this: “In order for your marriage to heal from the betrayal, your husband has to
be willing to answer your questions. Until and unless you find out what you need to know, the affair will remain an open wound in your relationship. So far, the only integrity he is showing is to his affair
partner. You have every reason to doubt him.
Popular thinking about infidelity
- and the therapy that deals with it--is clouded by myths. The facts, which my research and clinical experience prove, are
much more surprising - and thought-provoking - than unfounded popular and clinical assumptions. Here are a few truths that
you will learn from this book:
Fact: Affairs can happen in good marriages. Affairs are
less about love and more about sliding across boundaries.
- Assumption: Affairs occur mostly because of sexual attraction.
Fact: The lure of an affair is how the unfaithful partner
is mirrored back through the adoring eyes of the new love. Another appeal is that individuals experience new roles and opportunities
for growth in new relationships.
- Assumption: A cheating partner almost always leaves clues, so a naïve spouse must be burying his or her head in the sand.
Fact: The majority of affairs are never detected. Some individuals can successfully
compartmentalize their lives or are such brilliant liars that their partners never finds out.
- Assumption: A person having an affair
shows less interest in sex at home.
Fact: The excitement of an affair can increase passion at home and make sex even more interesting.
- Assumption: The person having an affair
isn’t getting enough at home.
Fact: The truth is that the unfaithful partner may not be giving enough. In fact, the spouse who gives too little is more at risk than the spouse who gives too much because he or she is less invested.
- Assumption: A straying partner finds fault with everything you do.
Fact: He or she may in fact become Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful in order to escape detection.
Most likely he or she will be alternately critical and devoted.
NOT “Just Friends” will give you a more complete understanding of what infidelity really is and how it happens. I will provide you with plenty of substantiated information that will help
you make decisions about whether and how your marriage can be saved. The following facts, although counter-intuitive, are
a good place to start:
- You can have an affair without having sex. Sometimes the greatest betrayals happen
without touching. Infidelity is any emotional or sexual intimacy that violates trust.
- Because child-centered families create conditions that increase the vulnerability
for affairs, the children may ultimately be harmed.
- People are more likely to cheat if their friends and family members have cheated.
- When a woman has an affair, it is more often the result of long-term marital dissatisfaction,
and the marriage is harder to repair.
- Most people, including unfaithful partners, think
that talking about an affair with the betrayed partner will only create more upset, but that is actually the way to rebuild
intimacy. Trying to recover without discussing the betrayal is like waxing a dirty floor.
- The aftermath of an affair can offer partners who are still committed to their marriage
an opportunity to strengthen their bond. Exploring vulnerabilities often leads to a more intimate relationship.
- Starting over with a new love does not necessarily lead to a life of eternal bliss.
75% of all people who marry their affair partners end up divorced.
- Over 90% of married individuals believe that monogamy is important, but almost half of them admit to having had affairs.
Interesting isn’t it?
And not what you’d expect. If you want to maintain your relationship, you need to learn about how to prevent affairs and why so many people engage in behavior that goes against their professed values.
Even so, knowledge alone is
not enough. If you’ve slipped into an affair, or your partner has, you need a map for your journey to recovery. NOT “Just Friends” also gives you the detailed guidance and well-marked routes you need to follow.
Recovering from Betrayal
According to therapists who
treat couples, infidelity is the second most difficult relationship problem, surpassed only by domestic violence.5
It takes years for people to
come to terms with betrayal. Like comets, affairs leave a long trail behind them. When an infidelity is revealed, it precipitates
a crisis for all three people in the extramarital triangle.
The revelation of infidelity
is a traumatic event for the betrayed partner. Understanding it as traumatic has important implications for healing. People who have just found out about a partner’s affair may
react as if they have suddenly been viciously attacked. Where they formerly felt safe, they now feel threatened.
In an instant, the betrayed
spouse’s assumptions about the world have been shattered. Commonly, betrayed spouses become obsessed with the details
of the affair, have trouble eating and sleeping, and feel powerless to control their emotions, especially anxiety and grief, which can be overwhelming.
I have found that the most complete
healing happens gradually, in stages. Because betrayal is so traumatic and recovery takes time, I use an interpersonal trauma
recovery plan that parallels the ones recommended for victims of natural disasters, war, accidents, and violence. My clients are living
evidence of its effectiveness in their individual healing and in the number of marriages saved by this approach.
Today more couples are willing
to try to work through their difficulties in a sustained way. They want to make their marriages “even better than before.”
They want their suffering to mean something. They want their pain to lead them to insights and new behaviors that will strengthen
them as individuals and as a couple.
But most people need help learning
how to change the bitterness of betrayal into fertile ground for growth. They need constructive ways to confront and understand what has happened to them and how, on a practical level, to repair the ruptures that are breaking their hearts and ruining
One of the difficulties of recovering
from the trauma of infidelity is that the unfaithful partner must become the healer. It’s
natural for the unfaithful partner to want to avoid the pained expression on the face of
the person whom he or she has injured, especially when the betrayed partner insists on hearing the excruciating details.
But it’s important for
the unfaithful partner to move toward that pain, offer comfort, and be open to answering any question. The process of recovery is like steering a ship through a storm. Knowing where you are heading can keep you and your relationship from getting totally
lost even when you find yourselves off course.
It is possible to emerge
from betrayal with your marriage stronger. This book will show you how. And you will also learn how to steer clear of such dangerous waters
in the future - if you both genuinely want to heal and are ready to do the serious work of repair.
Prevention Manual and Survival Guide
Many couples are conflicted
about outside relationships that are viewed by one partner as too close and by the other one as just friends. NOT “Just
Friends” is for any man or woman in a committed relationship who interacts with interesting, attractive people.
Love alone does not protect you or your partner from temptation. It’s not always easy to recognize the thresholds that
mark the passage from platonic friend to extramarital affair partner. This book can be a valuable resource for protecting
any couple, straight or gay. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the complex dynamics of how people
form and maintain committed relationships. It will help you better understand yourself and your partner.
NOT “Just Friends” does not focus specifically on individuals who intentionally pursue the excitement of extramarital sex. Philandering can be a sign of either entitlement or addiction. The unfaithful partner who engages in sexual affairs with almost no emotional attachment usually operates undetected
unless something catastrophic happens that exposes the extramarital liaisons. In any case, I want you to know that recovering
from multiple affairs follows the same pathway as that followed by people recovering from a single affair. If the involved
partners are genuinely remorseful and committed to remaining faithful in the future, this book can help them, too.
NOT “Just Friends” speaks directly to the betrayed partner, the involved partner, and the affair partner
at every stage of infidelity. Each individual in this painful situation will find insight and guidance as we chart the course
of affairs from their beginning to their end.
Here is a summary of how
an affair unfolds:
In the beginning, there is a
cup of coffee, a working lunch, a check-up call on the cell phone - all of these contacts are innocent enough and add vitality
and interest to our days. But when secrecy and lies become methods of furthering the relationship, it has become an emotional
When the affair is discovered,
the involved partner is torn between two competing allegiances, and the betrayed partner develops the alarming mental and
physical symptoms of obsession and flashbacks. Both partners are frightened, fragile, and confused. On their own, they may
not know how to cope.
If both decide to stay and work
on the relationship, first on the agenda has to be how to reestablish safety and foster good will. They may be conflicted
about how much to discuss the affair because it’s hard to know how much to say and when. It’s also hard to know
how to remain supportive when a partner is hysterical or depressed and how to live through daily obligations without doing
further damage to themselves and each other NOT “Just Friends” will help guide you through these rocky
stages of your recovery.
Rebuilding trust is the cornerstone of the recovery process. Telling the full story and exploring the individual, relational, and social
factors that made your marriage vulnerable to an affair is vital for healing and recovery.
If you can see through each
other’s eyes and empathize with each other’s pain, then you can be guided in how to co-construct your stories
to help you understand the meaning of what has happened. But you need to be careful to do this in a healing environment with mutual empathy and
understanding. An atmosphere of interrogation and defensiveness will derail your recovery. The technique in NOT “Just Friends”
will keep you on track in this middle stage, too.
After conscious, patient work,
you can become strong enough to deal with the hundreds of difficult questions that keep coming up. Will my partner ever forgive
me? How can I ever trust my partner again? How do we handle the Other Man or the Other Woman who keeps calling on the phone? Should I share my love
letters? What shall we tell the children? How should we handle the moments of pain that continue to intrude months and years
after these events are over?
NOT “Just Friends”
addresses all these problems and it also helps you figure out when it is appropriate to quit being so upset and move on. It
also addresses whether to stay and try to work it out and how to know whether your marriage is a lost cause.
It’s hard to believe that
a marriage can be better after an affair, but it’s true - if you learn how to handle the nightmarish days after
discovery, the traumatic reactions of the betrayed spouse, the revelation of details when the story is told, and the period
of construction when the marriage is rebuilt, brick by brick. Even if you choose not to continue your marriage, you still
have to recover from the trauma you’ve been through.
The road to recovery can be a stimulus for growth, whether you travel it with your partner or you make your way alone. It’s a difficult road, but it is passable and well-traveled for all its difficulties and it’s important to know that it is there for you - and anyone who wants to follow it.
Walls and Windows
Throughout the book, I will use the image of “walls and windows” to symbolize
the level of emotional intimacy within the marriage and within the affair. Many of my clients have told me that understanding where the symbolic walls and windows are in their relationships has helped them enormously in explaining the dynamics of
their relationship and in articulating their feelings of alienation and jealousy.
You can have intimacy in your relationship only when you are honest and open about the significant things in your life. When you withhold information and keep secrets, you create walls that
act as barriers to the free flow of thoughts and feelings that invigorate your relationship. But when you open up to each other, the window between you allows you to know each other
in unfiltered, intimate ways.
In a love affair, the unfaithful partner has built a wall to shut out the marriage partner
and has opened a window to let in the affair partner. To reestablish a marriage that is intimate and trusting after an affair, the walls and windows must be reconstructed to conform to the safety code and keep the structure of the
marriage sound so that it can withstand the test of time.
You install a picture window
between you and your marriage partner and construct a solid or opaque wall to block out contact with the affair partner. This
arrangement of walls and windows nurtures your marriage and protects it from outside elements and interference.
To be healthy, every relationship
needs this safety code: the appropriate placement of walls and windows. Just as the sharing that parents have with children
should not surpass or replace confidences within the marriage, the boundaries in a platonic friendship should be solid. Identifying
the position of walls and windows can help you discover whether a dangerous alliance has replaced a relationship that began
as "just friends."
In the Afterword, you’ll find a quick reference for recovering couples
who want to do everything they can to safeguard their relationship against further betrayal. That section of the book is a
summary of the successful strategies that make it possible for you to step back from the edge, reestablish boundaries, and
commit once more to your primary relationship. It can also help couples who have not experienced infidelity and want to do
everything they can to prevent it from happening in the first place.
The ultimate goal in committed
relationships is to think of your marital partner as your best friend. Nonetheless, rich friendships outside the marriage
are also important for a full life, and it is sad when those friendships have to be forsaken after boundaries that protect
the marriage have been violated. This is another reason why I wanted to write NOT “Just Friends”: to give
you ways to set appropriate boundaries that will preserve your friendships as well as your committed relationship.
My own life has afforded me
the opportunity to nurture and enjoy deep friendships while respecting the sanctity of my marriage. For twenty-five years
I have maintained an affectionate and stimulating professional partnership with Dr.
Tom Wright, my co-therapist and research
partner. Tom and I do not discuss personal matters about our marriages, and we are
very much aware of avoiding compromising situations. My marriage to my high school sweetheart, Barry,
has lasted over forty years, and we regard ourselves as best friends.
Good friendships and a loving
marriage: This is what is possible when you value and preserve the differences between them. You can learn how to keep your commitment strong and your friendships safe, so that you will stay in the safety zone and remain “just friends.”
Otherwise, you can easily cross
into the danger zone where infidelity begins, when you are not “just friends” anymore. If this has already
happened to you or your partner, however, please keep reading.
2008 2005 Dr. Shirley Glass
6 promises that will bring you closer together
By Joan Borysenko, PhD , Joan Borysenko, PhD, is a scientist, psychologist, inspirational
speaker, and author of Inner Peace for Busy Women and Inner Peace for Busy People.
from Prevention Magazine Online
soul mate, Gordon, and I recently got married. You may be thinking something like, "Oh, how fabulous, love is a sweet promise,
even at their age." Or maybe you're thinking, "Why would a woman of almost 60 want to get married again? Is she nuts?" Gordon
and I laugh about being on the longest, hottest date in history.
because of past disappointments and hurts, we're more realistic about what it takes to make love work. This time around, we
wanted to do more than exchange the lofty, traditional "love, honor, and cherish" vows. We wanted to think through the behaviors
that make love a day-by-day reality and create down-to-earth vows to shape and hold our marriage together.
is a statement of intention that's a blueprint for action. It isn't a static statement like "I'll love you forever." Vows are commitments to specific
behaviors to practice every day. Whether you're in a relationship or not, thinking about the kind of behaviors that nurture
love can help you build a better union. Though it may seem that love is an effortless grace that will last forever, sustaining
it takes conscious effort. Here are examples of vows to help you put love into action.
"I vow to not go to bed angry"
a juicy fight, it's tempting to hole up and nurse your grievances, or at least turn your back on your partner and fall asleep
in your own little cocoon of misery. But research from the famous "Love Lab" at the University of Washington suggests that
making an overture at reconciliation is a much better plan.
John Gottman, PhD, found that a couple's ability to bridge the gap after a squabble is one of the keys to lasting relationship
success. And as much as you love one another, there are bound to be times when you get miffed. Even a simple statement such
as, "I feel so anxious when we're at odds. How are you doing?" can turn a disagreement around. On the other hand, if you're
really at fault, an apology is the best possible bridge between two hearts.
"I vow to keep our romance going
- even when I'm not feeling romantic"
Dana was stressed by the toll that motherhood was taking on her marriage. She and her husband, Allen, had been together for 10 years before
their daughter was born, and they loved going out to restaurants, movies, and clubs. But when they had Stacey, their priorities
most new parents, they were exhausted and short on funds. Allen felt abandoned because the lion's share of Dana's attention
went to the baby. Their romance seemed dead, and he became resentful. Dana vowed to turn things around. So she started the tradition of weekly date nights, where they get a babysitter, go out
as a couple, and focus on each other. They're still going strong 10 years later, and she's an inspiration to busy me to put
aside one night a week just for Gordon.
Most women lie about their
feelings to placate someone else, a pattern guaranteed to breed resentment. Let's say your partner decides to watch the Super Bowl with a buddy - but it's also the night that you're returning from
an exhausting week long sales trip. He assumes you want to unpack; you really want to spend the evening with him, but don't
want to be a nag. So you're cheerful and supportive when he runs the plan by you.
But inside you're hurt and
angry, and when he gets home after the game, you're resentful and touchy instead of delighted to see him. That's the antithesis of real love. Vowing to be honest about your feelings promotes intimacy and cuts down on resentment.
"I vow to stay faithful - even if I'm tempted"
Although you may have trouble
imagining that you or your partner could succumb to a fatal attraction scenario, it happens - a lot. Even though most people
say they disapprove of extramarital sex, carefully constructed polls estimate that 28% of married men and 17% of women have
had affairs by their early 50s. It's human nature to feel at least occasional sexual attraction to other people. Acting on
those attractions, however, is where this vow comes in.
The jealousy and anger
that unfaithfulness breeds are the natural enemies of love and commitment.
"I vow to take care of myself"
After Gordon and I had been
married for a month, my oldest son called and started joking: "Hey, Mom, how are you guys doing? Have you gotten fat yet?"
We've all seen couples where one partner is buff and the other looks old enough to be his or her parent.
As a therapist, I've listened
to the disappointment that follows when someone is no longer attracted to a partner who has let himself or herself go physically.
I've also witnessed the sorrow when one partner falls ill or even dies of a preventable condition, leaving the other one feeling
abandoned. One of the vows I've made both for myself and my husband is to take care of myself physically and emotionally so
that I remain vital for as long as I can.
"I vow to cultivate intimacy"
When Gordon asks me how
I am, he's not expecting to hear a mindless, "Fine, dear. You?" He really wants to understand how I'm feeling. That's intimacy - and I plan for us to stay as close as we are now for decades to come.
Intimacy is a kind of mindfulness, a nonjudgmental curiosity about what's unfolding each moment for the other person. You cultivate it by listening deeply, without trying to solve each other's problems or butt in with your own story. Just being heard is a great antidote
to stress, and it's one of the finest gifts you can give your partner.
Try writing your own vows
for your romantic relationship, or for a friend, a parent, a child, or a trusted coworker. Even if the vows are for your eyes only, intentions have power. Put them in a place where you can check them often. A final word: Be gentle with yourself. A vow like, "Above all, be honest," is bound to take continual practice.
Are you cheating
on your mate & don't know it? by Melody K. Hoffman
Are you a man who confides more about your day to your female
friend than your wife? Are you a woman who shares secrets with a male coworker? Do you have a friendship with someone of the
opposite sex that your mate has no knowledge of? If so, perhaps you are having an emotional affair and cheating on your mate.
"An emotional affair may be described as a strong bond and
connection that occurs between two people, and persists without the complete knowledge and consent of your current spouse
or partner," says Dr. Gloria Morrow, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Upland, CA.
"Emotional affairs can involve innocent dinners, movie dates,
and even short trips. However, the central feature of an emotional affair is the sharing of intimate secrets, problems and concerns, as well as triumphs through long conversations on the phone and in person that may not be shared
with your spouse or partner. "
Experts say the crux of an emotional affair is that many times
the persons involved are totally unaware of this behavior and that they are being unfaithful.
"These intimate relationships are usually not based on physical attraction and/or sex; rather they tend to be based on friendship where the two friends
share common interests," adds Morrow. "So since sex is often not involved initially, the parties may convince themselves that
the intimate relationship they are enjoying with someone else is totally harm less. These individuals may be fooling themselves."
Relationship therapist and radio talk show host Audrey Chapman agrees these
relationships may begin innocent. "I would say that 7 out of 10 times, it's in innocence. In this society most people don't
think when they're being emotionally intimate with someone outside the relationship, they are doing anything wrong because they don't understand how potent intimacy is. Intimacy is really the glue that connects two people. If they understood how potent intimacy was, they wouldn't take it outside of their relationship."
Dr. Daniel E.
Williams, a clinical psychologist
based in East Orange, NJ,
warns that there is a thin line between this type of an affair and physical closeness.
"Sharing your thoughts and feelings is an act of intimacy. It is 'making love to another's mind before you make love to his or her body.' It is extremely intimate and very satisfying to feel understood by another individual. Verbal intimacy is only one step away from sexual intimacy."
Chapman agrees that by indulging in this emotional satisfaction, desires for this person
"When you are emotionally intimate with someone, you share with them all of the deep, dark secrets or painful experiences that you have and that makes you have
an intense emotional relationship with them.
And that's the foundation of a permanent, committed relationship.
The only thing left is sexual intimacy. In casual relationships, you don't have that type of intimacy. You're just social, go out, have a good time, you do fun things, but emotional intimacy involves a deeper experience, it makes you more connected to the person," says Chapman, a counselor at Howard University
and the author of a new book Seven Attitude Adjustments for Finding a Loving Man.
You cannot be emotionally involved outside of the marriage
and expect to maintain a healthy, passionate relationship at home with a spouse or a mate, experts claim. Even if the relationship
does not escalate to sex, it can be draining and destructive to the marriage.
By giving the majority of your emotions to someone other than
your spouse, he or she can end up feeling isolated and lonely.
"You cannot invest yourself completely in more
than one relationship," explains Dr. Williams.
"One of them will suffer. The individual will have less energy and less interest to invest in his relationship with his significant
Morrow, the author of Too Broken to be Fixed? A Spiritual Guide
to Inner Healing and Strengthening the Ties that Bind: A Guide to a Healthy Marriage, says when you are emotionally involved
with an outside person, the hard work that is sometimes necessary to maintain a healthy love relationship may begin to disappear.
"If you are emotionally engaged with another, you may find
yourself paying more attention to the needs and desires of that person and less attention to those of your spouse and partner.
When someone else is meeting our emotional needs, it may become more difficult and less desirable to put in the time and commitment
that is critical for healthy relationships," Dr. Morrow
Experts declare that all male-female relationships are not
emotional affairs, and that platonic relationships do exist. However, they stress that these relationships are difficult to
maintain while married or in a committed relationship and warn there is certainly the potential for an affair to develop.
Also, a key breeding ground for emotional affairs is when a
person is having trouble in his of her current relationship and he or she seeks his or her needs to be met elsewhere.
To avoid being emotionally unfaithful,
psychologists say to be aware of the signs of an emotional affair and make a conscious decision and commitment to work daily
on the love relationship you are committed to.
"Your relationship and marriage has to be the
base, has to be the main point in which you refer to," emphasizes Chapman. "It can't be the second
point. Your partner needs to know that you have this friend and know the friend. There should be an introduction so that you're
familiar with that person and you feel good about that person being in your life. That friend is a support system to your marriage or relationship. It should never be where that person is isolated and kept a secret."
COPYRIGHT 2004 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
Therapist warns of emotional infidelity
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The, Mar 3,
2002 by PETER
Are you a woman who shares secrets with a male friend? Are
you the kind of man who reviews his weekend plans with a female co-worker? Or do you go out for drinks with a colleague of
the opposite sex?
If you are married and answer yes to any of these questions,
then therapist M. Gary
Neuman has a word to describe your behavior: unfaithful.
"We can't fool ourselves into believing that we can have intimate relationships at work and still have a great relationship at home," says Neuman. "My message is that if you want to infuse
passion and have a buddy for the rest of your life, you have to keep that emotional content in your marriage. Otherwise, it's
not going to happen."
Neuman, a Miami Beach
psychologist, has raised hackles in the marriage counseling field with his recently published book, "Emotional Infidelity
(Random House), that decries male-female friendships outside marriage as a form of adultery.
The funny thing is that while Neuman's views might seem extreme,
even his critics say his central premise - that friendships between members of the opposite sex can harm marriages - is probably
"It's a concern," says Shirley Glass, a Maryland
psychologist and longtime researcher into marital infidelity. "Many love affairs begin just that way."
Marital infidelity, the sexual kind, is hardly an uncommon
phenomenon in contemporary America. Nor
does it show any sign of abating. According to a 1998 survey by the University
of Chicago, about 25% of married men and 17% of married women in this
country admit to having been unfaithful.
Glass suspects those numbers are too low. Her own research
suggests it is probably closer to 25% of women and 40% to 50% of men.
How many married men and women might admit to an emotional
infidelity? Probably 55% to 65%, she says, and she thinks the numbers are growing.
Her own definition of emotional infidelity is more cautious
than Neuman's. Glass thinks a friendship between members of the opposite sex must have three traits to be an infidelity: emotional
intimacy that is greater than that within the marriage, sexual tension and secrecy.
"Friendship becomes a problem when it becomes a replacement
for a marriage or takes place outside a marriage," says Glass.
Hamit Aizen, 38, of Reisterstown, Md.,
says she used to think that opposite-gender friends were fine for married couples - but after nine years of marriage she no
longer feels that way. Instead, she puts a greater
priority on preserving intimacy with her husband.
"I don't think I would ever cross the line, but I'm really cautious," says Aizen, a teacher.
"The longer you're married, you sometimes start looking for other things."
A married father of five, Neuman, 37, believes society generally
has underestimated how harmful these emotional infidelities can be. He has counseled too many couples not to have noticed
that marriages suffer when men and women seek intimate relationships outside the home.
Even if the relationship doesn't escalate to sex, it can be
debilitating to the marriage. "If you put the majority of your emotions in the hands of someone other than your spouse, you're
still shortchanging your spouse," he says.
Consider, he says, the husband who gripes about work with a
female co-worker and then comes home and doesn't really want to repeat his complaints all over again with his wife. The result?
She is isolated from a significant part of his life.
Or what about the wife who flirts with other men? Will she
feel better or worse about her marriage when she compares their reaction to her husband's behavior? He might seem much less
fun and exciting.
In his book, Neuman refers to research that shows it's where the majority of extramarital affairs
He sees opportunities for inappropriate behavior behind every
lunch, every trip for drinks after work and every business trip where men and women are thrust into prolonged social contact
without their spouses.
Modern "team building" retreats where male and female co-workers
climb walls or rappel down cliffs? Neuman would like to see them end.
"We have hard and fast decisions to make," he says. "What's
the most meaningful thing in your life? We can't fool ourselves into thinking we can have these intimate relationships at
work and still have a great relationship at home."
Neuman admits his views are unconventional. But in the three
months since his book hit the stores, the volume of hate mail he has received has surprised him. Many of those letters are
from women who angrily accuse him of condemning the presence of educated women in the work force and rekindling a kind of
Victorian attitude toward them.
Even Glass thinks he overstates the harmfulness of a friendship.
"It's fine as long as it's not a replacement for marriage. You just have to ask: If you say or do things you wouldn't want
your spouse to see or hear then you need to take a few steps back," she says.
Susan Townsend, a Towson, Md.,
psychologist, says it is usually the emotional intimacy that develops in affairs that devastates marriages, not the fact that
one partner has had sex with another. Whether that develops over the Internet or from direct contact doesn't seem to matter.
"People can end up feeling isolated and lonely in their marriage,"
says Townsend, who teaches a course called PAIRS (Practical Application of Intimate Relationship
Skills) to couples who want to improve their relationship.
Townsend and other therapists say such male-female friendships are possible when both parties
understand their boundaries. One of the first steps toward "affair-proofing" your marriage is simply to make sure a couple
spends some time on a weekly basis having a meaningful conversation.
"The more a couple knows each other, the better off they are,"
she says. "If you strengthen the bond between the couple, there is not so much temptation to look elsewhere."
Glass suggests that friendships become a problem when there's
some attraction involved. If you sense that chemistry, she says, that's when it's time to put the walls up -- maybe avoid
some social situations that "create more of a male-female situation."
Neuman's 10 rules for avoiding emotional infidelity:
Keep it all business in the office.
meetings with members of the opposite sex outside the workplace.
polite ways of ending personal conversations.
particular care not to have regular (perhaps daily or even weekly) conversations about
your life outside work.
unflinchingly honest with yourself.
Avoid cordial kisses and hugs, or dancing with members of the opposite sex.
drink in mixed company.
Copyright 2002 Journal Sentinel Inc. Note: This notice
does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
by Lynn Norment
Ebony Magazine (1998)
They do it for love. They do it for sex. They do it to feel beautiful and boost their self-esteem. No, we're not talking about why women get married, but why women cheat on the men they have married.
Female infidelity is not a new phenomenon, but it is a fact
of life that many people, including women, don't want to acknowledge. While the cheating man has long been the subject of boasts, jokes, novels and movies, the unfaithful
woman is now getting more attention and scrutiny. And justifiably so. Whereas decades ago, the unfaithful wife was a rarity, an abnormality, today's
missus is more likely to cheat than her predecessors.
The first reliable estimate concerning infidelity was made
in 1953 by renowned sex researcher Alfred Kinsey,
who in his landmark study found that 50% of husbands and 26% of wives surveyed had cheated by age 40.
However, in recent years, women have been catching up to men.
A 1997 Ball State University study suggests that young women, those under age 40, are just as likely to
commit adultery as men their age. Among older couples, the stereotype of men being more likely to stray holds true.
Sex researchers agree that today more women are committing
adultery. At the same time, more and more women are working outside the home alongside men, oftentimes in office environments
that are charged with sexual electricity. In addition, some studies show that the more sexual partners a person has before
marriage, the more likely she or he is to cheat on a spouse.
The reasons women cheat vary considerably. Some get involved
in extramarital affairs because they are lonely, others because they want to escape the monotony of marriage. Still others are motivated to cheat due to revenge after they find lipstick or other tell-tale signs of their husbands' infidelity.
Then there are the selfish, character-flawed women who marry good men who love and take care of them but continue to consort with other men for sexual excitement or for the money and other material goods the men can provide.
Sex researchers say that men sometimes get involved in affairs
out of fear of getting too close to their wives or simply succumbing to temptation or their egos. But when it is the wife who strays, it often is due to hunger
for emotional intimacy rather than a wish to avoid it.
Dr. Joyce Hamilton Berry, a clinical psychologist with offices
in Washington, D.C., and Columbia,
Md., says that when men cheat, it is usually not an indication that they are
unhappy in their marriages. "When I counsel clients, I compare male infidelity to a man walking into the kitchen and seeing a chocolate
cake sitting on the counter. It looks good; it smells good. He is not hungry, but he will eat the cake anyway.
In other words, men sometimes cheat when they see a woman who
is attractive and appears to be interested, and even though there is nothing lacking in their marital relationships, they
initiate affairs anyway.
On the other hand, women usually cheat when the marriage is
not fulfilling and is already in trouble. They cheat because they feel neglected, or because the husband has been unfaithful."
Audrey B. Chapman, a family therapist and author in Washington, D.C., concurs with Dr. Berry. "Men
tend to want to massage their egos," she says. "Women, on the other hand, tend to cheat for support, nurturing and to reinforce their own desirability. They feel neglected themselves, and they decide to get it [sex] elsewhere."
Other therapists agree that many women feel they are taken
for granted and viewed by their husbands simply as housekeepers, baby-sitters, errand-runners and providers of services needed for their own personal fulfillment or gratification.
The women are unfulfilled sexually and emotionally. Consequently, the reason that a woman cheats has a lot to do with the man being cheated on. According to relationship experts and women themselves, the following are among
the reasons women cheat:
For various reasons, many women are emotionally needy, and they sometimes seek sex outside of marriage to confirm that they are okay, that they are beautiful and desirable, that they are sexy, that somebody loves them for the real women they are rather than for their cooking, housecleaning and child-rearing abilities.
Sometimes the husband takes the wife and the marriage for granted,
and she feels used. He never wants to go out for dinner or a movie. He hardly wants to talk and shows little interest in her
job, her desires or her dreams. In fact, their conversations mostly revolve around home repairs and the children. A woman in such a situation
is a prime candidate to seek self-assurance outside the marriage.
In today's society, there is much emphasis on achievement and
accomplishment, on having prestigious commodities, such as a fabulous home and a stylish car, as well as fashionable clothes, jewelry and
electronic toys. People work hard, and they play hard, so hard they often neglect their emotional lives. "By the time they get home from the job, they are used up," says family therapist Chapman.
"There is no time or energy for a quality home life, so they
get sex on the run, at home and otherwise. One of my clients says she occasionally gets a `hit' or what she calls a `booty
call.' When you are living on the run, that's what it boils down to. Romance is removed, and the marriage becomes just a physical
relationship or involvement."
Many women need more than that, and sometimes they go outside the marriage to fulfill that emotional need. Another sex researcher says that "most women are having affairs because they are lonely for a more real relationship."
The folksy bit of wisdom that declares "hell hath no fury like
a woman scorned" probably had its origin in a broken marriage resulting from a husband's infidelity. When a woman finds lipstick
stains on her husband's clothing or unfamiliar condoms in his pocket, it brings out the worst in her. Especially if she has
been a devoted wife and mother who has sacrificed her career for the sake of her husband and family.
Some women admit that they have embarked upon affairs only
after their husbands confessed to or were caught in their own indiscretions. For these women, revenge is sweetest when they keep it to themselves.
tells of a client who was so angry when she discovered that her husband was having an affair that she immediately purchased an expensive diamond ring and told
him he had to pay for it. In retaliation, she also embarked upon an affair.
Like some men, there are women who are thrill-seekers. They
love or need their husbands and wouldn't think of leaving them. But they want more than their spouses can or are willing to provide. They are tired of the monotony of monogamy,
the Wednesday-night-only sex. It is a common fact that marriages grow stale after a few years, especially after the arrival
And if the couple doesn't make an effort to keep the thrill
and excitement in their marriage, the wife just might seek that fulfillment elsewhere. "What she feels
is missing from the marriage, in terms of excitement, is him acting like he is really turned on," says Chapman. "She wants her husband to feel that
he can't wait to be with her, that he is glad to see her. This level of excitement is not very realistic.
Most relationships, if you've been in them long enough, reach
a plateau. But there are those who don't want to reach that dreaded plateau. When they feel that the marriage has reached
that level, they go outside of the marriage to find that spark."
SEDUCTION & ROMANCE:
Many women long for the days when they and their husbands were
courting. She wants to rekindle the fire. She wants to be wined and dined, courted and romanced. When she tries to be romantic
with her spouse, he ignores her and continues to read the newspaper or watch sports on television. A customer at the hardware store or the neighbor down
the street compliments her on a new hairstyle, and she glows. Her husband had not even noticed.
When a co-worker pays her a compliment, she feels alive again.
When he invites her out to lunch, she accepts. Compliments and lunches lead to after-work cocktails, and before she realizes
what is happening, she is involved in an affair. But she continues because she enjoys the flowers and candy delivered to her
She looks forward to his telephone calls, the sweet nothings.
She relishes that she finally has found someone who really listens to her when she talks about problems with the children or concerns about her job. When she gets home, her husband only wants to talk about how tough his day was. This is not what she wants
to hear. "Why can't he be more attentive and supportive?" she wonders. Why can't he be more like her lover?
`SUGAR DADDY' SEARCH:
Some women continue their search for that elusive "sugar daddy"
even after they marry men who do not fit that ideal. Despite the fact the husband loves her and is a good father and a great provider, the woman wants more. Due to her own character flaws, she is attracted to
men with money and power and position. When she has an affair, it is more about getting the material goods that she feels are missing in her life.
She remains in her marriage, and may even love her husband, but gets the "whip cream" by engaging in an affair with a man who can provide her with furs, diamonds, travel
and cash. She is primarily in the relationship for what she can get out of it. Dr. Berry
says when she counsels women about the risks that they are taking, they often express no guilt. "They say to me: `Why should I give it up? He wants to give me these things,'" says Dr. Berry. "They are selfish and feel no guilt about the impact such a relationship could have on their husbands and marriages."
There are women who get involved in extramarital relationships
purely for sex. When a woman reaches her sexual peak, in most cases her man is past his. The woman wants sex; her husband
does not. Dr. Berry says that one client complained to her:
"My husband is not responsive to me sexual]y anymore. It has been months since we've had sex. He'd rather play golf than have
sex." Dr. Berry says this is a common complaint among women
whose husbands are maturing.
"As men age, their testosterone levels drop. They can't perform
sexually as vigorously as they once did. With many men, their egos are very much tied to their sexual performance. So rather
than continue to have sex with their wives, they completely withdraw. It's a performance issue," explains Dr. Berry. "They would rather not have sex at all rather than be embarrassed. They feel ashamed. Men often don't discuss their sexual problem to find a solution because of their pride and egos."
Consequently, the women are left in sexless relationships,
and many times their husbands don't explain to them why they are shying away from sex. Instead, the women are left feeling that their husbands simply don't want them anymore. They feel deprived and neglected, making them prime candidates for affairs.
THE `LITTLE WOMAN' SYNDROME:
Today, there are many couples in which both husband and wife
work. But regardless of what type of job either has, the man feels that his job is more important and more stressful. Dr. Berry recalls a couple in which, during counseling, the husband said: "I have a very demanding job. I'm tired when I get home." The wife responded: "I also have a demanding
job, but I'm expected to come home from the office and cook, care for the children and clean the house. All you
do is sit and watch television and complain about how tired you are."
"This is the little woman syndrome," says Dr. Berry. "The man works, the woman works, but the woman is expected to take care of all the man's needs and family's needs like women did in the '40s and '50s when they did not work outside the home. The man doesn't want to hire a housekeeper because
he doesn't `want someone else going through my stuff.' He wants his wife to do it all. But the days of the '40s and '50s are
long gone. Women are not just sitting there waiting to meet the man's needs."
and other marriage counselors say many women are less thrilled about being wives and all that marriage entails. Such a situation may drive the working
woman to have an affair. She feels she is not getting the support she needs from her husband, and neither devotes time nor energy to nurturing the marriage. At the same time, the woman is getting attention, compliments and lunch invitations
from a coworker or a client. It could be the beginning of subtle seduction.
Despite the numerous reasons that women give for cheating,
none serves as justification for this unfaithful act that is devastating to couples and their marriages. It is not just about sex; adultery is the intimate betrayal of the marriage contract. Though a 1997 University of Chicago study showed that nearly 1/5 of Americans
admit they have cheated, 78% said infidelity is always wrong.
Some experts say men and women both should be wary of the traditional
excuse of blaming their partners for their cheating ways. Marriage and sex are 50-50 propositions in which individuals are responsible for their own emotional satisfaction as well as their own orgasms. If you are not getting what you need in your relationship, you should try to work out the problem with your mate. If that fails, you should either adapt to the situation, draw up a mutually satisfactory agreement - or move on
It would be prudent for couples to reassess their relationships
and try to breathe new life, excitement and romance into their marriages. Without sufficient stimulation, any long-term relationship will grow stale. Successful and happy relationships blend friendship and companionship with passion and sex in a cycle of ever-changing intensities.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Johnson
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group