Although tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, not everyone in a marriage will be celebrating. If you are in a marriage and have experienced infidelity or an affair, then you know how painful a close relationship can become. As the hurt spouse you have been robbed of trust, joy, self trust, your history as you’ve known it, a feeling of specialness, and most importantly, any secure sense of the future you had anticipated. Certainly, the romance and promise of Valentine’s Day has been shattered, at least for now.
If your spouse who has had an affair minimizes the circumstances and your response to it, trust that it is a function of their dread of consequences, / their entitlement, / their refusal to take responsibility for their behavior, and certainly their lack of empathy for the impact on you. Get support from a trusted friend, family member, group, and especially, a therapist. Whatever you do, DON’T buy into your spouse’s denial about the seriousness of the situation. Get help, and honor your experience of grief and betrayal as valid. Know that you or you and your spouse are probably ill equipped to go this alone!
Here are two terrific, must-read books I recommend to anyone who has or is currently going through this ordeal. One provides invaluable insights about the process, including the challenges and mandates for the “hurt spouse” as well as the “affair spouse.” The second book, about forgiveness, provides choices for how to move on, and vital repair tools for individuals and couples:
In this thirty minute episode I’ll co-host with Dr. Laura Louis, author of the popular book, “Marital Peace,” which is a valuable resource for supporting couples throughout the challenges of marriage.
Dr. Louis has specialized in helping distant couples heal after infidelity, and in the program discusses some of the ways she recommends rebuilding trust, rekindling intimacy and enhancing communication. Her therapeutic approach has been influenced through trainings in Brazil, Mexico, London and Haiti, as well as hundreds of transformative seminars all over the world.
Don’t miss this vital program if you and your spouse have endured or feel at risk for an affair! Learn some key tools to not only help avoid infidelity, but to restore trust, build forgiveness, and promote growth after an affair. You too can achieve marital peace after this traumatic development.
Call in live with questions or comments at 877-497-9046.
If you can’t make the live show you can listen to the podcast afterward at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager
One way or another, I hope you can join us!
Tune into my next 45 minute BlogTalk Radio episode “Living with Loss – A Conversation with Ashley Davis Bush” on Monday, January 18th at 7 PM. Ashley and I will discuss the process of grieving – the realities and the myths, as well as tools for coping, from her latest book, “Hope and Healing for Transcending Loss.”
When we lose someone, it’s easy to feel unmoored. We have to find a new rhythm to our days and new ways to connect to the ones we’ve lost. Ashley Davis Bush offers just that.
Ashley’s book is filled with small lifelines and glimpses of hope for coping with the death of a loved one. Included are daily meditations offering comfort and tools for how to move on, living with gratitude, compassion and meaning. In this BlogTalk Radio episode Ashley will share key points from this latest goldmine of a book.
Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW, is the internationally bestselling author of six self-help books, including the classic “Transcending Loss.” She is a compelling and wise presenter, having appeared on many television and radio shows.
Call 877-497-9046 on Monday, January 18th at 7PM EST to listen, make comments or ask questions. You’ll be glad you did!
If you or your spouse has been exposed as using the Ashley Madison site to seek an affair, stop and take a deep breath! (Apparently thousands of people have already flocked to lawyers to pull the trigger on impulsively decided divorces). Driven by the hurt and humiliation of public exposure and profound betrayal, as a discovering spouse you are understandably experiencing the first waves of trauma that this news usually brings. Vengeance and assuaging the broken trust through divorce may seem like the only solution to you at this point.
As the unfaithful spouse you are probably traumatized in different ways: what may have seemed like a discreet, compartmentalized adventure without victims now feels real in its damaging consequences. You are now either bathed in shame and fear, or furious that you can no longer “have your cake and eat it too.” However justified you may feel for your infidelity you know that your world is about to become unravelled. You are about to take the hit for everything wrong with the marriage, and cannot imagine ever being forgiven. If you stay married you imagine a lifetime in the “doghouse.” Whichever end you’re on, the impulse on both sides is often to give up and get a divorce, convinced that healing and reconciliation would be impossible.
As a couples therapist who, for many years has worked with thousands of couples reeling from infidelity, I have a few strong pieces of advice:
- Slow down!
- Take some deep breaths!
- Don’t make any rash decisions now!
- Don’t impulsively file for divorce!
Here are some things you may NOT be aware of:
- Many marriages can not only be saved, but strengthened after the trauma of infidelity. It requires a lot of determination, hard work, vision, and a good couples therapist the spouses both trust.
- Many couples who impulsively divorce deeply regret that decision later on.
- Children are often the biggest victims, especially in a contentious divorce.
- If you don’t know what direction to take regarding your damaged marriage there is an alternative to couples therapy called Discernment Counseling. This is a brief treatment designed for couples where one spouse is leaning toward a divorce and the other wants to stay married. It is not geared toward tools and skills for repair, but instead focuses on helping partners make a decision about a direction for the marriage. Only trained Discernment Counselors can provide this service.
- There are terrific books and support groups for couples wrestling with infidelity.
- If you do decide to get a divorce you can have a healing, constructive process through Collaborative Law. Divorce doesn’t have to be an impoverishing dog fight.
- There may be hope. There is help.
Anyone in the greater Boston area wanting more information, feel free to contact me at The Couples Center PLLC, in Portsmouth, NH: 603-431-7131.
Don’t miss my next BlogTalk Radio episode tonight about the subject of dealing with life when things fall apart. We’ve all had the experience at times of dealing with crises which create a sense of chaos and uncertainty – maybe the loss of a loved one, or a debilitating health issue, or the loss of a job or business. It always feels horrible and destabilizing, and often creates a story of victimhood or bitterness for us. But the fact is that misery is just another part of life – it inevitably comes with the joy, relief, and triumph that are also part of our story.
Tune into this half hour episode tonight and join the discussion or just listen in, and hear about some attitudes and behavioral tools which may help you to accept some of these hardships as part of being human, and move through these experiences with more wisdom and perspective. Call toll-free 877-497-9046, or if the lines are busy call 760-542-4114. I hope you can join me! If you can’t make the live show, listen to it online at your convenience by going to the web player on my website, www.SusanLager.com or at www.BlogTalkRadio/SusanLager.com
Unbelievably, we’ve already arrived at the last week before Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Here in New Hampshire, parents are sending their kids off to school this week! Mercifully, in Maine, where I live, nobody goes back to school until after Labor Day, but even then, everyone groans about letting go of the long, langorous days of summer. (Except parents who are sick of their kids).
I’ve had a terrific summer with boating, hiking (light), swimming in the ocean and lakes, barbecues, reading, friends, family, and some wonderful long weekends away at lovely new places. I’ve also taken somewhat of a break from the internet to be outside more, doing active things. So, I can’t complain about it all coming to an end soon, as we in New England enter the Arctic Freeze Winter for the next seven or so months.
If you’re feeling blue about the transition, I’d encourage you to think of it this way: Would summer be as special to you if it were all year round? If you think “Yes!” then you should move to Florida or the Carribbean! If you thought “No way!” then savor what you’ve experienced this past summer. If you didn’t experience much, then begin making a list of the things you will commit to doing next summer, so you don’t continue the “regret cycle.” (You might also need some new friends who get you out more).
Another thing you can do is to anticipate all the delightful things about the Fall and Winter. Look forward to more “tuck in” time with more opportunities for indoor activities and more reflection. Won’t it be nice to not feel pressure to be outside so much doing fabulous things? If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (depression related to lower levels of light), do the therapeutic “light therapy.” Anticipate the beauty of the changed color palette outdoors with all the invigorating things you can do outside if you’re dressed properly. Look forward to Fall and Winter rituals and holidays. And of course, you can also look forward to next summer. It will be here before you know it….
Here we are, amazingly in September, when just yesterday it was the beginning of June! Where did the time go? I think most (normal) people feel a twang of sadness at this time of year, saying goodbye to the sweet, long days of summer, when you don’t have to wear socks or coats, or worry about the cold, and the snow.
But in New England, it’s another thing entirely. People here grieve the end of the carefree warmth and sunshine. Typical conversations focus on charming things like: When are you getting a generator? Do you have a decent snowblower? Did you get a roof rake yet? Does that new car you bought have 4 wheel drive? Have you winterized your shrubs? Did you bring in the air conditioners? How’s your winter coat? Did you paint the side of the house yet? Have you raked all the leaves? Did you drain your septic while the ground is unfrozen? Do you have good boots? How are your knees doing? (You’ll need them).
The list of “to do’s” goes on and on, as New Englanders grieve and prepare for:
– piles of snow
– cabin fever
– frigid temperatures
– dark mornings
– dark evenings
– slipping and sliding
– black ice accidents
– gaining weight, etc., etc…………
I call it New England Seasonal Affective Disorder, something unique to us in our little corner of the globe. We adore our measly little summers. We love our glorious Fall, but whine incessantly about winter coming. Then when winter is actually here, we marvel at its beauty while we ski, ice skate and snowshoe, or sit by our blazing fires reading books, talking to our spouses, playing instruments, cooking, doing projects. Ah, winter……
The irony is that only a fraction of us New Englanders would trade it all in for a condo in a gated community in Florida. Okay to visit, but no thanks. We’ll stick with our ice and snow, and our seasonal schizophrenia, because we’re tough, and besides, it’s so beautiful here!
Hang in there, (the days get longer again after December 21st!)
For anyone who missed my 2/22/12 BlogTalk Radio show “Growing Through Grief” with Ashley Davis Bush, psychotherapist, grief expert, and author of “Transcending Loss” and “Shortcuts to Inner Peace,” I would STRONGLY recommend that you tune into the recorded show by going to the site:www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager. We had a record number of live listeners and callers because the subject was so compelling! We talked about how grievers can transcend loss, what the challenges are, and journey generally looks like. Callers shared their stories of loss and struggle, and Ashley helped them look at realistic expectations for the process, as well as some tools for dealing with significant losses, and getting to some meaning-making through it.
There are times when I wonder why I go to the trouble of dealing with such a time-consuming, challenging endeavor outside my day job, but not this time. I think anyone who has wrestled with grief and loss, (even if it’s been about a deceased pet), will benefit from this episode. Trust me on this one.
PS. EXCITING NEWS! You can finally purchase original articles about various relationship issues on my website! The store is open for business at long last! Go to the “Products” page of this site. You’ll find useful tools for all kinds of relationship situations and dilemmas.
Here’s some exciting news!
On Wednesday, February 22nd at 8:30 PM EST, my next BlogTalk Radio show, “Growing Through Grief”, will feature Ashley Davis Bush LCSW, psychotherapist and author of the best-selling books, “Transcending Loss”, and “Shortcuts To Inner Peace.”
We’ll be dealing with the issue of grief, and how it can be a springboard for healthy growth. This show is a must for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one, even the loss of a beloved pet. Bush, an expert in this arena, will shed light on the issue of healthy vs. unhealthy grieving, tools for meaning-making, and the appropriate role for partners around the loss.
Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to listen in, or to join us live on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make it then, listen to the recorded show at your convenience by going to: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager
I’m sure it will be an enlightening episode.
For the past few weeks I’ve met with clients experiencing profound dread and sadness about the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11. What has compounded it has been the onslaught of terrible news about extreme flooding in the Northeast, wildfires and widespread loss of homes in Texas, the tragic plane crash in Russia, the Seven Eleven slaughter, the rising suicide rate in Japan, and many, many other reports of horrific events and developments.
In the case of the 9/11 anniversary, we can at least take solace in the solidarity of national grieving and memorials. We validate each other around the pain and loss. Together we prepare for the “anniversary effect” – revisiting the traumatic images and memories imprinted in our brains. We unite in the healing process. We try to make sense of what happened.
Unfortunately, we’re left to our own defenses around the other daily, tragic events. Clients and friends say they feel helpless, alone, and increasingly anxious in an unsafe world.
There is no magic formula for dealing with all this. Even people of deep religious faith feel profoundly tested in the face of such daily tragedy. What helps me is to surround myself with love, to remind myself of the essential goodness of people, and the joys of life. I also focus on the small things I can do, to mitigate against feelings of helplessness regarding all the trauma. Going into meaningful action, being present in the grace of the moment, and making heartfelt connections, are my medicines for staying sturdy in such turbulent times. But it’s also helpful to honor the grief and sadness, and sometimes just cry.