The Wrongs of a Retaliation Affair Why answering an affair with one of your own is not the best solution. BY PATTY BRISBEN
Two affairs do not take away the pain of being cheated on, nor does it offer any helpful insight.
“ Seeking out an affair or a new relationship strictly for the sexual novelty is typically a quick fix and only puts a band-aid on the situation.”
I was having lunch with a friend the other day and she confided in me that after 11 years of marriage she was considering having an affair. They have three beautiful children together, but she felt that over the past five years their sex life had run dry and they felt more like roommates. She also disclosed that he had a sexual affair with another woman, which she had tried to forget but it left her in emotional turmoil. "Do you think I should look outside the marriage? Should we just stay together for the children?" she asked me sullenly.
Working with women for more than 25 years, I have heard many stories similar to this. However, if you take a look at the basis of my company, Pure Romance, you’ll see that we are strong advocates of enhancing romance and intimacy within your relationship. It’s not easy, but with both partners committed to working at it, it is possible. Often times, people resort to affairs because of low self-esteem; it feels good to the person to have that attention. In the case of my friend, her husband had made a grave mistake, but for her to have an affair is misguided thinking that two wrongs will make it right.
When I asked her what her prime motivation was, she said, "I feel like this other woman got a piece of something that belonged to me." It was obvious that she was still dealing with a great deal of pain.
One of the things I told her to do is ultimately address the issue of his affair and decide if this is something she can work through eventually. There was a part of her that wanted to know what it was like for her husband and what his motivations were through having her own affair. The unfortunate part is that even if she did this, she would more than likely discover that she would gain nothing from it and would just add more to the confusion.
If you find yourself in a similar situation and truly want to make your relationship work, I strongly suggest counseling. You can start as a couple or alone, but even if you speak with a professional by yourself at first, he or she still has to be a part of the process and completely present as you learn to move on from this betrayal. Both partners have to be committed to rebuilding that trust and also make a promise on both sides to 'step up their game.' Being able to address the pain with him and let him know exactly how his actions and dishonesty have affected you is essential to forgiving this infidelity. The most difficult part for many is truly making a commitment to let go of the past if you really have decided to forgive. It won’t happen overnight, but it can happen.
Becoming More Than Roommates
My friend also felt that she and her husband had become platonic roommates over the years. This didn’t surprise me as it's not uncommon for sex to become more comfortable or routine over time, however, to assume that this means it can never be pleasurable again is a mistake. If both partners communicate openly and honestly about their desire to try new things and explore their intimate life, this is a wonderful first step. Seeking out an affair or a new relationship strictly for the sexual novelty is typically a quick fix and only puts a band-aid on the situation.
Focus on the positives of your marriage and the direction you want it to grow and be sure that you are spending quality time with one another alone and with your children as a family. Also, one thing many women find is that making small changes in your own life to feel good and sexy can have a domino effect in their relationship. Whether it’s buying that piece of lingerie you wouldn’t have worn since his courting days or pampering yourself in a way that makes you feel beautiful and sensual—this is a great way to "bring the sexy back" into your life and marriage.
Finally, I am a firm believer that if you are very unhappy and your only reason for staying together is the children, you are doing them an injustice. Functioning in a happy, healthy relationship is the best gift you can give to your children. If they see Mom and Dad unhappy and emotionally abusing one another, they will often mimic and carry this into their own intimate relationships. If this is the case, it’s best to focus on both of your feelings and decide if you are going to work on having the best relationship you can have.
Patty Brisben, is the CEO and Founder of Pure Romance (www.pureromance.com). For more than two decades, Patty has been educating and empowering women all over the country about sexual health and relationship enhancement. Today, Patty speaks, lectures and writes about a wide range of issues. Drawing from extensive research in the industry and using her warm and engaging personality, Patty has become a noted expert in the fields of intimacy and relationships. Patty has been quoted in several magazines including Self, Women's Health, Glamour, Redbook, Men's Health, Details, US Weekly, In Touch and Life & Style.