This is a continuation of my blog series titled From Discovery Through Recovery. I will begin with a deeper explanation of the power of connection because, upon discovery, a life partner is typically trying to make sense of a circumstance that seems senseless.
As individuals and couples, we are designed for intimate connections, with life commitment and marriage being the most intimate of those connections. I like to explain it using the concept of power. We have in us an inborn, God-given, DNA-structured design and desire to be the most powerful intimate connection in our partners’ life. Discovering that someone or something else has become powerful for an intimate partner can shake the very foundation of how you see yourself, your relationship, and life itself.
Connection in an intimate relationship can be understood in several realms: spiritual, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, visual, audible, physical, sensual, and sexual. In my experience, few couples intentionally pursue deeply knowing each other in each of these realms. Dr. Gordon Neufeld in his six stages of connection development defines the highest-level connection as “being known.” Dr. Curt Thompson identifies that within us we have an “intrinsic desire to be known.” Like many in the field, I like to call it feeling felt, which is “the sense that we exist in the mind of another person” (T. Franklin Murphy). In order to exist in the mind of an intimate partner, we need to be known deeply. When partners have not experienced this kind of knowing each other and being known by each other at a deep level, vulnerabilities often surface and create the opportunity for a power outside the primary relationship to emerge and grow. In a deeply connected relationship, the vulnerability of falling to the temptation of connecting with another person or behavior can be experienced as low. But when primary connection experience is low, a power outside the primary relationship may be experienced high enough for a person to fall to the temptation.
In the process of discovery through recovery making sense of the power of connection can help betrayed partners feel empowered to work toward recovery. Each individual and couple should proceed in their recovery in a customized way with a highly trained and highly specialized therapist as a guide.
This blog is a multi-part series intended to outline the basic principles of the process of recovery from the point of discovery that I use to help people cope with discovery and achieve recovery. This is not intended to be comprehensive, but merely some basic principles. The order of presentation does not indicate the order of your recovery process.