Affairs and Apologies. When working with couples where one partner has betrayed the other with an ongoing affair the deceived partner (Hurt Partner) is looking for a sincere apology. The Affair Partner (the person who had the affair) often rushes through the process of healing with minimal expression of guilt or remorse. Frequently, they will make excuses, avoid discussing the events of the affair, hide relevant information or become defensive. A common complaint is, “I said I was sorry so many times. Why can’t you getting over it? Why can’t we just move on?” I emphasize: “I’m sorry” isn’t Affair Recovery and the words don’t mean as much as the behavior of actually doing the work.
A main reason they aren’t getting over it is because a sincere admission of their guilt is missing. Acknowledging guilt to a loved one is usually quite difficult, but is essential. In the middle stage of treatment (Insight Phase), my work as a Marriage Counselor in Affair Recovery is to encourage accountability. Accountability includes telling the truth and providing information about unknown essential facts. It also involves the Affair Partner showing Empathy for the Hurt Partner validating the pain and suffering being experienced by them.
The question, “Why did I choose to deceive you?” is crucial to answer. The answer to this question inevitably involves either an admission of guilt or a continuation of an evasive pattern. It will help both partners determine whether the deception was in or out of character for the Affair Partner. Insight from the Affair Partner is crucial as this question enables the Hurt Partner to know whether or not moving forward is possible.
Another outcome of this soul-searching is that it increases the Affair Partner’s level of differentiation (self-awareness). It allows the “guilty” partner to be pro-active in initiating repair attempts or acknowledging potentially stressful situations in the future.
An example would be, a couple is invited to a family wedding that was to take place in the hotel where the Affair Partner had frequented with his lover. Instead of waiting for his wife to make the connection, he initiates the following discussion:
“I know that being at this hotel might be hard for you. I am sorry that what I did left this black hole in our lives creating unnecessary pain for you. Is there anything that I can do to make going to this wedding easier for you?”
She replies, “You just did it. I appreciate your recognition of this potential trigger – and that you aren’t hiding from your guilt. I believe I can go and feel ok there with you.”
If you could relate to this and want to get over the devastation of your Marital Affair call me at (858) 735-1139 . I know I can help.