I recently received a comment on a post I wrote about building trust. This lady writes about her worries about her partners affair. She now struggles to trust her partner and things are getting worse. I am not aware of the total story, however what this lady is going through is very common and so I wanted to share my thoughts based on her words.
I have been with my fiancÃ© for 14 years now.Â 4 years ago he had an emotional affair.Â We decided to try and rebuild our relationship as we both accepted that we had made little effort in the preceding months.Â However since then I have found it almost impossible to trust him again.
He continues to keep secrets from me and these secrets always involve a text “friendship” with a younger woman.Â I have frequently told him how this makes me feel (as this is how the affair started) but he is adamant that he has done nothing wrong; my view is that if there was nothing to these texts he wouldn’t feel the need to delete all evidence from his phone.
He regularly promises to stop texting these women but it rarely lasts and I have started obsessively checking his phone and phone bills again.Â I know my behaviour doesn’t help but I was completely taken by surprise when he cheated on me and I can’t help but think that the only way to avoid that sucker punch again is to be vigilant.
Lately our relationship has started to deteriorate significantly, our sex-life is non-existent because the lack of trust and ever increasing frustration and anger I feel at these continuous lies gets in the way.Â Recently things have come to a head, neither of us is happy although we love each other very much.Â I just feel worn out and want to stop feeling the way
I do – even if that means ending the relationship.Â I simply cannot contemplate feeling this way for the rest of my life. The thought of being without him makes me feel ill, I really don’t think I could love anyone else as much but I’m at the end of my tether and just don’t feel strong enough to really fight for our relationship.
This is my response
Of course I only have one side of the story and so my response maybe a little slanted.
My first impressionÂ is the amount of fear that is driving you both. The fears you are both experiencing are so powerful, that they will not allow you both to be who you really are. You have both fallen in love with the real versions of each other, but your fears are creating behaviours that are destroying the relationship.
I know the affair is a painful and terrible experience, but it is a symptom of a deeper problem that needs to be solved if you want the relationship to survive.
You know the relationship is wrong as it is, but something is stopping you getting past a block you have both created. This is why you are still together living in this painful place.
This means the relationship becomes stuck and in your case for 14 years. Afraid to commit together and now too afraid to leave.
Something has to break the cycle of fear to remove your pain to give the relationship a chance. The fear is created because the needs of the individual(s) in the relationship were not being met. Or one or both of you believed that your needs in the future would not be met by this relationship.
Either way there is a belief in your relationship that fears it would not make one or both of you happy.
Understanding each other needs and beliefs is critical to you both at this point becauseâ€¦
These constant fears have driven you both to start to resent each other and so the relationship starts to suffer. You admit you both put little effort into the relationship and so it started to die. Any relationship that stop growing will start dieing and so the result in this case has been an affair.
For him his needs have not been met in the relationship and so too afraid to leave, he looks to have his needs met outside of the relationship. If the needs of any relationship are not met then some kind of trouble is likely, an affair is just one behaviour that can result.
You will also have deeper needs which will be met in other ways other than through the relationship. You may be connecting or looking for love from family, friends or children.
How ever you are both getting your needs met if they are not with each other then the trust will be going or gone between you.
When the affair was discovered you were too afraid to end the relationship and so you have no choice, but to accept the affair and are very likely to search for what you did wrong to make the affair possible.
Because none of the fears and worries have been removed from the relationship he has started to resort back to his old pattern of seeking the good feelings he gets when he is with other women.
He knows this hurts his you, but he wonâ€™t stop because he wants to feel good, and he has learnt to show youÂ a lack of respect over time and now this is acceptable to him. Fearing a split you will not give him an ultimatum and so you are left with complaining and you know this drives him further away from you.
By accepting his new behaviours and keeping him in your relationship, you are teaching him that his behaviours are OK, so he has no reason to change what he is doing. At the moment his feeling are the opposite, it is more painful to him to stop seeing these women so he will defend his right by saying that nothing is going on.
So on one level you feel that you should trust him, but your fears of his affair have driven you to check up on him. Your life is becoming consumed with all thatâ€™s wrong and you are becoming understandably exhausted.
This is clearly no life for you both.
And as soon as the pain for either one of you becomes greater than the fear of leaving, then one of you will leave the relationship.
My question is this: I wonder what this relationship would look like without the fears. This you say you love each other and I believe you.
You have just not found away to meet each other needs and this is whatâ€™s driving your fears for the future.
When you can find away to meet each others needs on all levels, he will no longer want to be near other women and you will discover how to rebuild your trust and get you passion back.
So the answer is, understand the drivers behind your fears. Understand both your critical needs and make meeting them your lifeâ€™s mission.
Then you will gain respect back for yourself and live a future that is happy and fear free.
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