Couples and Relationships: A Marriage Can Grow Stronger After Infidelity
A Marriage Can Grow Stronger After Infidelity
By Melodie Tucker
There’s been a lot in the media this past month about infidelity. Jon & Kate Gosselin, Senator John Ensign, Governor Mark Sanford to name the most famous. With so much to lose and knowing so many others who would suffer (like spouses, lovers, children, family members, friends, fans, employees, co-workers, clergy, constituents) still they all chose to pursue passion outside marriage.
Chances are great that even you personally know a couple who has struggled with this very common, yet incredibly devastating, choice as well.The fact is that infidelity has occurred since the dawn of humanity and it remains one of the primary issues facing couples today.
Research studies indicate that it can affect up to fifty percent of couples at some point during their relationship. Infidelity is clearly a common aspect of our human condition, no one is immune, and it is not going away.Is this all just about sex? Too many fantasy films from Hollywood, too many MTV videos, too much porn on the Net?
Did these people intentionally go frolicking in search of all that excitement they thought they might be missing out on? Not likely.In fact, it is safe to say that in many cases, the sex was simply the final result of infidelity, which, no doubt, began innocently enough as a casual flirtation or friendship. Few people who find themselves involved in serious “extracurricular” affairs meant for them to occur.
And most people still consider it morally wrong and are wracked with guilt and shame because of it.The question remains…why and how does this happen?
It happens when couples have communications and conflict resolution problems within their marriage, yet they still long for connection and intimacy. Martians and Venusians have different basic needs and thus they have affairs for different reasons. Martians often tend to have affairs for the ego boost while Venusians stray because they yearn for emotional support.These causes correlate directly to the basic primary needs of men and women.
Martians need trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, acknowledgment and encouragement, whereas Venusians need caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation and reassurance. When these needs are not met, people become vulnerable to making unhealthy choices.
However, infidelity does not have to mean the end of the marriage. In fact, there are many more reasons to work through the issues and stay together. Research has positively proven that married couples are wealthier, healthier, have better sex lives and more successful children.
Regardless of what Jon and Kate think, the facts are that divorce is rarely the ‘best option’ for the kids. Children of divorce are much more likely to live in poverty and be involved in substance abuse, crime, and promiscuity. They suffer more abuse; have lower self esteem and more mental health problems later on in life as well as an increased chance for divorce themselves.
When a marriage is ‘good enough’, i.e. the marriage was relatively happy before the infidelity and not abusive, it is a much better choice to put forth the effort required to rescue the relationship. The good news is that an infidelity can be the catalyst to renewal and an incredible enrichment of the marriage. Here’s how couples can begin the healing process:
- Agree to not make any major decisions right away.
- Focus on improving communications and conflict resolution skills.
- Learn how to process anger, jealousy, guilt and other negative emotions in a safe way.
- Each partner must consider the part they played
- Learn how to give their partner what they need
- Learn how to ask for and receive what they need.
- Commit to deep sharing, honesty, and truly knowing and accepting each other.
- Recognize that rebuilding trust will take time and openness.
- Realize a relationship is a living thing. It needs continual care, each and every day, to keep it healthy, growing, and blooming in love.
Recovery is a long, difficult process, but the reward can truly be the “Happily Ever After” we all still want to believe in for ourselves and our future generations.
Melodie Tucker is a Mars Venus Success Coach and Seminar Leader, trained by Dr. John Gray, author of the world famous "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" series.She has helped men and women all over the world create great relationships that last.
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