You might be aware that a couple of weeks ago we conducted a brief survey of our readers. We asked 8 questions. One of those questions was:
What is the biggest fear for you right now when it comes to your relationship?
It was a bit of a chore to sift through all of the responses for the other survey questions in order to get some sort of common theme, but for this question it was quite easy:
Clearly, to sum it up, the biggest fear for the majority of readers is that an affair could happen again.
The fear applies to whether the affair could pick up again with the same affair partner or that a new affair might start with someone else.
Here is a sampling of some common responses. They are worded differently but they are all saying the same thing.
- That given an opportunity to “connect” with someone else, he won’t have the skills or desire to say no.
- Trusting that we won’t fall into the same patterns and history repeat itself.
- Being hurt again.
- I guess it’s possible it could happen again.
- A slip up would end in divorce.
- If I count on him again, and allow myself to become dependent on him, and secure in our relationship, this will happen again and I won’t be strong enough to get through it again.
- That he won’t tell me the truth if he is faced with that situation again.
- That she will call again or that someone else will come along to fill whatever part of him I can’t.
- That he will become weak again and contact the OW.
- That he will continue to cheat with her.
- The impossible happened….so, it can happen again.
- He might start a relationship with her again.
- I’m afraid of another EA, either with the same person or someone else.
- That my wife will leave me.
- That it will blow up again, although if it does I do know that I am done!! So why do I look over my shoulder? I guess I want the guarantee that can’t exist.
- That we will do the work, I will forgive him and make a commitment to the future, and then he will betray or disappoint me again.
- That one day it will happen again.
- Discovery that my husband has resumed contact with her.
- That he will let his guard down, or that things won’t be going well between us the next time she tries to make contact.
- That my husband will reach out to is EA partner again or go to someone else.
- That he will change his mind and leave again. That he will lie to me again.
- That my husband doesn’t know the whys and will do it again.
- That my H will reestablish contact with the AP through a hidden email or phone number.
So what do you think is the root of these fears?
I think it’s trust – or lack of it, that is.
The fear is present because most of us are so afraid of being hurt again that we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to completely trust our spouse.
It is the realization that we really have no control of the actions of our spouse and to trust them again is a leap of faith, even though perhaps they may be working hard to rebuild our trust.
It is so difficult to understand the mind of the cheater so we tend to perceive that an affair happens without much thought or realization of the possible consequences. The affair happens quickly and before they know it they are in way over their heads. Aware of this realization, it is difficult not to have the reservations that were mentioned in our survey.
It’s a lack of trust in that what our spouse is telling us is true. It’s not knowing for certain that any changes that our spouse has made or that were made in our relationship are real. It’s not trusting that those emails to a co-worker were strictly business related. It’s not trusting that our relationship is to a strong enough point yet where our spouse still might be tempted. It’s not knowing that our spouse has truly looked within to determine why he/she was vulnerable to an affair in the first place.
You can read a zillion articles on line about affair prevention and most will tell you pretty much the same thing – that you have to have marital boundaries, communicate well, be honest, have fun together, etc. All of those are certainly important and necessary for preventing an affair, but until the cheater really looks within and determines why the hell he did what he did, none of that other stuff is going to do much good. It’s like building a house on sand. The foundation is not stable enough. It’s too soft.
Once that introspection has been done and the betrayed starts to see real concrete changes in the cheater’s actions and that he/she is putting forth tremendous effort to rebuild trust and work on the relationship, then trust can start to really take hold and mean something.
Eventually, the fear that an affair could happen again will subside and ultimately disappear.