How to Save A Marriage After An Affair

Is the best way to make it work after an affair to totally end your relationship? Yes. But that doesn’t mean you cant make it work. Surprised? Check out this video I did for Kids In The House:

YouTube Preview Image

Check out my Dating Skills podcast, “Recovering a Relationship after Cheating” with Dr. Tammy Nelson
Here’s an excerpt, but check out the whole thing for a great talk with Angel Donovan.

I think this is the first time in history you can cheat on your partner lying in bed next to them. We have a whole new definition of monogamy. I mean, you get married and you don’t say, “I promise to love, honor and tell you about all my Facebook friends and let you know when I’m tweeting too much with one person over another.” It’s a whole different definition of marriage, of committed partnership.

For over two decades now, we’ve still had the same amount of divorce in our culture; we’re still hovering at around 50%. But so many things have changed. We’re getting married at 28 instead of 18. We’re defining monogamy in a whole bunch of different ways. People know what polyamory means: “poly-” means “many”, “amory” means love – many love.

So we have this whole different language around marriage. We’ve never had the variety of possibilities that we have now. And it’s different than swinging in the ‘70s or having an open marriage. George and Nena O’Neill wrote the book Open Marriage in the ‘70s.

I think our focus on being parents and taking a village to raise our children will definitely change the way relationships look out of necessity. The technical piece of our lives, the sort of multi-attentive way we look at life, has changed the way we have this extended adolescence, so you don’t wait until marriage to have sex anymore because you’re 28 instead of 18. That’s changed how we approach marriage.

There were a lot of different ways to experience variety and excitement without breaking your monogamy bond. Pornography has never been as accessible as it is now, and perhaps people are using that to stay monogamous. It’s just a whole different twist on Internet monogamy that we’ve never had before.

So we can define it in ways we’ve never had to define it before. If that’s the case, if there are so many different kinds of relationships, we have to talk about it with your partner because there’s this implicit assumption that your kind of monogamy is the same kind as mine.

For more dating advice: Episode 71 of Dating Skills Review with Dr. Tammy Nelson

Infidelity in Marriage; What is cheating?

A wife finds her husband looking at pornography. A husband learns that his wife has been sleeping with their neighbor. A woman admits to her new boyfriend that she still talks on the phone regularly with her ex. Which of these examples involves infidelity?

The answer is: sometimes, all of them; other times, none of them. What defines infidelity first and foremost is the presence of a secret outside the relationship, whether online or in person, sexual or emotional. The common element in all affairs is the presence of dishonesty.

In this brief video clip from my interview with Rich Simon, editor of the Psychotherapy Networker, I explain how porn-watching habits, sexual liaisons, and even meeting an old flame for coffee can be considered infidelity. The definition of cheating depends on the level of disclosure and a couple’s prearranged definitions of monogamy—and where the indiscretion falls on the monogamy continuum.

YouTube Preview Image

In the next Psychotherapy Networker Webcast series The Changing Face of Marriage, I will share tips on how to help struggling couples recover from affairs. This series also covers everything you need to understand about the new norms surrounding intimacy, marriage, divorce, boundaries, privacy, and related issues. Plus you get “how-to” guidance on working confidently and effectively in a landscape of changing attitudes from leading innovators Esther Perel, William Doherty, Pat Love, Terry Real, Joe Kort and myself.

Remember: use code NELSON30 to redeem the extended early bird discount!

Are you in bed with a narcissist?

Working with Your Most Challenging Couples: Anger, Narcissism and Countertransference met today. Wendy Behary, LCSW, the Author of “Disarming the Narcissist… Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed” gave a fascinating presentation about how narcissists have a hard time maintaining intimacy because they choose a partner who makes them look good, or who mirrors their need for approval. But when they are confronted with the need for true emotional intimacy, they shut down. Unless their partner makes them feel good, they may withdraw into their core of shame and will do anything to avoid feeling their own inadequacy and defectiveness. In their sex lives, performance becomes a way to head off real intimacy and connection, and a way to avoid being seen. Sex is a platform for showing off prowess and can be used to disappear emotionally.

Wendy also talked about how narcissists can get overly involved in pornography, because it is quick, fast and they don’t have to feel empathy to use it. I added that in my experience working with narcissistic clients, porn can lead to real time affairs, where entitlement and a dismissiveness for the partners feelings can make couples therapy difficult, and affair recovery even harder. An attitude of “I deserved this” or this is “your fault” can contaminate the treatment.

Wendy has some great interventions for working with Narcissists in treatment, and for dealing with our own countertransference as well. Send in your questions and cases, and get all the downloadable recordings and handouts when you sign up now. To learn more about this series, and other Teleseminars with Dr Tammy Nelson, click here.

Pornography doesn’t make you a sex addict

Last week I attended the Lifestyle Interventions Conference in Las Vegas.

I talked about erotic recovery after an affair. There were a lot of questions after my talk about pornography and how erotic imagery on the computer can turn masturbation into a compulsive repetitive act that drains sexual energy out of the marriage. That’s true for some people. But it doesn’t have to be that way for all couples. Looking at pornography occasionally doesn’t make you a sex addict. In fact, some people use it to stay monogamous. They avoid the dilemma of long term committed partnership that can lead to boredom and sexual shutdown and they stay true to their partner by finding variety and adventure online without cheating in real time with a person outside of their marriage or committed partnership. But for those couples where a real time affair does occur, seeking out a therapist who has experience helping couples move through the stages of recovery is important. Both partners can feel frustrated and even hopeless after one partner cheats and they may need professional help. Find a therapist who can help. Click here: for more info on Intensives for couples after cheating.

To find out more about the three phases of recovery after an affair, read my article at Recovery.Org: The 3 Phases of Erotic Recovery After Infidelity

12 Types of Sex You Have in Your Late 20s

Finally, an article in Cosmo about sex that embraces intimacy and connection and isn’t just about performance and looking good in lingerie. This is comforting to me and I agree with everything they say. And I am not even quoted in this one.

12 Types of Sex You Have in Your Late 20s