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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Fidelity, Infidelity, Loyalty, Luck

Uploaded: Jan 27, 2014
I just read "Vow," by Wendy Plump, in which she writes about her own and her x-husband's infidelity; the benefits and the costs she found.

To have a marriage of fidelity, we have to employ loyalty, to stay out of potentially dangerous situations, to keep putting more into our marriage, to keep the windows and doors shut as Mira Kirshenbaum, writes in her book, When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships. And by all means, know that alcohol is a hugely dangerous inflammatory bomb.

As Stephen wrote on Couple's Net, he remembers how lucky he is to be married to Nancy, and presumably, acts within and without her presence, from that place of knowing just how lucky he is.

Plump writes about losing the passion in her marriage, about the allure of the newness of falling in love. We can fall in love with our mate, every day. We can look, see, listen and know her, every day. We can touch, affirm, and give to him, every day. It is a choice.

We can get lost in the daily rhythms of groceries, kids, work, laundry (oh yes, and devices). Or we can be in it together.

It's tricky because the hormones and chemicals that get going when we are allured are real hormones and chemicals flowing through our brain and body. They always subside. But they are addictive, as are alcohol, drugs, and other behaviors that trigger the reward system in our brain.

Mature love is different, and with effort and loving care, passionate and comforting, both.

Fidelity and loyalty happen in the place of conscious competence (from the Four Stages of Competency: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence). We have to pay attention to what (and who) is around us, and choose our partner – again, today.

Our human brain is wired for complication. It is up to us to slow down and get our left frontal cortex on line so we can make informed decisions. Most people really do want to be happily married. Most people really do not want to blow up their family.

Be sure you spend time with people who are friends of your marriage. It's easy to hang out with those who will vicariously live the thrill of an affair through you while he goes home to a safe, loving home.

Keep talking with your spouse about your day, your week, your life. If you find yourself talking to someone else about things you are not talking to your mate about, or are hiding who you're talking (or drinking) with, stop now, and go home and put more into your relationship.

Monogamy ultimately is a commitment to one's self. Loyalty and integrity are what we do when no one is watching or will know.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by laura, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 3, 2014 at 1:45 am

It's also important for the couple (and specifically the betraying spouse) to understand WHY affairs happen. As Peggy Vaughn, a 30-yr leader in the field of infidelity and healing, points out, affairs happen from an interplay of three forces: 1) forces outside the marriage pulling the person toward the affair, 2) forces inside the marriage pushing the person, 3) societal attitudes toward relationships and sexuality. Ultimately, in order to heal and recover, the betrayed spouse will come to understand that the affair was a CHOICE made by their spouse, and a choice in response to his/her internal emotional issues that have been unaddressed: infidelity is the classic escape. Affairs are NOT the fault of the marriage per se: infidelity occurs even in good marriages, research shows clearly.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Feb 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Laura, thank you for asking these important questions and making observations.

One author lists about 15 reasons why someone might have an affair. To me, it boils down to one: we are not connected securely.

It is useful to know, however, if the affair-having person is trying to end the marriage, or to revive it, or what is behind it. The hard work of repair has to be done no matter what.



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