Having an affair is one of the most devastating occurrences in a relationship. Often the hurt caused is so deep that it leaves the relationship beyond repair. Willingness on both sides to examine carefully what led to the affair in the first place, to face the emotional impact and to make reparations is necessary to move on. Healing the loss of trust caused by an affair and to move on and grow further through it, to even strengthen the bond is possible, providing the willingness is there.
Lack of faithfulness is not only hurtful to one’s partner but also to oneself. The basis of it is a lack of faithfulness or honesty with oneself. Not only do I let my partner down but also myself.
Unfaithfulness implies loss of faith. It expresses itself in being unable to be true to myself, to my inner values, to face myself and to take care of myself emotionally. When I become unfaithful, am I losing faith in communicating my love? Have I lost faith in my capacity to be honest with myself and my partner?
If I am not faithful to myself it may be reflected in my lack of faith in my partner’s suitability. If my difficulty is not acknowledged I may lose trust in my partner. Doubts can inform us about fears that we haven’t faced yet. They can alarm us to our insecurities and uncertainties and evoke to bring more of us into the relationship by way of honest reflection and sharing.
Honesty leads to the realisation that I can hurt my partner with my words and actions. Noticing that my partner has feelings, needs, wants, limits and values too helps me to cultivate patience and compassion. Gifting my love and trust to my partner involves sometimes difficult choices in the form of restraints. I may choose to give up some behaviour that threatens my regard for the values and well-being of my partner. What is required of me is to develop tolerance when I don’t get what I want. My needs must be balanced with my partner’s. As I learn to trust and respect another “self” I grow in my ability to relate as an adult.
When my relationship is mainly dominated by an attitude of “what can I get” rather than “what can I give” the child part in me dominates. I am likely to experience many upheavals, will feel happy when my needs are met and openly or secretly angry, blaming and resentful when they are not. Blame hinders me in accepting responsibility for my contribution to my painful experience. I may frequently drop and replace partners as if they were consumable objects. In a state of neediness I may feel at the mercy of another person’s giving, may feel powerless and become more greedy in fear of missing out. In a state of “wanting” I may lose appreciation of what I already have got. I may become insatiable and isolated at the same time, somehow trapped in my own self-obsessed bubble of wants.
What does it mean to be faithful? Essentially it is finding out who I am and learning to be true to that.
- I look inward and allow myself also not to know, take risks and ask questions.
- I reflect on my dreams, visions, values.
- I notice whether my needs, wants and actions are dominated by fear or love.
- I begin to notice what I am doing, sensing, thinking and feeling, and what impact it has on myself and others.
- I recognise that my partner’s interests are as important as mine.
- I let my partner know what is going on for me, especially if I make choices that will impact on her/him.
- I make myself transparent and open to being vulnerable.
- I learn to be intimate with myself.
- I learn to be courageous to face, trust and love myself.
- I begin to trust that I am essentially okay.
- I commit to becoming my own ally and friend. This makes it possible to discover uncomfortable truths about myself without being destroyed by them.
- Through examining my motivation and intention I bring awareness into my actions.
- I become curious about who you are and notice how much we have in common.
Being true to myself involves learning from my mistakes, noticing which experiences have extended and enriched me and which have not. We are all social beings, and to live in harmony with each other we need to learn to care for ourselves and each other simultaneously, as well as for our environment, nature and animals.
Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch
Copyright © 10/1999 by Rumijabu | Originally published in Southshore Beacon #112, Oct1999