“Physical infidelity is the signal, the notice given,
that all fidelities are undermined.” —Katherine Anne Porter
What would you do if your partner had an affair?
In a new relationship, everything is perfect and exciting and smells good. You are full of passion and hope. You just can’t get enough of each other. You hang on every word, every glance, and check your messages twenty times a minute to see if he called.
Eventually, those gooey, romantic, butterflies-in-my-stomach feelings start to fade as real life butts in and distracts from the relationship. Work, money, kids, laundry, in-laws, etc… they all get in the way of sustaining that initial bliss. And let’s face it, we just can’t love anyone at that intense level every day for the next 150 years.
Love that is to endure and flourish needs more than passion. It needs patience, flexibility, trust, reliability, perseverance, humor and a deeper commitment. These are the things that maintain relationships through those inevitable life-hits-you-in-the-face moments.
All relationships take hits. Sometimes the hits come from the outside. From life itself. Other times, the hits come from the inside—when we hurt each other. Renowned relationship therapist, Hedy Schleifer, refers to these internal hits as “energy leaks,” or things we do that detract from or cause damage to our most intimate relationships. Energy leaks are considered to be anything that has couples turning away from each other instead of turning toward each other.
Minor energy leaks might include things like:
- too much television or computer use
- focusing completely on the children
- turning to friends for intimate conversations
- hobbies or sports that take up all our free time
- working too much for long periods of time
These are everyday things that exist—and are perfectly normal—in all of our lives, but that in excess, could pollute the space where our relationship thrives. If not attended to, those energy leaks have the potential to form a critical crack in the foundation of the relationship.
Then there are the major and catastrophic energy leaks. These have a more serious and immediate impact on relationships. Major energy leaks include things like addiction, secrets, mental illness, or affairs. Most major energy leaks have a chance for recovery. They also have the ability to become catastrophic, and ultimately irreparable.
Given a hypothetical, most people would agree that the most damaging thing their partner could do in the relationship is to cheat. That puts infidelity at the top of the list as a major energy leak.
And at it’s worst, infidelity is absolutely catastrophic.
Relationships begin with passion and love, but they are sustained with trust and commitment. Infidelity inflicts a deep wound into that sacred connection. A lot can be forgiven in relationships. Even infidelity doesn’t have to be catastrophic. But it always creates a serious crack in the foundation.
What is infidelity?