I have noticed during my work as a couple counsellor that the loss of the early interest, acknowledgement and admiration of each other is often cited when a couple’s presenting problem is an affair. When lack of desire is the presenting problem, loss of interest, admiration and acknowledgement between the two frequently go hand in hand with this problem. Sarah Fletcher’s blog posted last week mentions ideas for New Year Resolutions. The points made in 4 and 5 also touch on this hypothesis.
Often, when asking couples what drew them to each other on their first date and during the early relationship, the answer on both sides is, they showed interest in me as a person and admired my approach to life, acknowledging my input in all aspects of life. When asking where they think the difficulties they are bringing to therapy started, it occurs when criticism and dissatisfaction has started to seep into the hitherto daily respect and tolerance.
This new couple interaction makes each person feel they have lost something fundamental in their intimate couple and no sex or unsatisfactory sex may follow as a symptom. A third party then has no difficulty with driving a wedge into the couple containment and often functions initially by picking up what is wrong with the couple and acting out the opposite. This is very attractive to the one they are seducing and seems to replace what they have lost for a while.
Thus an affair begins, followed by the fall out once this is discovered by the one on the outside of the triangle. If a couple knows this on entry into a long term commitment, when they begin to sense that they are no longer admired but are beginning to be an irritant, it would be beneficial if at that stage the couple enters some kind of couple work to arrest this common start to the disintegrations of trust and intimacy between them.
At Coupleworks we are all familiar with this presenting problem in our consulting rooms and know that early intervention can save what seems to be happening. If left to fester, the damage to all aspects of couple intimacy can be irretrievable.
Clare Ireland