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Understanding Infidelity
John R. Williams, MMFT 2
We Are All Torn Between
Faithfulness & Infidelity
Designed to Give
God’s Faithful Love
 To fulfi...
John R. Williams, MMFT 3
 Understanding Affairs
 Why Spouses Cheat
 How Affairs Happen
 Recovery from Affairs
 Safegu...
John R. Williams, MMFT 4
Understanding
Affairs
John R. Williams, MMFT 5
What Is Infidelity?
One partner squandering what was
assumed to belong exclusively to the
spouse
...
John R. Williams, MMFT 6
Three Defining Elements
of Infidelity
1. Secrecy
 Encounters hidden
from spouse and
others
2. Em...
John R. Williams, MMFT 7
Infidelity Involves Reversal of
“Walls & Windows”
Marriage partners
 Close off walls to others
...
John R. Williams, MMFT 8
Impact of Affair on the Family
During the affair:
 The spouse
senses a
problem but
doubts their
...
John R. Williams, MMFT 9
Myths about Affairs
1. It takes you by
surprise
2. It was a loveless
marriage
3. The spouse was
l...
John R. Williams, MMFT 10
Myths about Affairs I
1. It takes you by surprise
 It is often a long process
 Involves many s...
John R. Williams, MMFT 11
Myths about Affairs II
4. It’s about sex and
being sexy
 Many affairs are for
companionship
 S...
John R. Williams, MMFT 12
Myths about Affairs III
6. The sex makes it so
unforgivable
 The deceit is often more so
7. It’...
John R. Williams, MMFT 13
Frequency of Infidelity
Affects about 35%
of marriages
 About 24% of
men
 About 14% of
women
S...
John R. Williams, MMFT 14
4 Kinds of Affairs I
1. One Night Stand
 Quick sexual
encounter
 Impersonal
 Cheater was
impa...
John R. Williams, MMFT 15
4 Kinds of Affairs II
3. Emotional
 Nurturing; started as
friendship
 “Soulmate” obsession
tha...
John R. Williams, MMFT 16
Affairs & Gender Differences I
Intimacy and sex
1. Men tend to sexualize a
close friendship
 Vi...
John R. Williams, MMFT 17
Affairs & Gender Differences II
Marital discontent
 Wives tend to be
dissatisfied with
marriage...
John R. Williams, MMFT 18
Why Spouses
Cheat
John R. Williams, MMFT 19
Affair as “Vanity Mirror”
“I like the way I look in my lover’s eyes”
1. Escape from the reflecti...
John R. Williams, MMFT 20
How Fatal Attractions Begin
1. Unfinished business in
the early child’s and
sibling’s realms of ...
John R. Williams, MMFT 21
Fatal Attraction
1. Someone meets long
denied emotional
needs
 Generates blinding
infatuation
2...
John R. Williams, MMFT 22
12 Factors
Increasing Temptation 1
1. Long term stress and fatigue
2. Desire to escape a painful...
John R. Williams, MMFT 23
12 Factors
Increasing Temptation 2
7. Fear of being controlled or getting too close
8. Resentmen...
John R. Williams, MMFT 24
How Affairs
Happen
John R. Williams, MMFT 25
People Helpers’
Vulnerabilities to Affairs
 Deeply involved in
other’s personal
lives, so can g...
John R. Williams, MMFT 26
4 Steps towards an Affair
1. Fantasies of involvement
2. (Emotional involvement)
3. Physical inv...
John R. Williams, MMFT 27
1. Fantasies of Involvement
Imagining being with someone
 Whether fictional or real people
 Re...
John R. Williams, MMFT 28
2. Emotional Involvement
1. Friendship
becomes
dependency
 Rely on them to
meet marital
needs
2...
John R. Williams, MMFT 29
Warning Signs
 You’ve got a need
your mate isn’t meeting:
Attention, fun,
approval or affection...
John R. Williams, MMFT 30
3. Physical Involvement
1. Emotional intimacy wants increasing physical
expression
2. One kiss c...
John R. Williams, MMFT 31
4. Rationalizations
 It feels too good to
stop
 Cover-ups and
excuses needed as
with any addic...
John R. Williams, MMFT 32
Recovery
from Affairs
John R. Williams, MMFT 33
Surviving the Affair:
12 Points for the Cheated I
1. Get help
 To control primitive
reactions
...
John R. Williams, MMFT 34
Surviving the Affair:
12 Points for the Cheated II
3. Treat unrepentant
adultery like abuse
 Do...
John R. Williams, MMFT 35
Surviving the Affair:
12 Points for the Cheated III
6. Ask for the
information
you need
 Disarm...
John R. Williams, MMFT 36
Surviving the Affair:
12 Points for the Cheated IV
8. Recognize your mate
is “on drugs”
 Try no...
John R. Williams, MMFT 37
Surviving the Affair:
12 Points for the Cheated V
11. Believe in a
future beyond this
 Don’t le...
John R. Williams, MMFT 38
Surviving the Affair:
6 Points for the Cheater I
1. Take full responsibility
for what went wrong...
John R. Williams, MMFT 39
Surviving the Affair:
6 Points for the Cheater II
3. Create safety;
reverse walls and
windows
 ...
John R. Williams, MMFT 40
Surviving the Affair:
6 Points for the Cheater III
5. Cut off from the
lover
 Not even email or...
John R. Williams, MMFT 41
Safeguarding
Your Marriage
John R. Williams, MMFT 42
Safeguarding Your Marriage I
1. Acknowledge that attractions and
mistakes can happen
 Regardles...
John R. Williams, MMFT 43
Safeguarding Your Marriage II
3. Maintain boundaries
 Be careful about eye contact
 Share deep...
John R. Williams, MMFT 44
Safeguarding Your Marriage III
5. Be careful at work and online
 You cannot know who is vulnera...
John R. Williams, MMFT 45
Safeguarding Your Marriage III
6. Avoid isolation from spouse
 Bring things out in the open to ...
John R. Williams, MMFT 46
Safeguarding Your Marriage IV
8. Pursue marriage strengthening activities
 Share new recreation...
John R. Williams, MMFT 47
Recommended Resources
 Torn Asunder, by Tom Carder
 Not “Just Friends,” by Shirley Glass,
 Hi...
John R. Williams, MFT 48
John R. Williams, MFT
 John@JohnWilliamsCounselor.com
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Understanding Infidelity: What It Is, Why It Happens, How to Cope and How to Prevent It

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This outlines the fundamentals of infidelity in marriage: how to define it, why it happens, how to cope with it when it happens, and how to help prevent it. Assumes a faith-based orientation.

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Understanding Infidelity: What It Is, Why It Happens, How to Cope and How to Prevent It

  1. 1. Understanding Infidelity
  2. 2. John R. Williams, MMFT 2 We Are All Torn Between Faithfulness & Infidelity Designed to Give God’s Faithful Love  To fulfill our own and our mate’s expectations to be faithfully loved  Template of true husband and wife Born from Adultery  Deeply imbued with patterns of weakness and betrayal  Evil template of false mate and false friend and elder
  3. 3. John R. Williams, MMFT 3  Understanding Affairs  Why Spouses Cheat  How Affairs Happen  Recovery from Affairs  Safeguarding Your Marriage
  4. 4. John R. Williams, MMFT 4 Understanding Affairs
  5. 5. John R. Williams, MMFT 5 What Is Infidelity? One partner squandering what was assumed to belong exclusively to the spouse  Dividing love between two  Violation of emotional and physical boundaries  Invasion of the sacred partnership “I thought we had a special relationship and now you have ruined it”
  6. 6. John R. Williams, MMFT 6 Three Defining Elements of Infidelity 1. Secrecy  Encounters hidden from spouse and others 2. Emotional intimacy  Sharing confidences the spouse doesn’t know  Dependency 3. Sexual chemistry  Mutual attraction  The affair begins once both sides recognize this, and don’t break it off Shirley Glass, Not “Just Friends”
  7. 7. John R. Williams, MMFT 7 Infidelity Involves Reversal of “Walls & Windows” Marriage partners  Close off walls to others  Open windows to each other Cheaters in affairs  Put up a wall to their spouse about the lover  Open a window to the lover about their spouse, marriage and inner life  Bond with the lover over shared secrets
  8. 8. John R. Williams, MMFT 8 Impact of Affair on the Family During the affair:  The spouse senses a problem but doubts their instincts  Children absorb the mentality of the cheater or the cheated After the affair:  Deep humiliation and sense of violation  Self-doubt: “Aren’t I good enough?”  Rage and resentment  Shattered ideals about love, commitment and trust in the opposite sex
  9. 9. John R. Williams, MMFT 9 Myths about Affairs 1. It takes you by surprise 2. It was a loveless marriage 3. The spouse was lacking somehow 4. It’s about sex and being sexy 5. Unless there is sex there is no affair 6. The sex makes it so unforgivable 7. It’s only about weak character 8. Cheating is inevitable
  10. 10. John R. Williams, MMFT 10 Myths about Affairs I 1. It takes you by surprise  It is often a long process  Involves many small lapses of judgement 2. It was a loveless marriage  55% of husbands and 35% of wives who cheat are in happy marriages 3. The spouse was lacking somehow  Blaming the victim is common after the affair begins  The cheater was likely lacking  Cheating is the cheater’s responsibility
  11. 11. John R. Williams, MMFT 11 Myths about Affairs II 4. It’s about sex and being sexy  Many affairs are for companionship  Sex may well be better at home  Lovers are chosen to be different from the spouse, not always better looking 5. Without sex, there is no affair  Emotional affairs can be just as hard to break off  To wives, emotional affairs can be worse than one night stands
  12. 12. John R. Williams, MMFT 12 Myths about Affairs III 6. The sex makes it so unforgivable  The deceit is often more so 7. It’s all about weak character  80-90% of betrayers or betrayed had adulterous parents  Good people under great stress can fall 8. Cheating is inevitable  Only about 18% of spouses cheat  Adulterers tend to have friends who believe this
  13. 13. John R. Williams, MMFT 13 Frequency of Infidelity Affects about 35% of marriages  About 24% of men  About 14% of women Sex in America, University of Chicago  Early years of marriage are high risk  Many are unfaithful as they are leaving a marriage  Rates for women are increasing
  14. 14. John R. Williams, MMFT 14 4 Kinds of Affairs I 1. One Night Stand  Quick sexual encounter  Impersonal  Cheater was impaired by alcohol, tiredness, etc. 2. Addictive  Many impersonal sexual encounters  Can’t stop  Cycle of remorse then repeating
  15. 15. John R. Williams, MMFT 15 4 Kinds of Affairs II 3. Emotional  Nurturing; started as friendship  “Soulmate” obsession that’s hard to break off  Hard to feel guilty  May be tantalizingly non-physical  Lasts 18 to 24 mos. 4. Common Interest  Periodic, based on shared activity  No other contact between encounters  Hard to break off
  16. 16. John R. Williams, MMFT 16 Affairs & Gender Differences I Intimacy and sex 1. Men tend to sexualize a close friendship  View sharing of feelings as sign of romantic bond 2. Women tend to get emotionally intimate before considering physical connection Affair with “just sex”  25% of men  3% of women
  17. 17. John R. Williams, MMFT 17 Affairs & Gender Differences II Marital discontent  Wives tend to be dissatisfied with marriage long before an affair  Men are often satisfied yet caught by temptation Betrayal  Women can feel more betrayed by long relationships involving intimate conversation, gifts and time  Men tend to see sex as worse than emotional contact
  18. 18. John R. Williams, MMFT 18 Why Spouses Cheat
  19. 19. John R. Williams, MMFT 19 Affair as “Vanity Mirror” “I like the way I look in my lover’s eyes” 1. Escape from the reflection of shortcomings in your spouse’s view of you  Can be the heroic rescuer, the sexy beauty, the sensitive, understanding one 2. Assuages one or both most basic fears:  Am I accepted and loved?  Am I good enough?
  20. 20. John R. Williams, MMFT 20 How Fatal Attractions Begin 1. Unfinished business in the early child’s and sibling’s realms of heart pushes to get resolved  Harnesses sexual energy to meet emotional needs  Can be healthy in marriage but fatal outside of it 2. Leads to forbidden desires for sex and the wrong person  Opposite sex  Same sex  Older  Younger  Bad character
  21. 21. John R. Williams, MMFT 21 Fatal Attraction 1. Someone meets long denied emotional needs  Generates blinding infatuation 2. Artificial situations make lover look good  Spouse may look bad by comparison
  22. 22. John R. Williams, MMFT 22 12 Factors Increasing Temptation 1 1. Long term stress and fatigue 2. Desire to escape a painful marriage 3. Poor communication, conflict resolution or problem solving skills 4. Wanting relief from sadness, boredom or feeling old 5. Longing for approval, attention, comfort, etc. 6. Looking for a way to grow
  23. 23. John R. Williams, MMFT 23 12 Factors Increasing Temptation 2 7. Fear of being controlled or getting too close 8. Resentment against the partner 9. Deviant sexual arousal patterns not satisfied in marriage 10.Immaturity; belief in entitlement to sex or happiness 11.Parents involved in infidelity 12.Friends who cheat
  24. 24. John R. Williams, MMFT 24 How Affairs Happen
  25. 25. John R. Williams, MMFT 25 People Helpers’ Vulnerabilities to Affairs  Deeply involved in other’s personal lives, so can get too close  Prone to burnout, so vulnerable to comfort  Receive criticism and little thanks, so can need appreciation  Look like saviors to others  Their marriages are strained by their dedication  Investing their whole heart, so can be deeply hurt  Co-workers share their dedication, hurts and fatigue, so they make a strong bond
  26. 26. John R. Williams, MMFT 26 4 Steps towards an Affair 1. Fantasies of involvement 2. (Emotional involvement) 3. Physical involvement 4. Rationalizations
  27. 27. John R. Williams, MMFT 27 1. Fantasies of Involvement Imagining being with someone  Whether fictional or real people  Rehearses possibilities and lowers resistance  Invites others to dare you to fulfil your fantasy  “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
  28. 28. John R. Williams, MMFT 28 2. Emotional Involvement 1. Friendship becomes dependency  Rely on them to meet marital needs 2. Male/female magnetism  Constant pull 3. Hard to detect or admit  No outward sin  Only motives are wrong 4. Touching emotionally  Meeting need for acceptance, affirmation, recognition
  29. 29. John R. Williams, MMFT 29 Warning Signs  You’ve got a need your mate isn’t meeting: Attention, fun, approval or affection  It’s easier to unwind with this person  You discuss marital problems with this person  You dress with this person in mind  You look forward to being with this person  You wonder what you’d do if you didn’t have this friend to talk with  You hide the relationship from your mate
  30. 30. John R. Williams, MMFT 30 3. Physical Involvement 1. Emotional intimacy wants increasing physical expression 2. One kiss can be electrifying  Escalates the bonding  Harder to move from friendship to the first kiss than from a kiss to intercourse “These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:15
  31. 31. John R. Williams, MMFT 31 4. Rationalizations  It feels too good to stop  Cover-ups and excuses needed as with any addiction  Explains it after the fact, often criticizing the spouse to justify what happened  Just one more time and no more  If my spouse met my needs, I wouldn’t do this  My lover needs me  God knows I need this and will forgive me  No one knows; what’s the harm?
  32. 32. John R. Williams, MMFT 32 Recovery from Affairs
  33. 33. John R. Williams, MMFT 33 Surviving the Affair: 12 Points for the Cheated I 1. Get help  To control primitive reactions  To carefully choose your responses  You probably can’t save your marriage by yourself 2. Let yourself feel your feelings  Like a grieving process, it takes time  Vent both anger and sadness
  34. 34. John R. Williams, MMFT 34 Surviving the Affair: 12 Points for the Cheated II 3. Treat unrepentant adultery like abuse  Do not enable them to carry on the affair  Do not try to “win them back”  Demand respect  Use “tough love” and give consequences 4. Set your boundaries clearly  Declare what will not be tolerated 5. Act as honorably as possible  Avoid disrespect
  35. 35. John R. Williams, MMFT 35 Surviving the Affair: 12 Points for the Cheated III 6. Ask for the information you need  Disarm secrets and regain power  But don’t ask for more details than you can handle 7. Check for STDs  Do not have sex until the affair is over and your mate has been cleared
  36. 36. John R. Williams, MMFT 36 Surviving the Affair: 12 Points for the Cheated IV 8. Recognize your mate is “on drugs”  Try not to take it personally 9. Avoid a victim mentality  Depersonalize and accept what has happened 10. Find forgiveness  For what you can  Don’t be manipulated by guilt
  37. 37. John R. Williams, MMFT 37 Surviving the Affair: 12 Points for the Cheated V 11. Believe in a future beyond this  Don’t let the affair define your marriage  Pray to emerge stronger 12. Seek meaning from this crisis  Reversing ancestral sin  Use it to become a better spouse and couple
  38. 38. John R. Williams, MMFT 38 Surviving the Affair: 6 Points for the Cheater I 1. Take full responsibility for what went wrong  Never blame your mate for your choice  Accept your mate’s abusive reactions and other pain as the cost of your mistake 2. Get help  Buddy to help hold you accountable  A coach to keep you on track  Counselor to explore weaknesses
  39. 39. John R. Williams, MMFT 39 Surviving the Affair: 6 Points for the Cheater II 3. Create safety; reverse walls and windows  End secrets  Volunteer information to your spouse  Report unavoidable encounters with the lover 4. Prove you are trustworthy  Account for your whereabouts and spending at all times  As often and as long as necessary
  40. 40. John R. Williams, MMFT 40 Surviving the Affair: 6 Points for the Cheater III 5. Cut off from the lover  Not even email or texting  Expect to be depressed for weeks, like drug withdrawal  You will want to go back at times 6. Correct the vulnerabilities leading to the affair  “What did I like about myself with the lover?”  What needs was I unaware were not being met?
  41. 41. John R. Williams, MMFT 41 Safeguarding Your Marriage
  42. 42. John R. Williams, MMFT 42 Safeguarding Your Marriage I 1. Acknowledge that attractions and mistakes can happen  Regardless of commitment or love 2. Discuss with your spouse when you are vulnerable and tempted  Admit to yourself what kind of person might be a Fatal Attraction  Clarify what infidelity is to each other  Pledge to tell of any attractions or mistakes within 24 hours
  43. 43. John R. Williams, MMFT 43 Safeguarding Your Marriage II 3. Maintain boundaries  Be careful about eye contact  Share deepest feelings, needs, and difficulties only with your spouse  Keep “window” to mate and “walls” to all others 4. Extinguish attractions when they begin  Recognize they are 80% unreality  Never tell the other of attractions
  44. 44. John R. Williams, MMFT 44 Safeguarding Your Marriage III 5. Be careful at work and online  You cannot know who is vulnerable  Don’t chat with the same person all the time  When travelling, meet only in public areas  Playful exchanges can look like flirting  Include your spouse in meetings and email exchanges
  45. 45. John R. Williams, MMFT 45 Safeguarding Your Marriage III 6. Avoid isolation from spouse  Bring things out in the open to discuss  Ask for what you need 7. Keep courting your spouse  Constantly win your mate’s love  Reserve time for talk and fun experiences  Have “secret” encounters and playful sex  Focus on mate’s strengths as others do  Invest as much as in parenting
  46. 46. John R. Williams, MMFT 46 Safeguarding Your Marriage IV 8. Pursue marriage strengthening activities  Share new recreational, educational and spiritual adventures together  Mentor new couples  Keep learning new information and skills 9. Choose pro-marriage friends  Be careful whom you discuss problems with  Find same-sex accountability buddies  Nurture “couple” friendships
  47. 47. John R. Williams, MMFT 47 Recommended Resources  Torn Asunder, by Tom Carder  Not “Just Friends,” by Shirley Glass,  His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair Proof Marriage, by Willard Harley & MarriageBuilders.com  The Divorce Remedy, by Michele Wiener Davis & DivorceBusters.com  AffairRecovery.com
  48. 48. John R. Williams, MFT 48 John R. Williams, MFT  John@JohnWilliamsCounselor.com

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