So often I am told about infidelities, hurts and disappointments between couples and then asked whether the offenders should be given another chance.
I think the question is often asked because the offender has felt some remorse for the misdeed and they, both in the couple, are hoping that this is enough to get them back on track. The question is also generally asked following a statement from the injured party confirming a continuing love for the person despite what they have done.
The sad thing is that remorse in and of itself is rarely sufficient to change a person’s behaviour. This is because if the underlying need or belief hasn’t changed then the behaviour may not either.
Let me see if I can make this clearer.
From my experience a typical scenario goes like this. The person who has more invested in the relationship will accept the others apology welcoming them back into the relationship without any requirement. Sadly, while things might be good for a period of time, what most often happens is that the person will likely offend again as nothing has really been learned or really has changed. There may not even have been any real conversation about what happened let alone why it happened.
And here’s another common scenario. There has been an infidelity and the relationship has broken down completely with the couple separating. The person who committed the indiscretion now feels free to enter into a relationship with the party with whom they had the affair who happily takes the person in believing most likely that all manner of wrongs from the other’s partner is the reason for the infidelity. They never even contemplate that the issue may actually have been with the offender and that likely nothing was actually learned to ensure that the person would not digress again.
What often ends up happening is that this couple finds themselves in exactly the same place as the previous relationship and so once again the offender strays from the marriage to attempt to find what is still missing from their lives in the arms of someone else.
What really needs to happen in these circumstances is that each party takes some time to try to figure out why the behaviour happened in the first place. Was it because some need was not being met or that there is actually a mismatch in the things that each party holds valuable about themselves, their spouses and their marriage.
So the way forward is firstly to communicate with each other openly and honestly about what is going on for each of them. They also need to discuss what they feel and think about their relationship and their part in it. Finally, and maybe this needs the assistance of a couples therapist, they need to share with each other what is really important to each of them about being in a relationship and to discover whether there is a match in those values.
If there is a match then the likelihood of them succeeding into the future is reasonably assured.
If there is no match then they need to determine whether they are willing to live with this and the consequences or whether they can save themselves and each other a lot of heartache by acknowledging those differences and separating from each other immediately.
Of course this course of discovery would be better done prior to entering into the relationship in the first place. And this is where preparation for marriage counselling is most valuable; simply ensuring your compatibility prior to saying “I do!”
So until next time – Relate with Love