3. "WHY" - LEARNING FROM THE AFFAIR
Once the unfaithful partner has full accepted responsibility for the betrayal, the couple will be free to learn about why and how they got to this place.
GOAL OF THE LEARNING PHASE
Humans are meaning-making machines. It’s our beliefs about ourselves, our loved ones and the world which create an invisible foundation upon which we construct our daily lives. It allows us to make peace with the past and find hope for our future.
But it is not enough to just make peace with what has happened. The couple must build a plan for the future based on a clear understanding of the past.
For example, if an addiction to alcohol played a significant role in having past affairs, the recovery plan should clearly address future consumption of alcohol and what drove the addiction. Often, a couple discovers that several issues contributed to having the affair. Consider a husband who grew up with a father that cheated, a home where issues were not discussed, and pornography was welcomed. In such a case, the recovery plan should separately address each issue.
The recovery plan is only as good as the understanding of the past. If important factors leading to the affair are missed, the plan will have a hole in it. Therefore, we urge you to take your time in the learning phase and get the reasons as true to reality as you possibly can.
CURIOUS AND OPEN
It is important to be curious and open as you enter this learning phase. Try not to immediately rule out explanations. Listen carefully to your spouse so you can fully consider what may have contributed to the affair. When combing through teh past for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, it is easy to feel attacked and be defensive. This will block us off from true understanding. To combat this tendency, notice your defensive, share your feelings and ask for support, and then try again to be open.
PROCESS OF LEARNING THE "WHY"
Your therapist will guide you through a series of exercises to answer the "why" questions. These will vary by couple but typically include: