This is part four of the eight-part series on how to save your marriage after an affair. If you haven’t read the first three parts of the series, the links are below! Before reading Andrew G. Marshalls book, How Can I Ever Trust You Again?: Infidelity: From Discovery to Recovery in Seven Steps (affiliate), I wasn’t aware there were so many different types of affairs. Today we are going to be talking about the “Self-Medication Affair.”
- The Accidental Affair
- The Cry For Help Affair
- The Retaliatory Affair
- The Self-Medication Affair
- The Don Juan and Doña Juana Affair
- The Tripod Affair
- The Exploratory Affair
- The Exit Affair
The Self-Medication Affair
These types of affairs are bred on the grounds of a relationship that has problems that have been ignored for a long time. When issues have not been addressed, there is a history, and real-life obligations such as children or finances, a person might feel trapped in a relationship. If you’re in this type of relationship, things are just good enough to stay, but not bad enough to leave. Essentially you’re in relationship limbo. Maybe you have started to separate a bit, you focus on your individual life more than the relationship life.
Everyone knows of ways that they self-medicate. Maybe it’s going to the gym every day after work to blow off steam, or maybe hitting the local bar for your favorite drink before heading home. These types of affairs serve the same function. The problem with the things I listed above is that they are short-term “solutions” to life stressors. Hitting the gym, grabbing a drink, or having an affair does not solve the root issue at hand. Essentially it’s a band-aid on a bullet wound. These affairs often can run deep and can be hard to give up. Like addiction and other maladaptive coping habits, this affair is a crutch in life.
Often both parties have been unhappy for a long time but never knew how to communicate the issue to the other (hence the medication affair). The biggest struggle in this type of relationship is how deep and how long these issues have been present in their relationship. Often couples are so emotionally distant that by the time the affair happens and comes out the couple could have been living separate lives. Given the state of unhappiness and distance in these relationships, the person who had the affair is not the only one using maladaptive coping habits. Often the other has fallen deeply into their work life or is overly invested in their children’s lives, or is always focusing on their social life.
These affairs can last anywhere from six months or more (even years). It’s possible in this situation that affairs have happened in the past but were not properly dealt with, but rather swept under the rug and ignored. If you’re in your “mid-life crisis” stage, then these affairs are more probable to happen. Sometimes these affairs are a “self-esteem boost,” a way to reassure the individual they still “got it.”
How To Save Your Marriage
At first sight, these affairs might seem overwhelming to heal from. As intimidating as it seems, focus on the fact that all problems are on the table. Both of you are now aware and giving the attention the relationship needs. Think of your coping habits. Obviously, they haven’t worked. So try something new. Try the exact opposite. If you normally explode, take deep breaths and count internally. If you’re the silent type, try allowing your voice to be heard.
I always recommend professional help when dealing with infidelity, so part of recovery might be getting into couples therapy and really addressing the root issues beneath the affair. These affairs are smack in the middle of the “infidelity ladder” that Andrew G. Marshall writes in his book. This is why if you’ve experienced an affair that is lower on the ladder to address it. If not, then that affair could turn into this type of affair. Worse, if you have had this type of affair and it is not addressed, it can turn into a Tripod or even and Exit Affair.
If you’re struggling from any type of affair there are resources out there. A resource I highly recommend is Affair Recovery. I’ve personally talked to Sam and he is so helpful and his video’s on youtube are such a guide through the turmoil after discovery/disclosure.