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KP Astrology Case Studies-14: Extra Marital Affair
Fitzgibbons Marital infidelity is one of the most traumatic of all life experiences. However, it does not need to lead necessarily to separation or divorce. A healing process, which can be very challenging and painful, can occur through uncovering the emotional, character, marital and spiritual conflicts that contributed to the betrayal of one's spouse and the marital vows. The weaknesses in marital self-giving that are presented in chapters on this website are often identified as major factors and can be uncovered and resolved in the majority of marriages wounded by infidelity. Such a healing process requires a enormous strength and a loyalty to the sacrament of marriage, as well as a loyalty to the deep goodness that is still present in the offending spouse. John Paul II's advice to couples in conflict from the book he wrote on marital love as a Bishop, Love and Responsibility, is essential in the work of healing. We recommend couples put it in their cell phones and read it daily. One who truly loves does not then withdraw love, but loves all the more, loves in full consciousness of the other's shortcomings and faults, without in the least approving of them. The emotion which attaches to the value of the person is loyal," Love and Responsibility, n. Some modify the first two steps of AA and meditate, "I am powerless over this severe pain and turn it over to you, Lord. Origins of Marital Infidelity Today, the excessive use of internet pornography has increased the risk of virtual marital infidelity in which one spouse seeks happiness and sexual satisfaction through another person. The following marital conflicts contribute to a vulnerability to marital infidelity: Again, number of chapters on this website address the work of resolving the specific conflict that you may have identified. Prevalence of infidelity Research studies demonstrate that the majority of married couples are faithful and loyal. Marital infidelity with another person is not as common as some believe. However, a major factor in the growth in infidelity is the use of internet pornography. Prevalence and correlates in a national survey. J of Sex Research Sexual Practices in the United States. University of Chicago Press, Table 5. A highly regarded survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has found that 22 percent of men have had a sex partner other than their spouse while married, compared to 13 percent of women. The figures are an average of the years between and , Whisman M. Another study revealed an annual prevalence of infidelity was 2. In controlling for marital dissatisfaction and demographic variables, infidelity was predicted by greater neuroticism and lower religious faith, Whisman M. The Offending Spouse The initial response by offending spouse is extremely important to the work of healing the marriage. The offending spouse should not minimize the adultery or become defensive and try to blame the spouse for it. Catholic spouses who engage in adultery benefit from going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and seeking spiritual advice. However, if the victim spouses commits to a forgiveness process, obsessional thinking about past trauma decreases. Acute stress disorder in the victim spouse The offending spouse needs to understand the degree of emotional and psychological pain in their spouse because of their adultery. The victim spouse not infrequently develops a group of symptoms that constitute what is referred to as an acute stress disorder. These symptoms may include: An acute stress disorder can lead over time to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder in which one obsesses about the past betrayal, has great difficulty in trusting and at times feels intense betrayal anger. The proverb, "no wound worse than the wound of the heart," describes the pain. The betrayal "wound" is so severe that painful memories associated with profound sadness, mistrust, anxiety and intense anger can be recurrent under various types of stresses for many years or even decades. Some offended spouses in the healing journey discover that they also have intense betrayal experiences for their youth that have never been resolved and which can lead to overreactions in anger to the spouse and which can interfere with healing the marriage. Mistakes made after infidelity A number of serious mistakes can be made after marital infidelity including, Insistence upon immediate separation Failure to see the goodness in the offending spouse Refusal to identify each spouse's emotional or character weaknesses A need to blame one's spouse exclusively for the infidelity Failure to identify the extent of the infidelity Refusal to try to understand and forgive Insistence upon divorce Unwillingness to face family of origin conflicts Fear of correcting the offending spouse Failure to love the vocation of marriage Failure to obtain expert advice from those loyal to marriages The expectation that the offended spouse should "get over it" quickly The lack of understanding as to how difficult it is to heal the infidelity wound The failure to realize that faith is essential in re-establishing trust and the marital friendships. The four phases of healing The healing process includes first uncovering the extent and the causes of the infidelity, next making a decision about addressing what has been uncovered and third doing the hard work of resolving conflicts and anger and of building trust. The final phase is accepting the trauma and believing that some good can come from it. Uncovering phase In this phase it is important to identify the state of the marriage before the infidelity, particularly in regard to the ability of each spouse to give to the marital friendship, to romantic love and to betrothed love, which includes but is more than sexual intimacy. During this phase it can be helpful to complete checklists the evaluate self-giving, trust, selfishness, anger and parental legacies. The most common resistance we find in this phase is in men whose infidelity is the result of weak male confidence due to the a weak father-son attachment in the husband with his father. These men tend to misdirect their anger and deep unhappiness from their father relationship onto their wives. The confidence of many husbands may also have suffered because they did not experience success in team sports as boys and teenagers that, unfortunately, can leave a lasting wound in the male psyche. We ask spouses to complete the confidence checklist in the evaluate your marital friendship chapter. This checklist attempts to reveal the many problematic behaviors and emotional responses that develop in an unconscious attempt to escape from the pain of having a weak male or female identity. The second most common conflict we find here is in women with controlling tendencies and secondary disrespectful behaviors toward their husbands as a result of the failure to have a trusting relationship with their fathers. These wives also misdirect anger meant for their fathers at their husbands. The third conflict that is difficult to face is loneliness for comforting parental love which contributes to infidelity. Spousal love is very powerful and comforting but it cannot resolve the wounds of loneliness from childhood and adolescence. This childhood loneliness leads spouses to engage in numerous harmful behaviors in an unconscious attempt to escape from this intense pain including: Finally, selfishness, the major enemy of marital love, can be difficult to face but, it is a leading cause of marital infidelity. Also, the rage toward the unfaithful spouse can be so strong that what is desired is distance from the spouse rather than a commitment to work on the marriage. For Catholics the sacrament of reconciliation can be helpful in diminishing this intense anger. The decision to work on the healing of the infidelity trauma in the sad, angry and fearful victim spouse can be motivated by the desire to protect children from the trauma of separation and divorce, by a compassion for wounded child within the perpetrator, and by the belief that it is God's will to strengthen the marriage. Fortunately, most unfaithful spouses are open to try to understand and address their conflicts with the exception of those who are overly proud, selfish or controlling. During this phase of therapy we present our own positive views about the possibility of resolving the conflicts that cause infidelity. Also, we cite the work of Dr. Linda Waite on the benefits from persevering to resolve phases of marital unhappiness. Her research was based on analysis of data from the National Survey of Family and Households. It measured both personal and marital happiness of 5, married adults during the late s; or They were re-interviewed in the mid s. Some of the findings of the University of Chicago analysis were: Those spouses who separated were, on average, no happier than those who stayed married. Those spouses who separated and remarried were also no happier than those who stayed married. Waite stated, "Results like these suggest the benefits of divorce have been oversold. Also, there should be full disclosure of the entire history of the adulterous relationship including examining phone records and text messages. Then, the perpetrator should understand the depth of the wound to the marital covenant and request forgiveness of God and of the spouse. In addition there should be a strong commitment to self-knowledge, a willingness to change and to practice fidelity. Each spouse should be able to discuss any weaknesses in their personal lives or in their marital friendship. The offending spouse needs to be open to discuss the affair on a regular basis in order to resolve mistrust and anger symptoms in the victim. However, prudence is required in regard to amount of time discussing the affair. Anger resolution In this phase the first issue most often addressed is the sadness, mistrust and anger in the victim. When the process of understanding and forgiving the offending spouse, who is motivated to change, does not diminish the level of anger, this reaction is often the result of the fear of trusting and becoming vulnerable to the spouse again with an associated concern of further betrayal. Those with faith can be helped by meditating, "Lord take my anger and sadness and help me to grow in trust. They often recognize, too, they fail to address weaknesses within themselves or within the marriage such as a lack of balance or lack of healthy self-giving to the marital friendship. Also, the offended spouses can have sudden flashbacks to the emotional trauma as do those with posttraumatic stress disorders. At these times the betrayal anger can return with such a great intensity as though the marital betrayal had just occurred. Many spouses report that the only approach which is effective dealing with such anger attacks is spiritual forgiveness, that is, giving their justifiable anger to God. As they come to understand themselves more unfaithful spouses may discover strong resentment within them toward parents who spoiled them or were insensitive to them or toward a spouse who was controlling, emotionally distant or manipulative. Then they recognize that the process of forgiveness is essential in resolving this strong anger and in purifying the memories of the past. Building trust Marital infidelity severely damages a spouse's ability to trust. The restoration of trust is essential since it is the foundation for loving. One simply cannot be open to give and to receive love unless one feels safe with one's spouse. Understanding and forgiving the offending spouse not only diminishes anger but it also diminishes fear. However, it is not enough. The full restoration of trust is nothing short of miraculous. Addressing loneliness Marital loneliness can also play a role in infidelity. The major causes of this pain from the marital relationships are emotionally distant behaviors, lack of balance with failure to attend to the marital friendships, selfishness, mistrust and anger, controlling behaviors and a lack of faith. While most adults who struggle with significant loneliness and unhappiness tend to blame spouses, it is possible that a degree of marital loneliness can also arise from unresolved childhood sadness in relationships with parents, siblings or friends. In many marriages the loneliness that leads to vulnerability to infidelity arises from both marital stress and unresolved childhood loneliness. A sense of feeling isolated and alone develops and husbands, in particular can became involved in internet pornography and then may develop an affair with someone whom they met on the internet. Addressing family of origin sadness Unresolved childhood loneliness can be a significant source of unhappiness, irritability and criticism in married life, as well as in priesthood and in religious life. This emotional pain can lie dormant for many years of decades and then emerge later under various types of stresses. A major mistake many spouses make is the result of the belief that a loving, giving marital relationship should protect one from unhappiness and anger. Although spousal love is very powerful and comforting, it has limitations and cannot enter an earlier life period and resolve childhood or adolescent loneliness and sadness that is encapsulated by anger as a result of having an emotionally distant or angry father, mother or sibling. Spouses regularly become angry with their mate because of their sadness and look for ways to blame them for it. The lonely spouse's anger grows and trust diminishes. The loyal, faithful spouse then becomes the scapegoat for unresolved childhood anger that intensifies over time along with the sadness. He or she is no longer treated as a special gift from God and as one's best friend, but, instead, as an enemy who has inflicted great pain upon them.
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