Sunday, October 26, 2008

Infidelity Damages Family Relationships

My husband’s parents know that I had an affair and they are very angry with me. I truly do not think that it is any of their business and I cannot understand why they are holding it against me since my husband and I are working things out and want to stay together. Should we just ignore it and act as if nothing had happened or should I avoid going to family gatherings since it seems to make them so upset? What is the best way to handle this?

This is truly a dilemma and there is no “right” answer. The way to handle this situation involves lots of thinking on your part and talking between you and your husband. Some of the questions to ask are:

· How important is it to me that I have a good relationship with my in-laws?
· How important is it to my spouse that I have a good relationship with them?
· How does this affect my relationship with my own children and our sense of a larger family?
· How would it affect my relationship with my husband if I did find a time to talk with his parents and apologize for hurting their son? After all, most likely they feel some betrayal and anger because I hurt their child.
· What affect would it have on me, and on my feelings about myself, if I did have this discussion with his parents, even if they have a hard time forgiving me?

These are not easy questions to answer and really are not the most important things to think about in the beginning. After several weeks, when you and your husband are calmer and a little more peaceful, then begin to think and talk about this.

Steve and Lisa struggled with just this problem. Lisa felt very close to her mother-in-law. Helen really was a better mother to Lisa than her own mother and when Helen found out what Lisa had done, she was initially very angry and then shut down and avoided her. Lisa finally worked up the courage to call Helen and asked her just to listen for a few minutes.

Lisa was able to talk about her own mistakes without sharing any of the problems in the marriage or placing any of the blame on Steve. She told Helen that she was not asking for immediate forgiveness but invited her to just think about it. She told her that she loved her very much and was terribly sorry that she had hurt her son and also his family.

Later that week, Helen stopped by to bring some things for the children and she and Lisa were able to hug and cry together. It still took several months for the two women to feel that the rupture had been healed; however, Helen respected Lisa’s courage and maturity to acknowledge and take full responsibility for her mistake. She also saw that Lisa and Steve worked hard to put the pieces of the marriage back together. Helen now says that she holds a great deal of respect for her daughter-in-law and believes that their relationship was able to deepen because of, or in spite of, this experience.

Tip of the Week of October 27, 2008

Marriages need frequent tune-ups. If kept on autopilot too long, they will run out of steam.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tip of the Week of October 20, 2008

Life presents many challenges and struggles. Some people seem to experience far more than their fair share. Those who survive and thrive find ways to meet those challenges and changes and come out better rather than bitter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Older Couples Report Higher Satisfaction In Their Marriage

Recent research on brain chemistry shows that our brains change as we age. The older that we get, the less we notice the negative things in our lives and in our spouse and so, older couples report a higher level of happiness in their marriage.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scanned brains of young people, middle-aged and old as they viewed both positive and negative scenes. The older brains showed less reaction to negative and stronger reaction to positive scenes. Younger brains showed more activity when viewing negative scenes and those in their middle ages responded in a more balanced way.

"As people get older, they seem to naturally look at the world through positivity and be willing to accept things that when we're young we would find disturbing and vexing," said Dr. John Gabrieli, a professor of cognitive neuroscience and one of the researchers in the study. This helps older couples see problems or bad habits in a more positive light or just let go of them rather than holding on and allowing them to color their feelings about each other.

We met John and Mary on a scuba trip off the island of Tortola. Both were in their middle 70’s and still diving. On every dive trip, they would hold hands throughout the dive, pointing out interesting things to each other so that the could share their stories when they returned to the boat. We asked them what made their 50+ year marriage seem so good to those of us observing. They acknowledged some tough times over the years but had made a decision to overlook the small things and only focus and celebrate the good in each other and in their relationship. They agreed that it got easier as they got older … and their memory of old hurts and troubles faded while their friendship deepened.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tip of the Week of October 13, 2008

Give what you want to receive. Speak in the way that you want to be spoken to. Treat your partner in the way that you want to be treated.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our Thoughts About Saving Marriages

There is a lot of discussion among marriage counselors about the best way to work with couples. The question that is posed is “Is it better to try to save a marriage, except in cases of abuse or serious problems, or to help the couple to make that decision on their own?”

Certainly there are two sides to this discussion and it is important that therapists clarify for themselves and their clients, their answer to the question. While we certainly believe that each person in a marriage must make his or her own decision, we also believe that we want to do whatever we can to help couples work through problems in their relationship and save their marriage.

Too many people give up far too quickly. Too many couples let problems go on for too long and lose positive feelings about each other. Too many husbands and wives feel so hurt, betrayed or angry that they do not allow themselves to open up to the possibility that wounds can heal, spouses can and do change and forgiveness can happen. Many also find that they are able to fall back in love with their spouse after time and hard work.