Infidelity Quickie #3: The “Surface Stroke” is Killing Me and My Trust
Learn from these real life infidelity coaching scenarios.
In the first section the person struggling with the marital infidelity summarizes the scenario or concern and what he/she would like to say to his/her cheating spouse.
I then outline some goals that help him/her break free from the affair.
The last and important section gets at shifting the focus away from the spouse/partner to him/her self. In other words, what does all this mean for the person on the receiving end of infidelity? After that mental shift (which is NOT easy for someone in the pain and turmoil of perhaps losing one’s spouse, family, and home) I, the coach, offer phrases that he/she can relay to his/her spouse in a way that speaks directly of his/her concern and has the best chance of being heard and getting positive results.
Section 1: The “offended spouse” says:
Trust has been broken and it will never be the same. I know that at some point he will earn my trust back but it will never be the same level. This whole infidelity experience has taught me to think about my needs, think of the ways that the relationship has been unfulfilling for me and asking for what I want. It helped me find out about boundaries and how to figure out which boundaries I needed to set up. I just defend my space more I guess. If I find out that he is having another affair, it would be easier for me to accept the truth and walk away, rebuild my life because I spent enough time on myself and figured out what I want and who and what my sources of support are.
I am interested in learning more about identifying and breaking the barriers that keep us from making an authentic and lasting connection. I think at the bottom of all barriers there is FEAR. How do we get over the fear to reach out and connect? My husband says I always have bad timing for these conversations. I feel very much like I am an invisible wife when we are together. We are just polite to each other. “Moving on” for him is to bury the past and forget his infidelity. I think it’s easier for the offender to bury the past.
I have to say, there was more passion and more sex between us during his infidelity because we really talked all the time about our feelings. Once he stopped the relationship, he avoids talking about his feelings and if I want to have this kind of intimacy with him, the door is “shut”. Sex is very blah because I feel invisible. It’s almost as if every move he makes to get close to me ( a hug, a kiss ) is very tentative, not really coming from a place of intimacy but it is more like a surface stroke. Why is he being so tentative and blah? I know I have too many questions but I need your help.
Section 2: Personal goals suggested by the coach:
Determine the pattern, the impasse, the barrier that precludes more intimacy.
Identify the fearful part of me.
Get to the bottom of “bad timing??”
Explore in detail the kind of infidelity that you faced to help determine strategy.
Section 3: What the affair means for the “offended spouse” and what he/she REALLY wants to say to his spouse/partner regarding his/her infidelity:
If the affair was “I don’t want to say no”” “I’m not sure I’m willing to live in a relationship where I struggle so much with being “invisible.?? I’m not sure when I will draw the line, but I’m almost certain it will be drawn, if I continue to feel the void.
If the affair was “I need to prove my desirability”” “It is difficult maintaining and building our intimacy, the way it seems. I struggle with that?? feeling ok about myself. I wonder if you do too?”
If the affair was “I want to be close to someone, but can’t stand intimacy”” “Wow! This has been a roller coaster ride. We move close, we move away. We seem to be pulling away now. I suppose this serves some purpose?”
If the affair was “My marriage made me do it”” “OK, What the #%@# is going on here? There’s a part of me that wants to spit nails. I do NOT want to live this way. I’m royally #$% off at how this is going! And, I would think you might be #$#%# off too!”
What is your situation? Describe your situation. Let it flow. Don’t hold back. Then, ask yourself, “What does this marital mean for ME?” What impact does his/her extramarital affair have on my feelings, thoughts and actions? Then rehearse approaching your spouse/partner with phrases that convey the meaning and impact of the infidelity for YOU.