MEEUWSEN: If something's been missing from a relationship that has caused someone to even consider, much less get involved in an affair, I'm sure there's the fear on the part of the person who's made that decision that if I go back into this relationship, my needs are never going to be met. HARLEY: That's always kind of a leading point, that there is something to that. HARLEY: All it does is get you in deeper and you end up having a miserable experience, to say nothing about the miserable experiences of all the people you love. And it's OK not to tell the truth to the people you love the most.
There are reasons why people have affairs, but I often argue that there are no excuses. MEEUWSEN: Speaking of people that you love, so often by the time someone gets into an affair situation, they've been married long enough that they have children. The other thing they learn is that it's OK to be thoughtless.
MEEUWSEN: We all go to the altar thinking we're going to make it without ever experiencing something like this, and yet statistics show that a majority of marriages go through an affair. They want out and they want a new life and they see this other person as their avenue to that, and yet there seems to be something in people when they've made a commitment to a partner for life, particularly where children are involved, that they want to find out what they ought to do from here.
When someone makes a connection like that with a soul mate, usually they don't want to even hear about restoring a marriage.
MEEUWSEN: People can get a hold of you through your website.
Foundations Counseling in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor believes in helping individuals, couples, and families educate themselves to better understand their experiences and feelings.
And so we made a compact with each other to be radically honest with each other about everything, that we would never lie to each other. The second thing is that she would always be my best friend. She would end up being the person I would go with on trips. I would not allow myself to be tempted to have an affair with somebody else. They don't understand that leaving this person that they're attracted to is the first step toward marital recovery. You get away from the substance that you're addicted to. The second thing is you have to go through withdrawal because once you leave the addictive situation, you will go through a period of deep depression, and one of the things that people have told me--the betrayed spouse says, one of the hardest parts of all of this is to get through the withdrawal, because here they have their husband or wife back but the husband or wife is miserable. That never works, just like you can't get over being an alcoholic if you're drinking all the time.
If either of us were going to be gone for any period of time, the other would be there as well. And if I ever found somebody else attractive, the first person to know about it would be my wife. HARLEY: Well, the first thing they have to do is get away from the attractive person, and that's the first step. If they're having an affair, they can never see or talk to the lover again the rest of their lives. MEEUWSEN: Well, I would imagine the other partner in a marriage would have to be very quiet and patient during those times to let the person walk through these processes to get to the point... HARLEY: They usually need a lot of support and they need to understand what the end of this process is going to look like, a lot of encouragement. Talk about the most important needs that men and women have in relationships. HARLEY: Well, the needs that people have, quite frankly, can be broken down into 10 of them. But the affairs that I work with the most are what I call affairs that have a deep emotional connection and people feel that they're soul mates. There are affairs that are one-night stands that don't mean anything, that are just a tryst. I think that people start out assuming it's not going to happen to them. You know, we get inoculated for various diseases that we're likely to get, but we don't bother to get inoculated for an affair. MEEUWSEN: I was surprised in the book that so many people come to you. HARLEY: Well, I think we're born with the instinct to have an affair, quite frankly. People that are given the opportunity and have not taken precautions to avoid it generally succumb to the temptation. I call them soul mate types of affairs because that's the way everybody talks about them when they're having it.You mentioned early on that one of the reasons that people find themselves in this situation is that they come into marriage thinking that it can never happen to them. They're through withdrawal; then the recovery can actually begin.