Wednesday, January 5, 2011
What do I do? My partner has had an affair which ended... has come to me to confess the betrayal... and wants to work through it in counseling to better our relationship.
We get maybe an hour to an hour and a half once a week with the counselor... let us use that time to find out what was missing in our relationship (probably emotional intimacy) that caused our partner to look elsewhere to fulfill unmet emotional needs (btw - emotional intimacy doesn't equal sex).
A fair guess is that either or both of us felt emotionally abandoned at some level long before the affair happened. If that's the case, the way to salvage the relationship and rebuild trust is to begin to give each other what was missing in the first place. People in emotionally satisfying relationships don't get involved in extramarital avenues because they aren't looking. Period. In order to avoid the trap of a repeat of the same problem later on down the line we need to create an emotionally satisfying relationship. Getting tools to accomplish that should be the focus of our counseling sessions.
We may feel that getting our questions answered will lead to figuring out why our partner looked elsewhere... to discover what was missing. But the truth is that unless each of us begins to be vulnerable to one another and risk being known with all our lumps and bumps... emotional intimacy won't be possible. The way to find out what was missing isn't by questioning... it's by being emotionally available and letting the walls down. When we do that our partner feels safe enough to finally be honest and tell us the truth.
That's a scary thing to do after all the hurt and betrayal that has happened... but if we really are serious about wanting to improve our relationship... that is the recipe my friend.