When you build a love map you open yourself up to sharing your inner world: fears, aspirations, desires, and memories. You can start to reattune by asking things like “in what ways has our relationship let you down in the past?”, “what are your hopes for our future?” , “what is your biggest hope, fear, need right now?”. This is also where you reattune sexually. Are there sexual desires that you have not disclosed? Talk about them and truly listen. The video “It is Not About The Nail” is a great description of what listening does and does not look like.
This phase is marked by a solid commitment by both partners to stay in the marriage. They feel safe and confidently attached to each other and can begin to reassess life goals and meaning. Couples in this phase have weathered the storm.
Esther Perel notes “Couples who can successfully recover from infidelity often display a significant shift in language: From “you” and “me” to “our,” from “when you did this to me” to “this was an event in our life.” They talk about “When we had our crisis,” recounting a shared experience. Now they’re joint scriptwriters, sharing credit for the grand production of their life together”.
To solidify the “our” in the relationship couples reassess their rituals and life goals. How are they saying goodbye in the morning before work? How do they greet each other when they get home? Is there any consistency in holidays and weekends? When is their next vacation? How will they raise the children or plan for retirement? What legacy do they want their relationship to leave after they’ve died?
I’ve found that my couples know they are in this stage when they begin having fun on dates, increase their sexual intimacy, and talk with more openness and security.
Happily Ever After
Couples that move through these three stages find that the affair becomes an important part of their story. It’s the point in their relationship where they “woke up” and realized that something needed to change. They use it as an important reminder to maintain openness and to respond to each other’s needs.
Written By Elizabeth Earnshaw
Infidelity is always a tough and painful thing to deal with, and even more difficult is moving on from it. But infidelity can sometimes make your relationship stronger than before. So if both you and your partner are willing to work on your relationship, and are sure that you don’t want to give up on it, then working as a team to make everything better is the way to go.