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October 2008

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In this issue:

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Conscious Relationship Resources

Conscious Relationship Podcast

David Steele
Founder and CEO,
Relationship Coaching Institute

Frankie Doiron, President
Relationship Coaching Network

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Tara Kachaturoff
Editor | Partners in Life Couples News

Copyright 2008 by All rights reserved.

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Ask Our Coaches:
  After the Affair:  Is My Marriage Over?

"I don't trust him and I don't think I ever will again."

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.

Dear Coaches,

My husband is having an affair. Initially he denied it - now he admits to it. The other woman works for him as a manager. Apparently this has been going on for at least a year, maybe longer. Friends initially alerted me to this having seen him with her on several occasions, but I refused to believe them. He said he would break it off a month ago; I know he hasn't. I don't know what to do.

I haven't worked in 10 years; I've been raising our family. I feel terribly vulnerable. Is my only option divorce? How can I get him to stop what he's doing or is this really the end of our marriage? I don't trust him and I don't think I ever will again. What should I do?

Blair from Boston

Randy responds ...

Your marriage is not necessarily over, but your questions cannot be realistically answered without more information. How strong is his chemistry for you? How strong is yours for him? How capable is he of dealing constructively with you (and her) and learning from this experience? How capable are you? What are the underlying reasons for the affair? How long has it been since it has all been out in the open? Has there been progress towards understanding each other during this time?

If he has strong chemistry for you, and you for him, and if both he and you are capable of learning from this, and working through the current obvious pain, then the marriage can be saved and trust restored. I know it's hard to believe that right now. However, if either one of you lacks the chemistry, or lacks the will to learn and grow, then the marriage is probably not going to succeed. These things cannot be determined in an instant, but will need to be figured out gradually over the next few months or longer.

If the affair is primarily due to his lack of relationship skills, then the new relationship will probably not work either. If it is primarily due to his lack of chemistry for you, or your own lack of relationship skills, then the new relationship may, or may not, work. I strongly recommend getting support and relationship coaching through this difficult time!

Randy Hurlburt | | 858.455.0799

Glenn responds ...

First, I understand your feelings of vulnerability and fear of the unknown. In painful times like the one you are experiencing, it is important to not allow past pain and future anxiety to block you from making a decision that will bring you peace and happiness.

I tell clients who find themselves in similar situations they have 3 perspectives upon which to make a decision. First, you can stay in the marriage as is. The second perspective is to end the marriage. The third choice is to make a final attempt to repair the relationship.

In the process of making your decision, the best advice I could give you is to follow your inner voice and ask yourself, "If I end the marriage today, will my soul be at peace?" If not, then make a plan and set a timeframe to give everything you have to make the marriage work. If at the end of this time your husband is not willing to do whatever he needs to do, then you can begin your new journey with a peaceful soul which will allow you to find the peace, joy, happiness and love you deserve.

Glenn Cohen | | 843. 852.9828

Carol responds ...

It sounds as if you're experiencing some very natural flight or fight responses to this news. You would be expected to have some anger, doubts, a sense of vulnerability and fears. These emotions can be paralyzing, or you can use them to allow you to STOP, take your time, and examine the situation.

Often, problems within a relationship are unaddressed leaving one or both partners feeling disconnected or dissatisfied. A dramatic event within the relationship brings this to our attention. This could be a good time to have that talk and discover what has been missing or where you both have lost touch with one another.

This is also a very good time to expand your skills and involvement with the world outside of your family. When you have developed enough interests of your own and feel competent and able to function in the world, the choices you make will be clearer, based on love and joy, and will take you in the direction of abundance and growth.

Rev. Carol Baxter | | 772.785.7862

Susan responds ...

I hear how painful this is for you and that you have some really tough decisions to make. Although divorce is never the only answer, it sounds like an option you are considering.

It might be helpful to seek outside personal support such as a relationship coach or counselor for yourself, as an individual, and/or for the two of you as a couple. It may also help to research your options for an "exit strategy" with an attorney, non-profit legal organization, or financial planner, before you make any decisions -- so you can choose from a place of clarity rather than fear.

I understand that right now this may seem frightening, but you may be surprised at how much strength, wisdom, and courage you have in the midst of all of this. If you know what your options are, then you can choose your path from your truth and a place of empowerment. From that place, whatever decision you make, whether you choose to stay with your husband or move forward on your own, you'll have a clear, workable plan in place as well as the support you need for your path to be successful.

Susan Ortolano, M.A., CMRC | | 818.232.2186

Ann responds ...

Infidelity is probably the most devastating events any marriage can face. If you get through this, you will probably be able to weather any storm. In addition to the feelings you have of betrayal, it is clear you are frightened and feel vulnerable. I encourage you not to stay in the marriage for those reasons. If you stay, you must stay out of love for each other and your mutual commitment to the relationship as a couple, not out of fear of what will happen if you walk away.

You indicated you initially refused to believe your husband was having an affair. This is a common reaction - the shock and anger are often accompanied by denial. There are many reasons why affairs happen. What is important is for both of you to take responsibility for where the relationship is today and examine how and why this occurred.

Regardless of how it happens, infidelity is never acceptable. The fallout that occurs is damaging to many people, not just the couple or couples it affects. In order for your marriage to survive, he must immediately cease and desist and the two of you should seek couples coaching.

Has he told you he's sorry? Has he taken full responsibility for his actions? And, if he were to stop seeing her today, could you move past what has happened and trust him again?

If he is willing to accept full responsibility for his actions, seek coaching, and be able to truly be sorry for what has happened without placing blame on anyone but himself, and if you are able to heal and forgive him over time, gradually rebuilding the trust, you have a chance.

There are many books written on this subject. I would recommend, "After The Affair," by Janis Spring. In addition, I urge you to seek couples coaching.

Ann Robbins  |  |  954.561.4498

Feature Article:
Affairs: What You Need to Know

By Michele Parrish

Peggy Vaughan, author of the Monogamy Myth, estimates that 60% of husbands and 40% of wives will have an affair at some time in their marriage. Michele Parrish, RCI Coach, discusses what affairs are, why people have them, and what you can do if you are affected by one.

Tara Kachaturoff

Tara: Michele, how would you define an affair?

Michele Parrish: People define affairs differently. The definition of an affair is somewhat subjective based upon perspectives and beliefs. Generally, experts agree that an affair occurs when one party in a committed relationship engages in a sexual relationship, or strong emotional attachment, with a third party. The relationship may be a marriage or one where some level of commitment or monogamy exists. Some do not include emotional affairs in their definition.

In reality though, emotional affairs are just as damaging, and because often thought benign, potentially more damaging than sexual affairs. Emotional affairs are terribly difficult to end because they are less obvious to the participants and that can make it more challenging for a committed couple to resolve issues.

Another twist to the definition includes affairs with children, wherein a parent becomes so absorbed with the couple's children that he or she ignores the spouse and intimacy issues result. For the purposes of this interview, however, we will restrict our definition of affairs to sexual and emotional relationships with a party outside of the committed relationship.

Tara: So why do men and women have affairs?

Michele Parrish: There is no single reason why people have affairs. Even within a single affair there may be many reasons why it occurred. A few of many reasons people have affairs include: a desire to escape or exit a painful relationship, attempts to fill unmet needs in the current relationship, a desire for attention or excitement, a desire to validate one's attractiveness, or a desire to punish a partner.

Affairs often begin when a spouse becomes more emotionally intimate with someone outside of the marriage. That person might be someone they work with, a person they met on the internet, a neighbor or even their spouse's friend. Affairs at work are on the rise due to the increasing numbers of women in the workplace. Bonds between coworkers can become deeply emotional, eventually evolving into sexual relationships.

Affairs are complex and society tends to oversimplify them. "Pop" media glamorizes affairs, rarely covering the painful story behind them. The truth is that it takes much perspective and personal development work to heal the many relationships affected by an affair.

Tara: Do men and women have affairs for the same reasons?

Michele Parrish: While both men and women can have affairs for the many reasons I just mentioned, it is more common for men to have affairs to satisfy sexual needs. However, purely sexual affairs can happen in both genders. To reduce the probability of an affair, have frequent discussions about how your needs and those of your partner are being met in the current relationship.

Tara: Are there any early warning signs (red flags) that you might be dating, committed, or married to someone who would be more inclined to have an affair?

Michele Parrish: While one cannot accurately predict if another person will have an affair, there are some signs that a person is having an affair or is susceptible to one. Early warning signs include a partner's emotional or physical distance and changes in their typical behavior. Common red flags that an affair could be happening include: a committed partner becoming more interested in his/her appearance, the partner being less available or unaccounted for during periods of time, unusual phone calls or text messages, and an unexplainable change in time spent on the phone, the computer or with email.

Often, though, there are few or subtle warning signs and even seemingly contradictory signs of an affair. For example, the partner having the affair might become more critical of the other as a means of vilifying their partner and justifying their behavior. The frequency of sex may unexplainably increase or decrease. Sometimes the cheating partner attempts to be more loving or do more acts of service as a way to cope with shame and guilt. And sometimes the cheating partner is critical of others in known actual affairs or when an affair is portrayed in the media because these things bring forth feelings of guilt.

When entering into a committed relationship, it helps to talk about what commitment means to each of you. Commitment can range from, "I'm committed until it gets tough," to "I'm committed for life no matter what." Be sure you know where your partner stands, especially before committing to marriage.

You might also ask your partner if they have ever had an affair in the past, and if so, how it started and why. Gauge what level of awareness and learning they had from the affair. Ask if they are aware if either of their parents had affairs, and if so, how it has impacted them and their views of monogamy.

While there is no sure way to predict if someone will have an affair, you can help prevent affairs through open lines of communication, including sometimes difficult discussions about attraction to other people. Generally, if you seek a partner who is mature, stable, aware of their needs and emotions, and exhibits good communication and relationship skills, you are less likely to have a relationship susceptible to an affair.

Tara: If you suspect your lover or spouse of having an affair, what should you do first? And then, what next? Is there anything you should avoid doing?

Michele Parrish: The first thing to do if you suspect your partner is to do your best to open up lines of communication in the relationship. Ask your partner how they feel your relationship is going. Are their needs being met?

Avoid accusing, condemning or getting emotional as this will shut down critical communication channels. Next, tell your partner you are concerned that there is something not working in the relationship and explain what is making you feel that way (their absences, their lack of affection, etc.). Keep asking questions and delving deeper.

Try to reach a point where your spouse opens up and shares honestly with you. Again, avoid accusing, judging, yelling or anything that will cause your partner to shut down communication. A third party, such as a counselor or coach, may be needed if defensiveness arises or communications become heated.

Either alone or with assistance, it is imperative to attempt to create a safe environment for discussion. Once a safe environment is established, ask your partner the question directly. If you receive an affirmative response, see if your partner will commit to attending counseling or coaching with you. If you receive a negative response, let the conversation sit for a while. Continue to monitor your partner's behaviors.

If you continue to have concern, seek assistance. Affairs are difficult territory to navigate. You need to build a solid support system around you to make it through the rough waters. Hire a professional counselor or coach to help guide and support you through what lies ahead.

Tara: What can we learn if we're faced with an affair?

Michele Parrish: Like all major life challenges, affairs present individuals with opportunities to learn and grow. You need not be a victim even if your partner was unfaithful. Choose personal growth by learning more about the nature of affairs and what it takes to create and maintain a healthy committed relationship. You can use your new awareness and skills to save the broken relationship or to exit and build a new, healthy relationship that is founded in trust, respect, integrity, and true love.

Copyright © 2008 by Michele Parrish. All rights reserved in all media.

Michele Parrish
Michele Parrish
is Certified Professional Coach and Relationship Specialist. To learn more about affairs, listen to Michele's radio interview at  Go To:  Content Library:  7/31/08 - "Healing From Divorce -The Myths of Affairs". 513.847.0609


Bonus Article:
To Win ... You Must Surrender

By Glenn Cohen

I have been percolating on the word "surrender" recently. Naturally, as a man of awareness, I began my journey seeking the advice of someone with infinite knowledge of the English language, Mr. Daniel Webster.

Surrender:  A Word of Many Meanings

I learned that surrender is a transitive verb, whatever that means. Here are the definitions that I found. To yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand -- as in "surrendered the fort." To give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another. To give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner. To give (oneself) over to something (as an influence). To give oneself up into the power of another

When I think about the word "surrender," the first image that comes to mind is a person waving a white flag. I visualize a soldier with a sad, tired look on their face, feeling the pain of defeat and loss. We think of surrender in a negative connotation, like failure or as the act of giving away our power or giving up to someone else.

I recently read Eckhart Tolle's new book, "A New Earth." I came across the word surrender and it triggered something in me. I resonated with the thought for a few weeks before I was able to connect the dots. It led me to another wonderful new awareness that I want to share with you.

My Definition

With all due respect to Mr. Webster, I would like to add a new definition to the word "surrender" in regards to the relationship we have with others and ourselves. Those who I have coached or who've read my book know that I always like to look at life from new perspectives. I would like to ask you to allow me the liberty to help you do the same.

When we surrender, we make the choice to put on a new pair of glasses and look at the world through a different lens. Surrendering is a way of being that has no obligations attached to it. Surrendering is a state of mind; a new way to live life. It is about being present in the moment with no expectation for anything in return.

Letting Go is Not Giving Up

The white flag we wave signals the surrendering within ourselves. It represents the end of our inner cycle of conflict that evolves from our journey when we are able to see with new awareness and choose to adopt new perspectives and attitudes. Surrendering is not an external act of giving up; it is not defeat, failure or associated with anything negative. It is simply succumbing to letting go of the pain of the past and the anxiety of the future.

When we surrender to the one we love, we make a conscious choice to drop our shield of defensiveness and lay down our weapons. When we surrender, we do not defend and blame, but instead choose to own and change. When we surrender, instead of saying "This is what you need to do for me," you say, "What can I do for you?"

When we surrender, we have the epiphany that it is not about "I, me and mine" but about "you, us and them." When we surrender, we choose to replace the word "I" with the word "You." Let me say it in clear and concise terms. "I can't make it about me, if I want to BE a WE!"

When we surrender, we offer ourselves unselfishly and unconditionally to do whatever we are humanly capable of doing to make our partner feel safe, loved and cared for – regardless of what the other person says or does. Now, of course, we would not jump off a bridge if they asked us to and we certainly would not maintain this new awareness if our partner has an affair.

Shifting Our Energy Can Change Our Perspective

This new view of ourselves is a deep spiritual experience that leads to a dramatic shift in our energy, focus and attitude. The crossing over this bridge creates the most freeing feeling ever inside of ourselves. We look, see, feel and love in ways we never have before. Why, because we are not blocking ourselves anymore. We have found the key to the door of our bunker. In essence, we got out of our own way.

The act of surrender ends the epic battle we have within ourselves between the forces of fear and love. The second law of emotionally intelligent relationships is: fear and love cannot co-exist in the same space. When you surrender to the forces of your inner voice, you are free to let go of your fears and allow your soul to finally, finally, be at peace.

Next Steps

So, the question from the journey is: What do you need to surrender to that would end the inner conflict and bring you to a place of inner peace and harmony?

Copyright © 2008 by Glenn Cohen. All rights reserved in all media.

Glenn CohenGlenn Cohen is a certified coach and the author of The Journey from "I-TO-WE". He coaches individuals, couples and works with companies across the country. He conducts workshops, speeches and seminars for companies, civic, religious organizations and other associations regarding how to Create Emotionally Intelligent Relationships at home, at work, and within the self. He trains coaches, healthcare professionals, religious counselors, and corporations on the use of his program. 843.852.9828

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