Couples often come to a stage in their relationship where things no longer go so smoothly and they start asking questions about their future. This is a normal stage of development for all relationships. And rather than shying away from it you would do better to take a close look at where you are in your relationship and to notice if there is something you need to be paying attention to.
This would ensure your relationship continues into the future in a healthy way rather than taking it down a path of self destruct.
Remember this: where you put your thoughts is most likely how your relationship will respond.
Sometimes the difficulty you find your selves in leads you to question whether your partner is having an affair. The truth is sometimes they are but rather than seeing an affair as a symptom of a relationship in trouble it is seen as the cause of the trouble.
Let me also clarify here the meaning of the term ‘cheating’.
Most often we immediately think of cheating as one or both parties having an affair outside of the marriage. My definition of cheating is really when anything outside of the relationship, eg work or personal pursuits, takes precedence over the relationship to the detriment of the relationship.
Often by the time the couple enters counselling the damage has already become irreparable due to the accusations and recriminations that have been shot at each other. Often one party will admit their guilt either to relieve themselves of it, or simply to escape the torment. The sad thing here is that generally a confession rarely gets a resolution and most often just creates more anguish.
If you have your suspicions about your partner, you probably already realize that the relationship is in trouble but you also need to be ready for a revelation that might actually put an end to the relationship.
If you suspect that your partner is cheating don’t match their deceitfulness with your own by checking out their credit card expenses and/or their phone accounts. You might find answers but the way you have done so makes you no better than them.
The only way forward here is to ask the question outright and trust that you will know from their answer what the truth is. And while you may be able to investigate on your own to find your answer you should make sure that before you begin your investigation, and certainly before you ask the question outright, you prepare yourself for the answers you may receive.
So if such a couple presents to me in counselling the starting point of therapy is not about discovering the truth of an affair but the truth about their love and commitment of each other.
It may be that an affair, if it exists, will need to be discussed but not until both parties are ready to deal with what it means and how they want to deal with it. This really may be no different to managing a client who has experienced abuse in their past.
Sometimes it is necessary to know how to manage it and what you will do with the information before you even attempt to expose the client to the details of the abuse. If you simply present the client with the abuse up front it may actually only traumatise them further rather than giving them a solution.
Of course I’m not saying here that you should overlook the possibility of an affair but it needs to be looked at in perspective. That is, it needs to be viewed against the backdrop of your whole relationship and against whatever else is going on in the relationship.
What this all boils down to is this: get really clear about whether you actually have a relationship because only then can you figure out what you need to do about any cheating that might be happening.
So until next time – Relate with Love