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The official blog of familyWORKZ™

October 11, 2009

Crisis of Infidelity

Filed under: Couples — admin @ 8:40 am

Within every marriage lies an agreement that is mutually cultivated and serves as the foundation from which the relationship begins, prospers and, when neglected or broken, fails. The roots of this agreement are cultivated under a wide assortment of conditions: active discussion, constructive negotiation, or passionate play. The voices exercised when developing this agreement can range wide: soft and caring, sober and calculated, or just simply reasonable. This agreement conveys the very essence of the couple and it is what bonds the twosome together uniquely. The agreement is trust – that basic understanding that frames the couple’s relational code of confidentiality. In this sense, trust is meant to convey something more than just the rules of the couple’s contextual and intimate interplay (i.e., rules of engagement). With greater complexity, yet with graceful and economic motive, trust begins in earnest at that moment when the couple defines themselves more as “we” than separate and distinguishable “I’s.”

With the prodigal status of trust being bracketed in the manner described above, it follows that the ultimate breach in a relationship is when this trust is dishonored. This phenomenon can be referred to as a “crisis of infidelity,” a phrase that expressively and plainly captures the crisis “in the breaking of whatever agreement has been accepted by both partners in the marriage.” In short, it can be argued, infidelity is much bigger than adultery. It is less about one person’s error in judgment, with or without intent, and much more about a relational trauma at a very deep and intimately contextual level that leaves behind an attachment scar.

Infidelity is that hurt that is unspoken brought on by the one person who communicates with you best when not speaking.

In an article entitled “Secrets of the Marriage Doctors,” in the premiere issue of My Generation, Scott M. Stanley, PhD, clinical psychologist, codirector of the Center for Marital & Family Studies at the University of Denver writes: “80% of the problems people deal with do not need to be solved, just well discussed.” Allow this just-let-it-soak-in message to ruminate in your brain for awhile, then ask yourself the following questions.

1. When the extramarital affair becomes public, is this therapeutically disastrous? Is the couple unfathomably broken and does it spell the end of the relationship?

2. When trust is breached, it would seem that the couple has entered into a room without any exits. Does this type of situation implicate long term therapy? It would seem that affectional abandonment leads to attitude entrenchment difficulties (e.g., “What did I do to deserve this,” After all these years of faithful commitment look what I get in return,” and, on the other side of the coin, “She drove me into the other person’s arms when she stopped loving me a long time ago.”).

3. Can relational forgiveness occur without a spiritual reference or guidepost? This question is prompted by the comment that “intimacy in marriages is developed through confessions, explanations, and soul-searchings.” Clearly, whether intended or otherwise, this observation has a tone of religiosity.

4. Do possessiveness and intimacy always inversely correlate? Continually? Or can there exist episodic “healthy” pockets of this type of dueling? It seems that that both of these concepts are measured along a common axis (distance), but with disproportionate degrees of mutuality. That is, possessiveness involves closeness that is “commanded” by one person who speaks from a position of control. Intimacy, on the other hand, involves closeness that is “embraced” mutually.

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