“I think everybody longs to be loved, and longs to know that he or she is lovable. Consequently, the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving."
- Fred Rogers
Longing to be Loved
I’ve had one affair, and my husband has had two. I’m not proud of this, but I share it with couples because it’s important to understand that this can happen, and you can recover.
In all three instances the reason for the affair was this – the person who went outside the marriage no longer felt loved or lovable and could see no way to change that. We had tried to talk with our partner about our feelings and were shut down by vicious attack and lack of empathy. The intense fantasy and infatuation of the affair served to rebuild our sense of being lovable.
I’m not here to justify the affairs – in fact I can say without a doubt that this is one of the worst possible things you can do to yourself and to your marriage. If you’re contemplating this, or feeling unlovable, seek couples counseling and get your feelings out. DON’T go the affair route.
But let me focus on the other side of Rogers’ quote, ‘the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know they’re loved and capable of loving.’ Compassion, generosity of spirit, giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, encouraging them to love by example…these are the gifts you can give your partner and yourself. It can be hard to find this after years of struggle – particularly if your partner is regularly angry and/or hurtful.
But don’t give up. In interactions with your partner, ask yourself these questions – ‘how can I be kind?’ and ‘how can I show my partner s/he is loved?’
If either of us had been doing that at the time, none of the affairs would have happened.
I comment on "regularly angry and/or hurtful" interactions in this post ... Need help with this? Registration for the Fall session of Diminishing Anger in Your Relationship is OPEN. Class size is limited, so don't delay.
For those in marriages impacted by ADHD
You can find great resources for couples impacted by ADHD at adhdmarriage.com, including free:
- Online treatment overview;
- Downloadable chapters of my books;
- A community forum with other couples facing similar issues;
- A large number of blog posts on various topics;
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