We are emotionally divorced

We are emotionally divorced

Are you living together because it makes sense, but in reality there is no real emotional connection anymore? Experts call this being “emotionally divorced”.

Like many parents, Joe and Lisa devoted a lot of time to raising the kids. They worked long hours and spent all their remaining energy on tending to their kids’ needs. For 25 years, they served their children and watched the kids leave the nest, one by one, until it was only the two of them left at home.

Now they try to imagine how things were before they had kids. They used to sit on the porch and talk about work, exciting things and adventures for hours. Lisa would instinctively know when Joe had a tough day at work and offer him something to drink, leaving him to cool down for an hour or two before joining him in the study to discuss what was on his mind.

Joe could listen to Lisa talking for hours about the latest movie that she saw, and Lisa would listen attentively when Joe told her about the big sporting event that he watched with his friends.

Joe and Lisa were friends and companions. They made each other feel heard and seen. When one partner felt the need to connect on an emotional level, the other one would sense it and make themselves available.

This is how their relationship was in the beginning, but slowly – without being able to pinpoint when or why – they became disconnected. They started ignoring each other’s needs, or became too tired to invest time and attention in each other.

An observer would be able to notice catty or mean-spirited remarks by one partner (and the subsequent hurt look in the other’s eyes), but this emotional pain never got addressed because there simply wasn’t time to talk about things. After some time, the small rifts got deeper and started causing major damage to their relationship.

Are you Joe and Lisa?

After the kids left, Joe and Lisa’s relationship became increasingly disjointed. Sometimes they would eat together, other times not. Some nights they would sleep together, but more often each one  would sleep alone. Each of them carries the weight of his or her own burdens, fears and concerns alone, and they don’t share in each other’s joys either.

Both Joe and Lisa know that they have lost their emotional connection and that they are being inauthentic when they put up a united front before friends, family members and their adult children. Keeping up the facade is part of the emotional divorce.

Can you prevent it?

  • If one of you notices that you are becoming emotionally distant as a couple, it needs to be addressed without blame.
  • Commit to living in the present. Focus on what’s happening between the two of you now.
  • Try to pay attention to the emotional needs of your partner. Try to give him or her the emotional support that they are looking for.
  • If your partner isn’t a talker or sharer, you need to start asking leading questions.
  • If you are worried about raising an issue because it might lead to a fight, empower yourself by reading books and information about conflict handling. See a professional therapist if necessary.
  • Remember that your partner is also feeling hurt, scared and helpless.
  • Remind yourself that you used to be very close and emotionally connected. It might take some work, but you can get back to where you were and become an even closer couple than before.
Do people get divorced too easily?

Do people get divorced too easily?

Past generations grew up with a different idea of marriage. They believed that it meant forever and it’s something that you fight for. For a variety of reasons, it seems that people view marriage differently these days. Divorce has become more acceptable and easier, but are people separating for the right reasons?

Can a marriage really survive an affair? Some people believe that if the offender is truly sorry and remorseful, and proactively works at making the wrong right, then it shouldn’t lead to divorce. But what if it happens again? Do you have to repeatedly forgive your partner for cheating, even if it’s something that chips away at your psyche, well-being and your trust in your partner?

Mary’s* marriage was in turmoil when her husband moved in with a married woman, after being with Mary for 25 years.

“I filed for a divorce, but I’m a born-again Christian and because of this, I had a personal struggle going through with it. The Lord spoke to me several times during this period and I found it very hard to move forward with the divorce.”

Eventually, she did get a divorce. “I walked away from the marriage with nothing, but I’m grateful that I was able to feel the presence of the Lord during this time of struggle.”

Experts believe that a heterosexual marriage can’t survive homosexuality, but in Nadine’s case, it did. Nadine and her husband were very much in love and they had a great relationship, until he told her that he had experimented with another man.

“Initially, I didn’t want to ask questions about the situation because I was afraid of the truth. Within a year of being married, he started to contact gay men on Facebook. We went through turmoil and we were on the brink of a divorce, but today our marriage is stronger than ever before thanks to God, who has a master plan with our lives,” says Nadine.

Do the rules change or not?

Most people and some experts agree that there will always be exceptions to the rule. Divorce attorney Lindi Wademan says it’s important to distinguish between solvable marital problems and extreme situations, such as when someone is filing for a divorce because their child’s safety is at risk due to physical or emotional abuse. If one partner has a psychological disorder, suffers from an addiction or changes his/her sexual orientation, then it could be an unsolvable marriage problem.

Some relationship experts believe that divorce is the right way to end a relationship in the following situations:

  • If there is serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse against a partner or (even worse) a child.
  • When there is repeated cheating and the transgressor doesn’t change his/her behavior.
  • When a partner’s sexual orientation changes.
  • When both parties can honestly say that they have done everything in their power to try to make the marriage work.
  • If one of the parties has a serious addiction that drives the family apart.

When to not get divorced

Lindi says that in other situations and scenarios, the chance of reconciling a marriage is always a possibility.

“According to my opinion, other issues such as minor irritations over bad habits, financial pressure, a difference in opinions or interference from friends or family are all challenges that can be overcome. If both parties are willing to work on the problem and the relationship, and in some cases, consider marriage counselling, then reconciliation is possible,” says Lindi.

Divorce is never the right thing to do if you have any doubts. Personality differences, different tastes, a problem with your sex life or different libidos are definitely not grounds for a divorce. If cheating took place and it was a once-off affair that both parties feel will never happen again, then divorce isn’t the path that your relationship should follow either. Even if you feel your partner doesn’t make you happy anymore, you still have a lot of inner and relationship work to do before divorce becomes a viable option.

What is the reality today?

In a perfect world, the above-mentioned situations and the logic applied to relationship goals make sense, but things often take on a different shape in reality. Lindi says there are usually a few reasons why people get divorced and not “one big thing”.

Some of the main reasons for divorce that she sees in her law firm include the following:

  • Poor communication.
  • No shared interests.
  • Financial reasons.
  • Sexual incompatibility.
  • Inability to accept each other and wanting to change the other person.
  • People feeling a lack of support from their partner.
  • Couples not making enough effort to spend time together.
  • Unwillingness to work on the relationship.
  • Unwillingness to see a relationship therapist or marital counsellor.
  • Restructuring of families where stepparents or stepchildren don’t get along.
  • Emotional, verbal or physical abuse.
  • Religious differences or having different values.

What does the Bible say about it?

Düring Cornelius, a teacher at the University of Potchefstroom, says divorce is contrary to the Word of God and His wonderful master plan for each spouse. As humans, we have contaminated God’s work through sinful rebellion.

A counselor may, however, reach a point where all paths of reconciliation have been exhausted and one or both parties are still intent on destroying each other. In this case, the partners would be advised to disassociate themselves with the marriage.

“However, this has to be the last resort and the result of a person or both parties continually being destroyed by another person’s behavior. It’s also the result of one or both parties’ inability to let healing and recovery through Christ work in their lives.”

Düring also believes that contemporary consumer culture and products wipe out our ability to deal with marital problems or face adversity in relationships. If something becomes a problem, it needs to be removed from the marriage as quickly as possible. Our culture of wanting instant gratification means that we want to solve a relationship problem as quickly as possible, and this often means that a divorce can look like the ideal, quick solution.

“Divorce is never a solution. At best, divorce is an emergency exit. Nobody wins in a divorce case and if there are children involved, they are the biggest losers.”

Is it really too easy to get divorced?

Divorce attorney Aletta Loubser says that in earlier years, the legal requirements for getting a divorce made the process less appealing and likely. In some countries, a person could only file for a divorce through a High Court legal process.

“Nowadays, the legal procedures are more accessible and the parties in a marriage are not faced with a legal obligation to work on their marriage. The divorce proceedings revolve around arrangements relating to children, support, and the distribution of assets and expenses. If the parties agree on these aspects, then a couple can get divorced quite quickly and easily,” says Aletta.

Consider the following if you want to get divorced

  • Do you still have feelings for your partner? If your partner treated you badly, there is probably a lack of emotional intimacy. If you still care about and love your partner, then consider counselling instead of divorce. Be careful to not confuse feelings of guilt, or the fear of loneliness, with care and love, though.
  • Does what is left of your marriage still constitute a marriage? A marriage consists of two people who form a triangle with God and work towards the greater good of the relationship, it isn’t about two people fighting to get their own needs met.
  • Do you really want a divorce or do you only want to threaten your partner with a divorce? If you’re angry and frustrated, then you may threaten your partner with a divorce to make sure your partner knows how serious you are. If you’re looking for solutions, however, divorce threats aren’t an option.
  • Is your decision emotional or rational? You can’t make a decision like this when you are experiencing overwhelming emotions.
  • Consider your reasons for a divorce carefully. Do you hope that the threat of a divorce will make your partner treat you better or value you more? If you want to change the dynamics between you and your partner, then counselling is the solution and not divorce.
  • Carefully consider the consequences. Divorce can shatter your dreams, and it can affect you and your children financially and emotionally. Don’t feel guilty about these things in a toxic relationship that’s hurting you, but consider all the consequences.

Can every marriage be saved?

If you are considering a divorce, then mull over your decision a lot. Listen to the thoughts and opinions of others, but realize that nobody can make this decision for you.

If you get a divorce, then commit to not having a victim mentality about it. Forgive transgressions and realize that a fulfilling life is within your reach after the divorce. If you are unsure, do whatever you can to save your marriage.

God is bigger than our problems and there is always a chance that a “guilty” or “sick” partner can be healed. In cases where a divorce is theoretically justified, the divorce should take place within the context of protecting a family from the person’s disease.

Reasons such as wanting to take time to find yourself or growing apart from a person don’t justify a divorce, says relationship therapist Elmarie van Wyk. “Both parties must be willing to work on the marriage.”

Change takes time and you can’t expect immediate results from one therapy session. At any point in time, you can decide to get divorced, but once you are divorced, it’s very hard to turn the relationship around.

Additional sources: www.divorcesupport.about.com.

Compromises vs sacrifices

Compromises vs sacrifices

Many young couples learn early on that compromises are going to be a big part of their marriages. A compromise means that you need to make concessions and often accept something that is less than desirable for the benefit of the relationship.

Marriage demands both small and big compromises. If you are used to late-night snacking and your partner prefers an early dinner, then it will only take a bit of flexibility on your side to eat earlier. This type of flexibility should obviously extend to your partner offering to adjust his game of golf so that he can take care of the kids when you want to go shopping on a Saturday – not because you expect it, but because he loves you and he wants to do it.

Compromise is about meeting each other halfway, and it’s an agreement that is achieved through adaptability. If you are crazy about stand-up comedy, but hubby wants to watch old war documentaries and there is no way to record one of them, then you need to join forces and mull over your options. The problem is that human beings are selfish, and it’s almost natural to want more than you are giving.

So how do you reach a compromise with your partner? On Articlesbase.com, Gillian Reynoldts says you need to decide which wars are worth fighting. It’s about deciding when to stand up and when to step down, because a compromise can easily become a sacrifice.

A compromise is essentially trying to negotiate a situation where everybody wins, while a sacrifice means giving up something you value or deem worthy. Both compromises and sacrifices are noble and necessary, but many marriages encounter problems when there is an imbalance between these two concepts, explains Rodney Southern in his article entitled “Is your marriage filled with compromise or sacrifice?” (Associatedcontent.com).

A compromise is reached when each person leaves the discussion feeling a sense of happiness or success, says Corey Allen, a licensed family and marriage therapist and professional life and relationship coach. But Corey doesn’t believe in compromise, because instead of compromising most people simply give in.

“Most people, especially nice guys, pleasers and fixers, give in when they are opposed, because giving in helps them to manage their own distress and discomfort with conflict. They give in because they hope to make their partners happy, but if they consistently feel like their needs aren’t met in return, then the relationship gets damaged,” says Corey.

This can create certain expectations in a relationship. If one partner agreed to visit the in-laws when he or she didn’t want to, he or she may expect sex or something else in return for their sacrifice. If your husband wants to play golf on Saturdays, then you may expect him to help around the house more during the week.

This creates friction because a marriage doesn’t work according to a scoring system. How nice would it be if you raked in ten points for meeting his friends? Then you would know that you had ten points in credit and you could claim it back when you want your partner to take care of some household chore or family obligation.

Unconditional love makes this kind of point scoring a complete no-go. If you are only doing something for your partner because you expect to get something in return, then your relationship wouldn’t survive or thrive.

“Instead of thriving, the lack of a ‘return’ will create frustration and disappointment. These tiny disappointments will accumulate over time and create a big wall of contempt,” says Corey.

Many people can relate to starting with making a compromise, but the situation turning into a sacrifice on their behalf over time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually happen the other way around (with a sacrifice slowly turning into the more beneficial situation of a compromise).

Lindsey* says: “My husband is the type of person who is always open to new adventures and opportunities. He has been yearning to move overseas for a while. I’m a pharmacist and the pharmacy where I work, regularly gets brochures with the headline: ‘Do you want to work in America?’

“In the past, the postcards have ended up in the trash, but when Daniel* recently got his hands on them, he suggested that we investigate this opportunity. I was totally against the idea, and this is where a two-year-long struggle about the issue began.”

Lindsey and Daniel’s son was only one year old. They had recently cancelled the lease on their apartment and were looking for a larger family home. Lindsey wanted to start building a home and raising a family, while Daniel was intent on conquering the world.

“We were on completely different wavelengths about the move, but I conceded and accompanied him to his first meeting with the emigration consultants. To keep the peace, I even went along to the second meeting. When Daniel asked me where in America I would like to live, I said: ‘Anywhere, because I’m not going to go.’”

The next stage was writing an exam so that she would be able to work overseas. She refused to write the exam and stopped taking her contraception with the hope of conceiving again. Daniel started questioning why she wasn’t completing her exams and during this time, she fell pregnant with their second child. Then she decided to write the exam so that she would theoretically be able to work in America.

“We were constantly fighting about the move. Daniel said it would be better for our family, but I felt that we would be far away from our friends and family. Daniel’s response to this argument would be that we would make new friends.

“He said the move would be better for our children because they would have more opportunities in America. Each valid point had a totally valid counter-argument, so we were not getting anywhere,” says Lindsey.

Lindsey passed her pharmaceutical exam. Moving to America, would now mean that Lindsey would be the breadwinner and Daniel would be a stay-at-home dad.

“It was really tough on our marriage. We fought constantly, I was miserable and I didn’t even want to pray about it,” says Lindsey.

In the end, Daniel decided to stay. Lindsey’s resignation letter was typed by Daniel, but the letter was never handed in.

“I started to realize that Daniel really wanted this move. It was as if something inside him was driving the move and he couldn’t fight it . . . and I decided to give in. I accepted that this would be a sacrifice that I could make, and I didn’t want to regret not going if our lives didn’t pan out as planned.”

Lindsey told him this, but Daniel said he didn’t want to go if it would make her this unhappy, because the move wouldn’t work if they both couldn’t see it as a positive change in their lives.

“A paradigm shift took place when my name was drawn for an American Green Card. While I never asked for a sign that this is something we should do, I realized that this could be a sign from God that maybe He had a bigger plan for our family in America . . .”

The Green Card changed the whole situation, as it meant that Daniel would be able to work overseas. The paperwork is still being completed and they don’t have Green Cards yet, but the outcome looks positive.

“We are in a different phase of our lives now, and I trust that God will let things unfold as they should. I also know that if Daniel and I are not united about a decision, then it won’t work.”

Daniel is worried that Lindsey is only agreeing to the possibility of the move because she is sick and tired of fighting about the issue, but Lindsey argues that it isn’t the case.

“Now it’s also my decision. The past two years have been hell and moving would have been a complete sacrifice on my behalf, but now I see it as a compromise. I also trust that we will make a success of any situation – wherever he goes, I will go with him. I also learned that even if we move away from God, He doesn’t move away from us. I believe with everything in me that things will work out.”

How should you handle compromises?

Start by asking yourself whether an issue will be important in a day, a week or a month’s time? If the answer is no, then you can give in (this is a pretty broad way to categorize compromises, and obviously it can change according to the situation). When it comes to important decisions that can change the dynamics of your relationship, a compromise may seem impossible, but there is always a solution.

Give yourself and your partner space to think thoroughly about your point of view and your reasons. Determine why you think and feel that you are right in this specific situation, and give each other the opportunity to present your cases. If both of you do this, there is a good possibility that you will be able to understand your partner’s perspective. This won’t necessarily lead to a solution, but it can make compromising easier.

Compromise can only happen when two people who feel equally strong about something can clearly communicate their needs. Strong, mature people can still put their partners’ needs above their own, but they can do this from a place of calm independence, as opposed to fear, conflict or a need for approval.

Ask yourself: “Am I acting from a place of love and integrity, or simply to keep the peace?” If it’s to keep the peace, then you’re not reaching a compromise. You’re sacrificing.

Additional sources: www.ezinearticles.com, www.simple­marriage.net.

*Pseudonyms were used.

Forgive your partner

Forgive your partner

Forgiving someone who has hurt you is one of the hardest things to do. However, it is not only the right thing to do, but you are also able to personally benefit from being a forgiving person.

Human beings hurt each other, as it’s part of human nature. The ways in which partners hurt each other within the context of marriage can range from being hurt by unnecessary criticism to the pain that follows when discovering your partner has been having an affair for years. Sometimes it’s indeed hard to forgive your partner.

Why should you forgive?

There is a saying that a happy marriage is a unity between two people who can forgive easily. Couples who can’t forgive each other, can easily get caught up in a power struggle. Sooner than later, the issue revolves around being “right” or “winning”, instead of working together. People who are committed to their relationship are more inclined to forgive their partners.

Research shows that forgiveness can be beneficial for the person doing the forgiving. Those who can forgive have lower anxiety and stress levels, lower blood pressure and fewer signs of depression. The ability to forgive also boosts your immune system.

According to wtf-fun-facts-tumblr, forgiveness is the most important character trait that contributes to happiness. Statistics from TheIcebreak.com also showed that men are less likely to forgive infidelity (men are 22% more likely to end a relationship if they have been cheated on than women).

From the Bible

In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says: “If you forgive others for their transgressions, the Holy Father will forgive you. But if you can’t forgive others, then your Father won’t be able to forgive you either.”

Forgiveness is a constant attitude

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude,” said Martin Luther King. Forgiveness is a conscious process where you decide whether the other person deserves your forgiveness or not. At the end of the day, you don’t forgive someone to give them peace of mind, but you do it to cultivate peace within yourself.

Do it for your health

According to the Mayo Clinic, unforgiveness can contribute to many health issues. In contrast, forgiveness can:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Reduce your risk of alcohol and drug dependency.
  • Reduce symptoms of depression.
  • Improve mental health.
  • Improve heart health.
  • Improve your self-esteem.

What forgiveness looks like

Author and motivational speaker, Michael J Chase, says you need to be sympathetic towards the person you want to forgive.

Michael had to forgive his father at a certain stage of his life and he said the following about the process: “Forgiving my father became a possibility when I wasn’t fighting him anymore. I could only forgive him when I was able to see the world through his eyes and be more empathetic towards him. It was freeing and relieving, but it was also heartbreaking. When I started to see the pain that my grandfather had caused my father, I couldn’t help but sympathizing and having a tremendous feeling of compassion for him.”

You can cultivate forgiveness

Forgiveness can protect you against illnesses and diseases, says Loren Toussaint, a professor and psychologist at Luther College in Iowa. Loren also believes that you can learn to forgive, and many therapists use strategies to help their patients cultivate forgiveness.

What forgiveness feels like

Studies show that some people are more inclined to forgive than others. As a result, those people are more content with their lives and have fewer signs of depression, stress, hostility and rage. People who harbor resentment are more likely to be depressed and show symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome (www.hopkindsmedicine.org).

“A happy marriage is about three things: Memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes and a promise of never giving up on each other.” – Surabhi Surendra

Myth: Forgiveness requires an apology

Robert Brault said: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” While getting an apology from someone feels good, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you will get that apology, but it won’t necessarily sound and feel like you hoped it would. You can’t force someone to repent, which is the reason why your forgiveness can’t be dependent on the transgressor’s words or actions.

Real life story: “Our marriage survived an affair”

Real life story: “Our marriage survived an affair”

You keep fighting about the same things and, once again, you’re going to bed mad at each other. You think it’s just a phase and that every couple has its ups and downs, but then you find messages on his cellphone . . .

Whether you have been married for three months or 30 years, your marriage is never safe from the possibility of being wrecked by an extra-marital affair. Two couples tell their heart-breaking stories about infidelity. In both cases, the couples said that God saved and renewed their marriages.

“We both had misconceptions about marriage”

On paper, Laura (25) and Russel’s (28) marriage looked like a fairy tale. Shortly after getting married, they quickly realized that the idea of happily ever after was very different from the reality of marriage.

“Our wedding day was perfect and we had a fantastic honeymoon,” recalls Laura. They met each other through a mutual friend in February 2011 and a year later they were heading to the chapel. Laura’s friends and family were crazy about Russel.

“Initially I was a bit skeptical about Russel. I thought: How can such an attractive man be a good man?”

Laura’s mother encouraged her to give Russel a chance. “I gave him a chance and we developed a fantastic friendship and relationship. We were the couple that people would point to, saying: ‘Look how happy they are.’” The dynamics between them changed shortly after the honeymoon and things started to become unpleasant.

The couple moved to a new town, where Russel got a job as an electrical technician. Laura started working at a local high school.

“Both of us felt a lot of pressure to perform in our new jobs,” says Laura. They were not prepared for the big changes that would hit them as newlyweds.

“We battled to get onto the same page, especially regarding household tasks like who would do the washing and who would do the folding up,” she says. These seemingly small arguments would escalate into larger fights, and sometimes they just avoided the drama by fleeing to hang out with friends instead of spending time together. They started to drift apart, and they were not investing time in their faith or each other.

“It was upsetting to be unable to hold my husband at night, as we were often sleeping in separate rooms,” recalls Laura. Russel said he felt like he had failed as a husband because he was unable to make his wife happy. Laura’s friend, Rachel, started sending Russel messages to cheer him up and to find out how he was doing. Russel and Laura had been married for four months when Rachel started to send him messages.

Warning bells started to go off in Laura’s mind, but she reasoned that suspecting Rachel and Russel would be ridiculous. After a while, Russel admitted that he had feelings for Rachel but that he never acted on these feelings. This revelation destroyed Laura. After a lot of introspection and by recommitting to the relationship, Russel was able to win back Laura’s trust. Laura could see that she should also be blamed for the negative patterns that were damaging their relationship.

“While I didn’t realize it at the time, mainly because I had a victim mentality, Russel wasn’t the only one at fault. My selfishness also played a part in how everything panned out.”

Today, slightly more than three years later, Laura and Russel have a strong relationship without any signs of scars and wounds. “When God takes over, everything will heal,” says Laura.

“God says he will rebuild the walls of my marriage”

Sara’s (53) first marriage ended as a result of her husband’s infidelity. Her second marriage almost ended the same way when her current husband, TJ (46), had an extramarital affair.

The couple was getting ready to immigrate and Sara traveled alone to the country to prepare for their move. During this time, Sara noticed how TJ’s attitude towards her started to change. “Infidelity was already rearing its ugly head,” says Sara.

“When I noticed that my husband was attached to his cellphone and that he even took his phone with him to the bathroom, I knew something was up.” A flood of emotions washed over her. “Shock, rage, disappointment, sadness and rejection. Not again . . .”

Sara confronted TJ and although he initially denied the affair, text messages on his phone proved otherwise. Sara decided to kick TJ out, but unfortunately this decision led him straight into the arms of another woman.

Sara needed to clear her mind. She went to live with her brother, where she could recover. She filed for a divorce. “My husband sent me messages every day, telling me that he loves me and that he made a big mistake.”

She kept looking for answers from God and for His wisdom. One day during Bible study, the message arrived. “Zechariah 1:14-16 spoke to me. I had to go back to Jerusalem (which I see as a symbol of marriage) to rebuild the temple (to God, my marriage is sacred, like a temple). This is where my journey of healing and rebuilding began.”

It took Sara and TJ more than three years to rebuild their marriage, but today they are renewed people thanks to God. “The most important message that I want to get across, is to fight for your marriage and against attacks from Satan.”

Sara also did a lot of introspection and was able to recognize her role in their marital problems. “Rebuilding a marriage takes work. It’s a gradual process and even today, it requires ongoing work.”

What does a marriage therapist say?

Affairs are common and in some circles, it’s the norm, says marriage therapist Carien du Toit. “We often address differences in an aggressive way, instead of looking for win-win solutions.”

These approaches push partners away from each other. “At the end of the day, a third person comes in and fills the need of admiration and acceptance, while partners ignore their problems or continue fighting about the same old issues.”

The definition of what an affair entails also had to be rewritten as a result of modern technology. “A sexual encounter is the extreme definition of an extramarital affair, but intimate e-mails and text messages can be signs of an emotional affair, which can eventually lead to a physical relationship.”

An affair is almost always the result of another problem or a lot of problems between partners. “While there is never a good reason to have an affair, it’s vital that both partners acknowledge their role in the marriage’s dynamics,” says Carien.

It remains the responsibility of the partner who strayed to rebuild trust and recommit to the marriage. “It will take time for trust to be rebuilt. Commit to being totally transparent – turn off pass-code features on your phone and always be exactly where you said you will be. The one who crossed the line, owes it to his or her partner in order for trust to be rebuilt.”

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