Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Welcome back Faith.

Faith

Good Morning Lois.

Lois                         

You know, we are all the map, especially as we’ve been dealing with transitions. We have been going back and forth on things that are heavy and things that are lighter and this week I was absorbing as much beauty and sunshine and rain as possible in light of our podcast last week, which was on the impact of spring. And you know, I did, I got it. I needed this dose of freshness in my life.

Faith                    

Right. It makes such a difference when you have that hope kind of set before you that you know you’re entering into something that is going to offer something, a big bouquet, not only your flowers put up life itself.

Lois                        

Oh, I love that. That renewal. And we also need this dose of freshness and life because we’re going to be grappling with a very difficult subject and topic this week. So if you’re enjoying our podcasts, you know, would you share it with somebody that you know might enjoy? Just what we’re doing? And rate our podcast. It actually helps us. If you could go on whatever platform you have subscribed to us on and give us a rating, it would be wonderful so that we know better who’s listening and what you think of us.

Faith                     

Now. We would love that. It helps us just as Lois said. And it also gives us more direction too as to what some of the things that really inspire you.

Lois                       

So as we promised today is going to be a tough one. And it’s Episode 68. Transition: The Impact of an Affair.

Faith                     

This is tough. This is tough because if you’ve ever had someone betray you in an affair, you know the sting of the affair. If you have been the one who has had the affair, you know all the aftermath and the pain that you go through and you see others go through as a result.

Lois                       

So what is an affair? In www.verywellmind.com, Sherri Steinhoff writes, “an affair is a romantic and emotionally intense sexual or emotional relationship with someone other than your spouse or partner.” Generally affairs don’t last long, although there are exceptions and they occur between two people who are not married or otherwise committed to one another. Typically an affair is considered a betrayal of trust, so faith, that last statement, betrayal of trust, that seems to be at the core of what we’re going to be talking about today.

Faith                   

Because that betrayal and that trust that is broken. You’ve given your love, you’ve given your trust, you’ve, you’ve invested into this other person and suddenly that is broken because of the betrayal. Because it’s been assumed that what you had with them has been given to someone else. And that just rips the core of you apart because it feels like the ultimate rejection of you. You’ve rejected me to the very core and oftentimes that’s not even the issue, but it sure feels that way if you’re the receiver of the one who has been betrayed.

Lois                       

We did a podcast earlier this year on rejection and alienation and faith. Somebody wrote in specifically about that, that when she felt betrayed, this is exactly what she went through, that it was all, she couldn’t, didn’t see it coming, couldn’t believe it. It happened and it took everything out from underneath.

Faith                    

Right. It feels like a tsunami. It comes out of nowhere and it just does great destruction to how you think, to how you feel, to your heart, to your body, to your mind, everything. And the impact is huge.

Lois                      

And one of the other podcasts we did was on regrets. If there is ever a do over that I could have, it definitely would be for the affair that broke up my first marriage. I’m sharing this because a very wise person said to me, you know Lois, if you wanted to be with that other person, why didn’t you just end it? If this wasn’t working, why didn’t you just end it and then move on? Well, those were extremely wise words after the fact and words that I did not heat and the tsunami effect in my life lasted for many, many, many years as a result of that decision that I made, that of course as all of these things, when Sherry Steinhoff writes, it fell on all of those lines and it didn’t last and it caused a lot of damage because of the fact that there was this betrayal of trust. And it’s taken me a long time to regain that and with my children. Because you have to remember this doesn’t just impact the spouse or the partner that you have. It impacts your kids who – mine are adults now – and it also impacts your friends. Yes, it does. Who don’t know where to stand on this. Even if they think they support you or think they support a change – doing it this way, like my wise friend suggested was maybe could’ve been done better. Right. Amen to that.

Faith                   

Right, exactly. Yeah. When you’re in an affair, you believe that it’s just this isolated secret place. The reality is it’s about to have a ripple effect that goes and goes and goes and ripples in through your family, into your friends, into the extended family, into your extended friends. And it just doesn’t stop. And so it has a long lasting effect. But you’re not thinking that when it’s happening.

Lois                      

No. And by the way, if you are in this place right now where you are in an affair, a part of an affair, that you’ve broken off a relationship or you’re with someone and you’re having an affair and he or she is part of a relationship, just listen to this, not as a condemnation or a judgment. This is kind of like an unveiling of what’s going on, not just behind the scenes, but what happens in the aftermath for you or the other person to consider what you want to do in this step. But again, no judgment. I have been there and I wish I could change that. And I have still learned a lot even from that very harmful decision that I made. So we all learn, everything teaches us, right?

Faith                   

Yeah. And you have to learn what, what were the underlying factors because we think that it’s just this immense attraction to this person in the moment. That’s chemistry and the chemistry is there for real, but chemistry can be there with a lot of people in this world. The idea is what causes you to take that next step to do something about that chemistry?

Lois                        

Wow. What does? So before we explore whether or not you want to save your marriage, say you’ve been in a situation where you have deceived your spouse or your spouse or partner has deceived you. Let’s look at the impact of an affair. And Kathy Meyer has a great article, “The major effects of extramarital affairs.” I’m telling you, this is heavy reading for any of you want to jump in and stuff, but, but it’s very hard, but it’s good to know. It’s really good to know. Just be aware of everything that goes along with this. So the first thing that she suggests is the damage to self esteem as you talk about the impact of an affair.

Faith                    

Yes. That whole feeling of why wasn’t I enough? Why? Why is it me? Why would, why would you reject me? Is that my body? Is it something I did or said or the way I’ve behaved? Why didn’t you talk to me about it first? We take it on personally that it must be me and that’s not usually what’s going on. It’s not an affront against you as the person. It’s something that’s going on in the other person.

Lois                      

Exactly. I mean the chances are, and the likelihood is that it’s more about a void or an emptiness in your partner than it has to do with you. And the reason you couldn’t solve it is because it had to be solved in a secretive way, in a way that brought a different kind of energy that you can only get in those dark places.

Faith                    

And, and just the note to self that if you have heard if your spouse or significant other has said, well it’s because you haven’t been sexual with me. Just so you, an Fyi, that’s a cop out. It has nothing to do about it. Because if you have an intimate relationship with the person, if there is something going on sexually that isn’t working between the two of you and you really love each other, you’re going to talk about it. That’s right. You’re going to work it through. You’re going to, you’re going to talk to someone who’s a professional that can help you. You’re not going to go and have an affair and use that as an excuse. So again, it’s not about you.

Lois                      

So the second point that Kathy Meyer brings up in the impact of an affair, which we already discussed and Faith you talked on so beautifully, is the loss of trust. But sadly what happens when you lose trust is you also wonder if you’ll ever be able to trust anyone again. That’s really powerful because you think that this might be a universal decision that’s going to be handed down on you where it might be an individual situation with your spouse or partner of a void that can be healed. We don’t know that yet because you haven’t explored that yet because you probably not ready to even think about that yet.

Faith                 

We’re making that assumption that maybe the whole world is not trustworthy. And that’s because right now your heart has shattered. Everything inside is broken. It’s huge. The pain is so big inside, and the devastation is so great that it spills over to how we perceive, how we perceive other people, how we perceive the world. And we begin to believe, I don’t ever want to be hurt like that again. So I’m going to put up the guard, I’m going to put it up. And that’s, that’s it. Well, that’s one of the worst things you could ever do. You need to first of all, give yourself time to heal and then begin to take small steps towards trusting again.

Lois                       

And see with whom you can establish that trust. Because maybe it won’t be with this person immediately, right? But there will be somebody, you know, your security is shattered when an affair happens. I mean, the stuff that you thought was safe is no longer safe. What does this person know about me? What have you shared? What is going on? What other parts of my life are vulnerable now to being broken apart?

Faith                

No, absolutely. Yeah. It’s like that sacred space that you have with the person that you’re with suddenly has been shared. Well, almost like when you’ve had someone break into your home, they’ve ever had that experience and you’ve been robbed, you feel defiled. There’s like, oh my goodness, this is, my space has been invaded. Well, this happens emotionally and spiritually and physically to you. If you have had someone had an affair on you is the fact that yeah, you feel betrayed with this all the way through.

Lois                        

And your stability – it’s shaken. You’re shaking. It’s like, where’s the solid ground? When will I get grounded again? And I think one of the things that we have shared through all of these transitions is if your emotions are all over the map, that’s actually where they should be. Because where else could they be?

Faith                  

Right? Right. Exactly. What is really helpful is please get to somebody as quickly as possible that can hear you, that will listen to, that will cry with you, hold you. It can be a good friend, it can be a family member and if you don’t have that, then get to a therapist as quickly as possible so that you can pour out your heart, be angry, be hurt, cry, feel the feelings because that is one of the most healing agents you can do is to express all those emotions and have them validated.

Lois                        

And know that the impact of an affair will also result in ripple effects in your life. This is not something that just involves the two of you. If you are in a workspace and people know about it, if you are in a faith community of any sort, if you have family, most of us don’t live alone on an island, so there are other people who are there. Extended family, children. I mean this touches the lives of so many people that when you’re in it, you forget to see that this is going to have this, the shakedown and it will.

Faith                    

Yeah, and it’s not just the people, it’s your work ethics and just how you are moving about in life because you’re kind of in a zone of fantasy land. When you’re in an affair, it’s not reality. It’s a fantasy. You’re in it and so you’re trying to do work, but your head is in a fantasy. You’re going to have issues at work and you’re going to have issues at home, and you’re not going to be going to the games that to watch your kids play because you’re waiting for a phone call over here. It’s such a distraction. It just begins to pull you out of the norm, normalization of your life, how you’ve lived your life, and that’s just like, yeah, it’s going to have an effect on you in a lot of different ways.

Lois                      

So when an affair occurs, a marriage can be destroyed or, and here’s the flip side. Your marriage can have major improvements or your relationship if you’re not in a marriage and you have an affair. Affairs are one of the leading causes of divorce, and yet recovery is the challenge and it’s a big challenge, but you’ve seen it enough in your experience. I’ve certainly witnessed it – that the healing that can occur and the strengthening can change a relationship to be even better, right? If that’s the course, and it isn’t always the course.

Faith                    

Exactly and you have to make that decision. I think right off the bat, I mean there’s some people that are going, I cannot do this. I need to get away and that may be a permanent thing. It may be temporary, but the two of you, believe it or not, it’s the two of you that have to make this decision like what do we want to do? Do we want the breakup or do we want to use this and move towards something more? And there’s a lot of factors in that. You know, it can be family, it can be that you’ve been married for a long time and you really do love this person. You love each other. And that’s a key thing. If there’s some good foundational pieces in the relationship, it may not be the time to give up and maybe at the time to fight harder and to come back and let something new happen. Rather than, well, the old of what you had obviously has to die off and something fresh and new has to be built on.

Lois                      

In psychology today, Dr. Susan Heitler wrote this great piece on recovery from an affair. So this isn’t a mandate, but these are suggestions if you’re considering recovering because it is a huge, huge challenge. So the first thing she does is she says recovery for the deceiver requires a person to end the affair to understand what led to it and to tell the truth and answer your spouse’s questions with limits. So Faith helped me on this cause you were saying to me, yes, you don’t have to — be careful about the questions.

Faith                 

Because oftentimes the pain of the person who has been the receiver of this affair and has had felt the impact of it. They want to know details. They think if they know details that that’s going to help them feel better. It’s going to do so much more damage. And so details where it says to answer the spouse’s questions. And that’s usually what the person will do is bombard the other with, you know, where were you? How long has this been going on? When did it start? Did you tell this person that you love them? You know, those kinds of questions. And those are things that you should answer and but if it comes into the detail of what did you do, what kind of positions did you do with this person? Well, how were you involved sexually with this person? Was it better with them than it is with me? Those kinds of questions. Oh my goodness. I just really encourage the person who is the deceiver, don’t answer those. Because if you answer those, you have just painted the picture in your spouse’s or significant other’s mind that they can never get rid of. It’s there and you don’t want to do that. If you really truly love them and care about them, say, I’m not going to answer that. I’m not going to betray you that way. And use common sense and some wisdom in what it means to share the truth about what happened.

Lois                       

If you want as a spouse or a partner to have recovery. This doctor Susan Heitler recommends that the person has to heal from the break and that starts with the deceiver expressing compassion for the pain, accepting your betrayer’s, apologies, actually accepting them and then hearing what the betrayer or your partner, who’s deceived you has learned. Can you do that? And that’s probably the tough part. Can you sit there and if there is a discussion that you want to amend and to move forward, these are some steps. These aren’t all the steps. There’s plenty more you’ll probably have to work through. But if you know that none of these can be answered yes to, there’s probably a good indication that it might not work. If you can listen to this and go, maybe I could do that, maybe I could listen to this. Then there’s, there’s a possibility, right?

Faith                

You can hear the person’s apology and as long as they’re, they know how they have hurt you, which is so excellent. Does that they show compassion for how they have hurt you, not, you know, I’m sorry. You know, I’m sorry I hurt you. Well that doesn’t go anywhere. No, but if you can say, I really truly am sorry. I can see how this impacted you and I see what it did to you. And the suffering and the pain you’ve been through and I did that to you. That’s a whole different kind of kind of confession to that person. But here’s the deal about the apology, accepting it. Even if you can’t accept it in the moment. Say that. Say, I choose to move towards receiving your apology. I choose to move into forgiving you. I’m not there yet, but I choose it. I choose it and because it’s a process, sometimes it takes longer, but yes, you do want to believe and accept and then trust has to be earned. One thing I will tell somebody, when I’m working with couples where there’s been a betrayal of trust, I will say it is their job – the one who has actually been the deceiver – it’s your job to earn this person’s trust. And then I’ll say to that other person, but it’s your job to let them earn it, right? Because you have to allow that dialogue to happen.

Lois                        

And if you consistently beat the deceiver, you over the head with what happened, like, well, if I do this, you’re going to do this to me again. Then it’s clear that you haven’t even stepped into the potential for an apology to be accepted. So know that your words matter. And if you’re both on the same page for this to move forward, that’s beautiful. But if you’re not either side, you just, I loved how you said that, but either side can hold something against the other and then that’s a recipe for disaster. It sure is. Wow. Anyway, there are lots of resources. We’re going to include these as well. You mentioned something early on that when there is an affair, it’s usually because there’s a void and if people can remember that it’s not about them, but that it’s about a void that that person is trying to fill. Maybe that can ease some of the pain because it isn’t necessarily the worst thing that can happen in a relationship.

Faith                  

Yes. You’re looking for something that has not been deeply fulfilled within you and sometimes it can be a means of coverup. You know, like when we were talking about the addiction piece, where the pleasure point of the brain is we feel this immense amount of pleasure and we’re avoiding something. So what are we avoiding? What is it the thing, what does that pain that we haven’t wanted to look at? And this feels so much better. And so it takes time to unwrap all of this. If you do enter into restoration of the relationship, know that it’s going to be a journey because you really, it’s not just, Oh, it’s over and we’re okay and we’re going to be together and we’ll work it out over time. You need to get to the some roots of what happened here in both of us, not just the one who had the affair, but in both of us. And this is an opportunity for change, for transformation, for healing, and to see life in a whole different way.

 

Lois                       

And as we say in so many of our transition podcasts, lean on the people you trust and find someone to talk with so that you can move forward. I mean, doing anything in a vacuum by ourselves will only lead to our own questioning again and lashing out. So if there’s a way you can find a safe place with people that you care about, that you can continue this dialogue and listen where you need to listen and just observe and take in what you need to take because it’s a very painful time. But remember, for both of you, you’re on a precipice here and, and you get to choose what happens next.

Faith                

You want to bring it into the light. If you don’t, if you’re still hiding, then it’s not going to work. But if you’re willing to have it all exposed in the light, now you’re moving into some freedom.

Lois                     

And it’s a very, very brave decision, by the way, to step out of your comfort zone to decide whether you can work together in a relationship. But at the end of the day, it really is completely up to you.

Faith                    

Yes, it is. So facing the impact of an affair is devastating. And whether or not you’ll be able to heal this break is a decision that takes a lot of soul searching.

Lois                       

And whatever you decide, you don’t have to stay where you are right now because we can tell you whether the relationship is restored or it ends. You will heal and you’ll be stronger.

Faith                   

Please share this podcast with someone you know who might benefit from this discussion.

Lois                        

And join us next week for Transition: The impact of self-discipline.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.