How a Marriage Counselor Views Colin Powells Personal Emails

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How a Marriage Counselor Views Colin Powells Personal Emails
After discovering your partner's suspicious emails, consider this expert advice.

A few weeks ago ABC News reported hacked emails that suggested that Colin Powell had had a close relationship with a Romanian Diplomat.  In his statement he acknowledged that these emails were of a personal nature.  He went on to say that there had not been nor was there now, an affair.
I have admired many sides of Colin Powell.  I find myself once again reflecting on the meaning of how today’s use of emails and text messages reveals the human yearning for a deeper connection.
As a marriage counselor, I often sit with couples as one partner has just discovered what seems like “cheating” through the Internet.  I want to describe my experience of this phenomenon in the therapy session with the couple. 
In my approach, I seek to move out of a seat of judgment or the familiar “who’s right, who’s wrong” game and instead I want to take a long, loving look at the real.  For the wife or husband who discovers these emails, indicating a kind of intimacy between the outside couple, the impact will be like a tsunami.  The sense of betrayal will have a long lasting impact that will take a long time to heal.
So many times, I have seen the partners who have reached outside of the marriage express enormous surprise at their own betrayal of values, held dearly in the past.  Almost as if waking up out of a trance, they realized that they still love the partner and cannot believe what they have done, and are staggered by the enormous amount of pain that this has triggered in the other spouse.
Yet the person who has felt the hurt cannot believe that someone who has loved them could do such a devastating thing.  In such circumstances, a wife or husband will say, “I just don’t know this person anymore.  I would never have imagined that this could happen. ”
Let me describe the way in which I have come to see this now very familiar experience in many marriages whether in politicians or otherwise.  Over and over a drama happens with couples.  Here’s one typical scenario.
After the birth of the children, couples throw themselves into one of the most important roles of their lives.  One or both of them will be giving their all to creating the safety and security of a home with all of the demands of money and time it takes.  Sometimes this requires many long hours at work or in travel.  Partners give their best energy to their work and kids and simply lose touch with each other.
As this distance begins to develop, one or both partners will begin to tell themselves stories about what it means about the other.  Reaching out to the other partner who seems fixated on the Internet, they begin to feel lonely.  When one longs for touch or intimacy and the other is too tired to respond, one imagines that the other does not care.
As time passes, and overtures are ignored, the stories become justifications for giving up and pulling away --one’s best defense against the painful longing for the other partner.  So many partners turn to their electronic devices and lose themselves in the many seductive distractions found there.  Of course a major place to lose oneself can be one’s emails and Facebook. 

Article contributed by

Dr. Jim Walkup LMFT

Marriage/Couples Counselor

Learn quickly the best practices for effectively communicating, ending useless fighting, and supporting each other's search for meaning.   Don't settle for a lukewarm or worse partnership.  Addressing the problems now will usher you into building the relationship you have always wanted. 

 

 

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: DMin, LMFT
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