You are listening to Your Secret Is Safe With Me, non-judgmental talk about infidelity with Dr. Marie Murphy. If you’re looking for new perspectives on complicated relationship issues, you’ve come to the right place.
Hi everyone, happy New Year! I’m Dr. Marie Murphy. I’m a relationship coach and I help people who are engaging in anything they think counts as infidelity to deal with their feelings, clarify what they want, and make decisions about what they’re going to do. No shame, no blame, no judgments. I know a lot of the so-called advice that’s out there for people who are engaging in infidelity is little more than thinly veiled judgment, but that is not what I provide. I give you guidance and support that respects the fullness of your humanity, and the complexity of your situation. No matter what you’re doing.
As of the time of this recording, I’m pretty confident in saying that my new offerings are going to be available as of the week after this podcast episode is released. My new anonymous group coaching program, “You’re Not the Only One” will be ready for you to join as of January 10, if all goes to plan. And right now, it’s looking like everything will indeed go to plan. “You’re Not the Only One” will be an opportunity for folks who are engaging in any kind of infidelity to come together – on a conference call line, anyway – and get coached by me, and hear others get coached by me as well. It can be so tremendously helpful to hear that other people are dealing with challenges that are similar to yours, and it can be incredibly inspiring to see that other people can and do successfully deal with their infidelity situations in ways they feel great about. So this new program of mine is going to provide an opportunity for that – while also keeping your privacy protected. “You’re Not the Only One” will include group coaching calls and the recordings of the group coaching calls for you to listen to whenever you like, and it will also have videos of me teaching you things that I don’t teach on the podcast, as well as assignments to help you apply my teachings to the specifics of your unique infidelity situation.
For those of you who want the simplicity of a DIY approach, you’ll also have the option to purchase JUST the bundle of teachings and assignments, without getting access to the group coaching calls.
And I am still offering one-on-one coaching via Zoom. For more information on all of these awesome options, have a look at my website, mariemurphyphd.com.
All right. Here we are at that time of year when a lot of us are thinking about making changes. A new calendar year is in front of us. Hello, 2024. What I want to ask you to consider today is, what do you want to change about your infidelity situation, or within your infidelity situation this year? What do you want to be different? Although I have to confess that I think the whole idea that change should come with the new year is kind of ridiculous – ANY time is a good time for making changes, in my opinion – I know a lot of people love making New Years’ resolutions, and if that’s important to you, then I love that for you. And, even if you don’t HAVE to think about changes you want to make as we turn the calendar to a new year, now IS just as good a time as any to examine your infidelity situation and think about what you would like to be different about it.
If you’re happy with things as they are, then great. But if you want things to change, I encourage you to get really clear on what exactly you would like to change.
And now we’re going to talk about how you can begin to make those changes. Because make no mistake about it, if you want changes, you are going to have to take responsibility for making those changes. Sometimes we kind of hope that something will just HAPPEN, or someone else will do something, and then our infidelity situation will change, and it will change in a way that we like. And you can take that approach, if you want to. It’s totally your prerogative to just kinda hang out and see what happens. But if you really want change, I encourage you to decide that change is yours to make.
Now one of the reasons why we don’t make changes even when we know we want change, or don’t even TRY to make changes even when we know we really want change is because we think we don’t know what to DO in order to make the changes we desire. We think we don’t know what to do to resolve our infidelity situation, so we don’t try to do anything – and then we don’t resolve our infidelity situation which proves to us that we don’t know what to do to resolve our infidelity situation. Or maybe we make some half assed attempts to do something to bring about change, but these attempts were pretty half-assed indeed, and not much comes of them. So nothing changes, and we interpret that as evidence that we just don’t know what to do.
I want to suggest that changing your infidelity situation does not start with figuring out what to DO about your infidelity situation. I want to suggest that there are a few steps before that one, and one of the most important ones is this. You’ve got to decide on purpose what you’re going to think about yourself. You’ve got to decide what you are consciously and intentionally going to believe is true about yourself.
What you think about yourself MATTERS so much, and yet so many of us are not all that conscious of what we believe is true about ourselves. AND, so many of us think things about ourselves that are extremely unhelpful, and not necessarily even a little bit true. But when we get into the habit of believing a particular story about ourselves, it may become so familiar to us that it just becomes the truth of who we are, and we don’t question it – sometimes because we don’t even think it’s possible to question it.
But it is possible to question and adjust your beliefs about yourself, and it’s so important to do so, because your thinking about yourself creates feelings. And your feelings give you the capacity or the propensity to take particular kinds of actions, or refrain from taking particular kinds of actions, and your actions and inactions have definite results, or consequences!!!
So if you want to resolve your infidelity situation, you’re going to want to make sure that what you are THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF is going to help you do it.
Just to be clear, the point is never that you just start thinking differently and then all of a sudden things magically start to happen differently. That might happen sometimes, but I wouldn’t rely on that as a change making strategy. Rather, the point is that if we want to change our infidelity situation, we will have to do different things, but IN ORDER to do those different things, we have to think different thoughts.
Before we can take action – either in general, or a more specific action in particular - we’ve got to be the person who is capable of taking action. Or more specifically, we’ve got to be the person who is capable of taking actions we’ve never taken before. If we’re going to make changes, if we want to make our infidelity situations different from whatever they currently are, we have to be capable of taking actions that are different from the ones we’ve been taking, up to this point.
And the thing is, we might not yet be capable of taking actions that are different from the ones we’ve been taking, up to this point. If we were, we might have already taken different actions, and created different outcomes for ourselves.
And in order to become capable of dealing with our infidelity situations differently, we need to be able to think about ourselves differently. We need to be able to think of ourselves as capable of dealing with our infidelity situations differently.
So, I work with a lot of folks who are married, and are involved with someone else, and are very much interested in pursuing a relationship with their affair partner, but they believe they cannot leave their marriage.
If you really want to leave your marriage, your first order of business is to recognize that it’s your thinking that is keeping you from leaving your marriage. It’s not the universe forcing you to stay put. It’s not your spouse preventing you from leaving. It’s not what other people might think of you that’s keeping you in your marriage. It’s your belief that you can’t leave your marriage.
If you’re willing to recognize that, you’re off to a great start. So what next? How do you start to believe that you can leave your marriage?
First, you may want to recognize in a very official, ceremonial way that you have the capacity to change. You have the capacity to change your thinking. You have the capacity to do things that you’ve never done before. You have the capacity to do things that you never thought you would do. Just recognizing this is a big deal, and it’s often a really important prerequisite to getting into the specifics of believing how it might be possible for you to be a person who can leave their marriage.
And this may sound like a really simple thing, perhaps even so simple that it’s not even really worth bothering with, but I assure you that this is really important. After all, so many of us tell ourselves over and over that we CAN’T change. Or that we aren’t capable of making CERTAIN changes. And when you tell yourself that this is true, you may start to believe yourself.
So whatever changes you want to make in your infidelity situation, consider that any of those changes or all of those changes starts with simply deciding to believe, “I am a person who is capable of making the changes I want to make.”
Here’s the awesome thing about deciding to believe that. You can prove that to yourself QUITE easily. You can pick one small change to make, that you think is really easy to make. And it doesn’t have to have anything to do with your infidelity situation. Let’s say you set an alarm to wake up every morning. If you do, I kind of hate you. I do not need to set an alarm. I just WAKE UP. Earlier than I would like to. Every day. It’s quite awful. But that’s another story. Anyway, let’s say you use an alarm to wake you up in the mornings. You could start setting your alarm ONE MINUTE EARLIER. I’m not joking about this. You could start setting your alarm one minute earlier, and I bet that wouldn’t make too much of a dent in your sense of how much you get to sleep, or how rested you feel when you wake up. I bet that setting your alarm one minute earlier would not feel like a really hard thing to do.
I used to teach meditation, and people who were new to meditation would sometimes tell me things like, “I’m going to set my alarm an hour earlier in the mornings and I’m going to get up early and meditate for 45 minutes of that hour.” And I’d be like, why don’t you start with getting up ten minutes earlier, and meditating for like five minutes out of those ten? And they’d be like, no no no no, that’s not enough. And I’d say, okay, fine. If you want to get up an hour earlier and meditate for 45 minutes every day, do it! I’ll be happy for you if you do! And then I’d see them a week later and they’d say, “I didn’t get up early once.”
Now, is it possible to just start getting up an hour earlier and meditating for 45 minutes every morning? Sure it is. If we WANT to do this, and we believe we CAN do this, we could just make that change, starting tomorrow. The point isn’t that change has to be hard, or has to come in small increments. It doesn’t. BUT, sometimes making change in small increments serves us really, really well.
Especially if we don’t truly believe that we have the capacity to make change, we may need to prove to ourselves that we actually DO have the capacity to make change in pretty small steps. This may not seem glamorous. This may not seem exciting. This may not seem like “enough.” But I assure you that when it comes to believing in your ability to change, every little bit of belief you build is a LOT.
So if your belief in your capacity to change is a little shaky, start with something really small. Set your alarm one minute earlier for the mornings. Show yourself that you are a person who is capable of getting up one minute earlier. If you want to meditate, start with meditating for one minute a day. Or if that sounds ridiculous, try five minutes a day. You can build up to five hours a day if you want to. I’m not suggesting that you permanently limit yourself. But I am suggesting that when you’re trying to build belief in your ability to make change, you make it as easy as possible for you to succeed at first. Your first order of business is to believe in yourself and believe in your capacity to change, and if you don’t yet believe in it, you can systematically and deliberately set about showing yourself that indeed you can change.
Once you have warmed up to believing that you have the capacity to change, then you have some fuel in the tank to help you start believing that you can be the person who makes the changes in your infidelity situation that you want to make. It really helps to have this baseline belief in place before you attempt to think of yourself in a different way. Because, quite simply, thinking that you aren’t capable of change will translate into the action of not thinking about yourself differently.
Once you’re willing to truly believe, in your bones, that you CAN change, here’s the question I want you to consider. What would you need to believe differently about yourself in order to make ONE of the changes in your infidelity situation that you want to make?
To go back to my earlier example, when folks tell me that they can’t leave their marriages, they often say, “I can’t be the person who left their family,” or “I can’t be the person who failed at marriage.” If you really want to leave your marriage, those thoughts are not going to help you do it. So the question becomes, what else could you possibly think about yourself INSTEAD of those things?
For instance, is it possible that you might be a person who RECONFIGURED their family, rather than thinking of yourself as a person who LEFT their family? It’s entirely possible that you’re planning on staying very much involved in your family, even if you choose to disengage from your marriage. Getting a divorce does not have to mean you LEAVE your family in any literal or complete sense. There are many ways to be family and do family, even after extricating yourself from a marriage. There are lots of other ways that you COULD think about yourself if you leave your marriage. You don’t HAVE to think of yourself as a person who LEFT THEIR FAMILY.
And is it possible that you did not FAIL at marriage? It might indeed be possible that you didn’t fail at marriage at all. There might be a million other ways of looking at it. And, it’s also possible that it isn’t really possible to FAIL at marriage, anyway. You might decide to believe that you engaged in your marriage as best as you could – and that the fact that you don’t want to stay in your marriage forever is not an indication that you’ve done anything wrong, or your spouse has done anything wrong.
The point of thinking differently about yourself is to FEEL BETTER about yourself. And the point of feeling better about yourself is to be able to take different actions in relation to your infidelity situation. And when you take different actions, you’re able to make the changes you desire.
But it’s damn near impossible to make the changes we want to make if our thinking is not conducive to making those changes. Good luck trying to leave your marriage if you think that leaving your marriage is going to make you a person who left their family – assuming you think that being someone who left their family is not a good thing.
And good luck trying to change any of your thinking about yourself if you don’t believe you have the capacity to change. It might sound simple, and it is, but this is so important and so powerful. If you want things in your infidelity situation to be different, you have to be willing and able to do things differently, and if you want to do things differently, you have to be able to think about yourself differently.
So maybe your primary New Year’s resolution, or your keystone New Year’s resolution could be to cultivate your belief in your capacity to change.
Using our power to think intentionally is one of the greatest opportunities we have in life. If you want to learn more about how to use the power of your mind in a conscious, deliberate way so that you can deal with your infidelity situation in a way that you feel great about, let’s work together. Starting next week, unless there is some crazy unexpected tech glitch or some freak occurrence of some kind, I’ll be ready to welcome you into my group coaching program, “You’re Not the Only One” or send you off with a bundle of teachings and assignments that will help you manage your mind so that you can make the changes in your infidelity situation that you want to make! And of course, we can still work together one-on-one. For more information on all of that, head on over to my website, mariemurphyphd.com.
Thank you all so much for listening! Happy 2024. Bye for now.