Infidelity, like the emerging Obama stimulus package, impacts many. One
only hopes the stimulus will be far better understood than marital infidelity, if the American Journal of Family Therapy is
to be believed.
Then, too, we might all wish that infidelity would occasionally wind up as well as it has for actress-writer
Isabel Gillies, as she recounts in "An Affair to Remember" in the February Vogue (this hereby marks the first time Vogue,
the American Journal of Family Therapy and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" are deservedly mentioned in the same sentence).
Couples Work Together Toward the Forgiveness of Marital Infidelity: Therapists' Perspectives" is the handiwork of three Florida
State University academics whose somewhat clunkily-expressed aim was "to explore how therapists treat infidelity and work
toward forgiveness with couples presenting with extramarital involvement."
Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that
there is far, far less research on this subject than one would assume, especially in a culture so obsessed with finding easy
recipes for contentment.
Spencer Olmstead, Ryan Blick and Lilbourne Mills III interviewed ten marital and family therapists
and, it's apparent, brought distinctly academic methodologies to bear. "Major categories, themes, and subthemes were generated
from open, axial, and selective coding analyses. Participating therapists described treating marital infidelity and incorporating
"Inﬁdelity treatment included assessing family of origin and relationship history,
and discussing mutual acceptance of responsibility. When working toward forgiveness, therapists described: (a) assessing client
understanding, (b) psychoeducation, (c) clariﬁcation, (d) client languaging, and (e) time. Implications for research
and treatment are discussed."
Well, I'll save you a somewhat challenging effort and inform that there are no satisfying
"Inﬁdelity is a couples problem that has far reaching and often damaging effects. As such, it
is one that therapists ﬁnd difficult to treat in therapy. Although research on the topic of inﬁdelity and working
toward forgiveness is limited, this study helps provide a thicker description of the process and interventions some therapists
use while helping Forgiveness of Marital Inﬁdelity couples work through the wake of inﬁdelity and move towards
a place of forgiveness."
So, in case you didn't assume same, be apprised that you best say you're sorry a whole lot
of times if you screw around and get caught. And, even then, you might not be as lucky as actress-author Gillies, who plays
macho Detective Stabler's wife on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
In February Vogue, she crafts a poignant
account of how her philosophy professor husband betrayed her and their two sons while he taught at a small Midwest college.
She'd thought she had a blissful situation, leaving New York City for Cambridge, Mass., then Ohio. She worked on an organic
farm, got a teaching job herself, shopped at the farmers' market, went to concerts at the conservatory, showed up at anti-Iraq
War protests at the college, and used one of the great perks of academic life, long vacations, to summer in Maine with her
spouse and young boys.
But "just at the moment when life seemed too good to be true," her husband "stopped it dead
in its tracks" by falling in love with a colleague. For a bit, she thinks that it's a momentary crisis. "We had endured rough
spots, but doesn't everyone?" They'd had a hectic few years, with multiples moves and two kids. "We were feeling the burn,
but we were a team. We were married and we were making it work."
Not really. He was serious and had found someone,
she now realizes, better suited to him. With anger and frustration, she packed up the kids and returned to live with her parents
in New York. She was 35 years old and a single mom. But, then, she stumbled into meeting another guy and fell in love, partaking
in an old-fashioned courtship. Things have turned out well both for her and for the ex, who comes off as about as sensitive
a cheating spouse as one could find. The ex said that he and his new wife raised a glass to Gillies the night of the second
wedding. "I believed him because we are still a family, just in a different shape."