In Something New! Open Discussion: Talk Amongst Yourselves, we asked you guys to spill your guts about what your biggest fears were, and you totally came through. Not everyone would be willing to say what they’re afraid of about marital affairs. But enough of you were brave enough to give us 6 different fears.
We need to talk about fear
It’s easy to give people rational advice about what to do, but that’s worthless in the face of fears. People get very attached to their fears. Fears can be pillars in some people’s personalities. You have to be careful when discussing fears because people can get very defensive and they may feel that you are belittling their fears, which makes them feel you are belittling them as people.
Let me say that we are not here to belittle your fears. Recognizing that fear is usually irrational does not belittle you as a person. Fears are not to be simply dismissed out of hand. Fears must be recognized and acknowledged. But after you recognize and acknowledge your fear, you must take the next step, which is to also recognize what your fears actually are.
I stumbled on this definition the other day and thought it was awesome: “Fear is an emotional & physiological reaction we feel based on imagining events which have not even happened.” You might want to read that sentence again.
In other words, fear is not who we are, it’s an emotional state we put ourselves in because of our own thoughts. I’m not talking about biological “fight or flight” responses in the face of physical danger—that’s altogether different. We can choose to have control over our own minds. We can choose not to imagine the worst. Then the emotional fear reaction will not arise. This is not always an easy thing to do to say the least. It takes some special training in neuro-linguistic programming to master it.
Recognizing and acknowledging your fear, and then also recognizing that it’s nothing but the product of your own imagination helps you reach the point of letting go of the fear so that it has no power over you. This is all more easily said than done, of course. It’s difficult to catch yourself in the act of being afraid and tracing its origins back to thoughts you had about events which may never happen.
Recognizing, acknowledging, and seeing your fears for what they are is the first step. You may not catch yourself all the time, but you will be more likely to catch yourself feeling irrational fears more often, and that means you can interrupt your usual habit of behavior (and really, that’s all it is: a habit).
OK, enough psychiatry for today. (Go see a real mental health professional if you feel you have serious problems, etc.). So what are your fears?
1. I’m afraid that my spouse has been physical with someone other than me.
This has got to be one of the top fears that we hear about in emails that we receive. Certainly this is not an irrational thought to have. The trust has been shattered in your relationship and now you don’t know what to believe. You wonder if you really ever knew your spouse at all.
Linda questions me regularly about this very matter. In fact, it happened this morning. She has a hard time believing that my emotional affair with Tanya did not get physical. We’ve had this same discussion several times. All I can do to alleviate her fears is to reiterate what I’ve told her and continue to build the trust until one day she will believe me and eliminate that fear from her mind.
2. I’m afraid my spouse will have another affair in the future.
Surviving one affair is ridiculously difficult. Having to do so more than once would be enough to drive the victim to the brink of insanity.
All you can do here is continue to work on yourself, on the communication, establishing boundaries and building trust. Do the things that are within your power to create a strong, honest and happy marriage. The rest will hopefully take care of itself. Learn from the past, but don’t live in it.
3. I fear my husband is having an affair and will get his affair partner pregnant.
Obviously if something like this happens, there are a host of concerns—number one being the child itself. There are custody issues, visitation, child support and the overall well-being of the child to be concerned with.
Though having an affair is not a responsible act, you would hope that your spouse (and his partner) would be responsible enough so that an unwanted pregnancy would not occur.
4. I’m afraid my wife will leave me after I had an affair.
If you are truly remorseful (and have expressed it) and are working at changing, communicating and expressing your love daily to your spouse and doing everything in your power to make your spouse trust you, eventually the pain that he/she is feeling will subside and he/she will trust you enough to love you completely and want to remain in the marriage.
5. I fear my spouse will leave and I will lose everything that we’ve worked for and lose my children as well.
I can relate to this fear myself—and I was the one in the affair. In this case however, the fear is that the cheating spouse will leave for his/her affair partner.
Statistics point to the fact that the chances of a relationship between affair partners being successful in the long run are not very good. Unfortunately, irrational emotions and illusions can be a strong addiction for those involved in affairs, and often result in married men and women leaving their spouses for their affair partners. Most of the time though, these blissful unions soon turn sour and die a natural death.
If your spouse has indeed ended his/her contact with the affair partner, then the chances of him/her leaving are not very high. Assuming that is, you are doing everything required to meet your spouse’s most important needs, etc. If the affair is still going on, then you have some work ahead of you, but you can still save your marriage.
6. I’m afraid that my spouse will resume contact and ultimately the affair with the other person.
In an earlier post we discussed the 2-step approach of Willard E. Harley Jr. Ph.D.: Step 1: Never have contact with the affair partner again, and work to create conditions that make it impossible for them to be in contact. Step 2: Create a romantic relationship with your spouse so that he/she won’t be so tempted to have an affair in the future.
If you follow this approach, you should have success in eliminating the temptation for the affair to resume. Dr. Harley does state though that it could take drastic measures such as quitting a job or even moving out of state to accomplish this. Is that something you and your spouse are prepared to do to save your marriage?
A Final Word…
Once again, thanks to those who were brave enough to offer up their greatest marital affair fears. If there are additional fears posted to the comments, we will be sure to mention them. Thanks also for the support that you are offering to each other. It gives Linda and me some wonderful feelings that this type of interaction is happening, as it is one of the underlying goals of this blog. If you enjoy a particular post, comment or discussion, please be sure to share it to others through the “Share This” button, or the “Tweet” button so that we can get others to share their point of view as well.