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!
I’m writing this in the aftermath of the most recent terrorist attack in multiple locations of Paris, apparently the 289th attack of 2015. There’s no apt way to describe this scourge of hatred and violence perpetrated against innocent people all over the world. What stands out after each horrific incident however, is the heroism and altruism of first responders, and the humanity of people identifying with the trauma of violation and loss. The victor is love. What survivors of these attacks recount, is how, in the midst of the violence, when they didn’t think they’d survive, they focused on the enormity of love they had experienced in their lives, thinking they were saying goodbye to all the people who were precious to them.
I think the lesson in all this mayhem needs to be love – not only for your family and friends, but for all the people who have helped you, been kind to you, given you inspiration and support, or just made you laugh. If we could all give more energy each day to feeling and showing appreciation and love to the people around us we’d not only be physically healthier, but emotionally more robust, and spiritually more at peace and in harmony with all of life. If we didn’t wait for a catastrophic moment but instead made a daily habit of focusing on this gratitude and our common humanity, we’d be happier, more connected, and more loving as a species.
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.
I’m very excited to announce this upcoming BlogTalk Radio episode about Trauma Sensitive Yoga with Lisa Boldin, a graduate of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and specialist practitioner in this unique form of Yoga.
In this episode we’ll discuss the unique advantages of Trauma Sensitive Yoga for anyone who is struggling with anxiety, emotional stress, or trauma related to experiences such as sexual assault, military combat, or domestic violence.
Call in toll-free at 877-497-9046 to share comments or ask questions about this Yoga. Or, listen live streaming (or later to the recording) at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager where you will learn more about how and why this practice offers unique benefits for coping with PTSD. You won’t want to miss this show!
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
Don’t miss my next BTR episode, “Surviving and Thriving After Trauma With A Partner’s Support” airing tonight, 2/27 8:30 PM EST.
I’ll be co-hosting with Michele Rosenthal, PTSD specialist and author of the critically acclaimed PTSD recovery book, Before The World Intruded.
We’ll be discussing Michele’s personal journey through trauma, and focusing on the strategies she used to help her overcome PTSD. We’ll also be exploring reasonable expectations and appropriate roles for partners in this process.
Call in toll-free 877-497-9046 at 8:30 PM EST to just listen, or to join us on the air with questions or comments.
Hope you can join us!
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.
We’ve all been glued to our TV’s watching the devastation to lives and landscape after the tornado in Missouri. It’s been equally as amazing to see the resolve and resilience of the victims in their determination to rebuild their lives and their community! They do some things which I think are critical to psychological and physical reconstruction, and which we could all take as important examples for “moving on” after any trauma:
- They grieve their losses together.
- They value what’s most important from the wreckage.
- They celebrate what’s indestructible – the bonds with loved ones.
- They help each other to take the beginning steps of rebuilding.
- They share their stories.
- They ask for help.
Hats off to the people of Missouri for their model of courage, determination, and humanity in this crisis!
What a sad time this is for thousands of people who went about their business on an ordinary Sunday, and found themselves homeless, surrounded by death, and utter destruction later that evening! Even though few of us can begin to imagine the horror they endured, most of us can connect with the idea that life is fragile, and that nothing is a “given”.
The tragedy made me think about not only the heroism and resilience of the human spirit we all witness in these events, but also the sacred bonds we have with each other. As a therapist and coach, I work with people every day to help them actively cherish these bonds. I also ask myself if I too, have cherished my precious relationships, or taken them for granted lately?
I encourage anyone who loves someone, or many “someone’s”, to imagine that a tornado like the one in Missouri could be headed in your direction. Whom would you protect? What last minute bargain would you be making with the Universe or your own conception of God, regarding what you promise you’d do differently, given another chance? Would you love better? Would you be kinder? Would you tune in more? Would you stop to smell the roses? Then proceed to live your life more mindfully and open-heartedly “in the path of the tornado”.