Your Secret is Safe with Me with Dr. Marie Murphy | The Easy Hard Paradox

173: The Easy Hard Paradox

Dec 27, 2023

Some people come to me and say that their infidelity situation is hard to deal with. Now, while I totally empathize with this, I do have to follow up with a “but”…

I believe that “difficulty” is not an absolute truth or fact but rather a matter of our thinking. In this episode, I discuss the many ways we can think differently about difficult situations. I revisit my concept of the “think, feel, act” cycle and explore how you can reshift your thinking around the idea of difficulty.

When we don’t deal with the root of the problem, we usually prolong our troubles. And to not prolong our troubles, we simply need to start facing them. Tune in for some tough coaching that comes from a loving place and learn that the best way we can show ourselves that we can do hard things is to do hard things.


Starting in early 2024, I am offering additional ways to work with me. I'm offering a program called You’re Not the Only One, including teachings on dealing with infidelity situations, video courses and assignments, and even group coaching calls with other people just like you (while also maintaining your privacy!). Stay tuned and sign up for my mailing list in the pop-up for all the details!


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The purpose of dealing with difficulty.

  • How to deal with the difficulty of your infidelity situation.

  • The importance of understanding that “easy” and “hard” are a matter of our thinking.

  • How not dealing with the root of the problem will usually prolong our troubles.

  • When it does make sense to put off dealing with the difficulty of your infidelity situation.


Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

  • If you’re ready to take this topic deeper in a confidential and compassionate environment, you can schedule an introductory coaching session with me, Dr. Marie Murphy, by clicking here!


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, 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.  When you are ready to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that’s truly right for you, I can help you do it.  

Starting in January I will be ready to welcome you into my new anonymous group coaching program called, “You’re Not the Only One.”  This program will include group coaching calls held on a good old conference call line, not over Zoom, so your privacy will be protected, but you will have the opportunity to hear other folks talking about their infidelity situations and getting coached by me.  Infidelity is incredibly common, but it’s also incredibly stigmatized, and one of the very unfortunate implications of that is that folks who are cheating often feel really isolated and alone.  So this program I’m going to be offering is a step towards giving people who are cheating an opportunity to see that they are absolutely NOT alone, and a chance to see that the challenges they’re experiencing are shared by others.  On these group coaching calls you will of course have the opportunity to get coached yourself, in addition to benefiting from hearing the coaching I offer others.  You’re Not the Only One will also include videos of me teaching you tools and concepts that I don’t share on the podcast.  It will also include assignments for you to apply the teachings I offer you to the specifics of your unique infidelity situation.  Once you join the program, you’ll have access to these materials all the time, for as long as the program exists, so you’ll really be able to work at your own pace, and on your own schedule, which is pretty great.

And for those of you who want the simplicity of a DIY approach, I’ll be offering a bundle of my teachings and assignments, without the option to join the group coaching calls.  You can learn more about all of this, and sign up to be notified when these offerings become available through my website,

I will also still be offering one-on-one coaching for those of you who want to work with me individually.  Sometimes the best thing in the world is to have your coach’s undivided attention for an hour every week, with all the focus on you and your unique infidelity situation.  If you’d like to work with me one-on-one, you can sign up for an introductory coaching session with me through my website.  All one-on-one sessions are held via Zoom, so we can work together no matter where you’re located.  I can’t wait to meet you. 

One of the things that people love to say about their infidelity situations is that they’re really hard to deal with.  And folks sometimes have a million reasons WHY their infidelity situation is hard to deal with.  Or, maybe they only think that one or two or three aspects of their infidelity situation are hard to deal with, but those aspects of the situation are REALLY hard to deal with.  And on the one hand, I’m totally sympathetic to this.  I know that when people experience their infidelity situations as HARD TO DEAL WITH, they’re experiencing this to be true, and that can seem like a very difficult thing.

But. Here comes the but.  We’ve got to remember that whether or not something is easy or hard is a matter of our thinking.  It’s never an objective fact that something is DIFFICULT TO DEAL WITH.  It’s okay to think that some things in life are difficult to deal with, that’s certainly fair, but we’ve got to remember that difficulty is not some absolute truth that we’re observing.  If we think something is difficult, that’s our opinion, and, if we repeat our opinion over and over and over to ourselves enough times, it becomes a TRUTH for us.  And that might not be a good thing.  Sometimes, when we think something is hard, we think there’s a problem.  Or we think we shouldn’t have to do the hard thing.  Or we think that even if we tried to do the hard thing, we wouldn’t be able to do it.

Now, I’m well aware that not everyone thinks that hard or difficult equals bad.  Some people are interested in doing hard things, or difficult things.  Sometimes, anyway.  So if you have positive associations with difficulty, then go ahead and think about your infidelity situation as difficult to deal with.  If it HELPS you to think that way, then that’s great.

But on the other hand, if thinking of your infidelity situation as difficult is NOT helping you deal with it in a way that you feel good about, some adjustments in your thinking are probably in order.  So I’m going to suggest some ways that we can think differently about difficulty, because shifting our thinking about difficulty is sometimes an essential component of successfully dealing with situations we consider difficult.  So often, when we think we have a difficult situation on our hands, we think that we have to figure out what to DO about it.  But if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you’ve heard me talk about the think-feel-act cycle before, which holds that it’s our thinking about our circumstances that creates our feelings, and it is our feeling state which gives us the capacity or the propensity to take particular actions, or refrain from taking particular actions.  And what this means is, if we’re thinking something is really difficult, or is going to be really difficult, and we don’t think of difficulty as a good thing, that’s probably going to create some emotions that make it harder for us to effectively address the situation at hand.  And when we don’t effectively address the situation at hand, because we believe it is difficult, we may end up proving to ourselves, by not successfully dealing with the situation, that the situation is difficult to deal with.  Are you following me?  Good.

The implication of this is that dealing with our thoughts about difficulty is super important if we are going to successfully deal with situations that we think are difficult.  Kinda meta, and really important.

So how exactly can we shift our thinking about difficulty, or about our infidelity situation being difficult to deal with?  Here are some options. 

You COULD just decide to drop the idea that dealing with your infidelity situation is hard.  What if that just wasn’t a concept within your view of the world?  What if there was no such thing as difficulty?  You COULD take that approach, if you wanted to.  If you DON’T want to, that’s fine.  I think it’s totally fair for us to consider some things in life difficult to deal with, IF we can relate to difficulty in a productive way.  More on that soon.  But I suggest this option because I think it’s SO important to underscore the fact that all of our thinking about whether something is difficult or hard is totally optional.  And if thinking that something is hard isn’t helping you in any discernable way, you could just decide that “hard” or “difficult” aren’t concepts you’re going to engage with.  Instead of thinking of your infidelity situation as “hard,” you could decide to think of it as an exciting challenge.  Or as an interesting project.  It is really is an option to just stop thinking about things in terms of easy and hard.    

Another option is to drop the idea that something shouldn’t be hard, or difficult.  Sometimes that’s the bigger problem.  We think that something is hard, and we think it SHOULDN’T be hard, or shouldn’t be AS hard as it is.  Right?  We don’t – or at least we think we don’t – have a problem with difficulty in general, but we do think that our infidelity situation shouldn’t be as hard for us to resolve as we think it is.  But what if that’s not true?  What if your infidelity situation SHOULD be really challenging to resolve, and challenging in a way that you experience as difficult or hard, at times?

Crazy, right?  I know.

You could decide to believe that your infidelity situation IS hard to deal with, and that it’s SUPPOSED to be hard to deal with, or it’s a GOOD THING that it’s hard to deal with.  Although easy and hard are a matter of our thinking, that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to think of something as hard.  You might think of some things as REALLY hard, and that might be YOUR TRUTH.  And that is totally fair, and fine, and perhaps even helpful – IF you think of difficulty in a way that serves you.

So if you do believe that your infidelity situation is a hard thing to deal with, why might that be a good thing?  Or a productive thing, or a transformative thing, or a beneficial thing?  If the universe is kind, why is it okay that your infidelity situation is hard for you to deal with?  Why might it even be a great thing that your infidelity situation is hard for you to deal with?  How could THAT be true?

You might choose to believe that we encounter challenges in life for the purpose of growing and evolving.  You might choose to believe that the things about your infidelity situation that you consider difficult to deal with present opportunities to learn more about who you are and who you want to become.  You might choose to believe that the challenges we face in life offer us the opportunity to do our karmic business, or do things we most need to do in this lifetime, or learn the things we most need to learn in this lifetime.  You might choose to believe that challenges within your infidelity situation offer you the opportunity to become more of an adult, spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise.  What does it mean to be an adult?  Great question.  When I think about adulthood in the ideal sense, I think of it as being a state in which we take responsibility for the things we have the power to control within our experience of life.  And that’s something we’re continuously learning how to do.  It’s not something we just KNOW or just ARE when we turn 18 or 21 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 70 or whatever.  It’s something we’re continuously learning, or continuously getting opportunities to learn.

What if life is supposed to be challenging sometimes?  What if relationships are supposed to be challenging sometimes?  What if we need these challenges in order to experience the growth or transformation we most need to experience?  What if we need challenges in order to refine our sense of our own power and purpose?

Or, more specifically, what if we need challenges in our romantic lives, or our relationship lives, in order to refine our sense of what we want in this area of our lives, and to step into a fuller version of our capacity to create what we want in this area of our lives?  Right?

Now here’s the best part, or what I think is the best part.  When we give up on the idea that something should be easier, it gets easier.  When we stop thinking that something shouldn’t be hard, it becomes less hard.  I am not joking about this, and I promise you that when you experience this for yourself, it will change your life.  When we stop resisting difficulty, we’re in a much better position to actually do the difficult thing.  And then when we do the difficult thing, we show ourselves that we can do difficult things.  Or maybe by being willing to do things we think are difficult, we show ourselves that things aren’t always as difficult as we think they are.  And this can really shift our relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with other people, and our relationship with our life as a whole.  Which is pretty awesome.

It's also really important to remember that although dealing with something we consider difficult can be “hard,” or challenging, it’s also really hard to NOT DEAL with things we consider difficult.  If you have been in your infidelity situation for any length of time and you’ve been telling yourself that it’s too hard to deal with, you know what I’m talking about.  You know that not dealing with your situation in any sort of intentional way can be VERY unpleasant in its own right.  

Sometimes it’s easier to see why this is the case when we look at an example that doesn’t have anything to do with infidelity.  So let’s talk about what happens when we have an ongoing problem with something pretty essential in our lives.  Let’s say you have a refrigerator/freezer, and it isn’t working properly.  And let’s assume that you actually make USE of this appliance duo.  I know some people have little use for their fridge and freezer, and may not care if these appliances aren’t working properly.  But let’s assume you not only use your fridge for food, you also are on medication that you need to keep refrigerated.  So having a functioning fridge is pretty important for you.

But even though having a functioning fridge is pretty important for you, you also don’t want to deal with your malfunctioning fridge.  Let’s say the fridge is not holding temperature, and it’s leaking, and it’s doing some other weird stuff.  I haven’t had to deal with a malfunctioning fridge in a REALLY long time, thankfully, so I don’t have any great examples of what can go wrong with a fridge on the top of my mind.  But let’s just say it’s leaking and making a mess on a daily basis, and it isn’t staying cold.  And you’re like, this sucks, this is a total problem, and it’s going to be really hard to deal with it.

Why exactly would it be hard to deal with your malfunctioning fridge?  Who knows.  Maybe you don’t think you have time to call someone to take a look at it.  Maybe you just got your fridge, and you’re pissed off that a brand new appliance isn’t working as it should be, and you’re just so mad about that that you can’t summon the will to call the place you bought it from, or look up the warranty info, or do whatever it is you’d need to do to deal with the problem.  It all just seems like too much of a pain in the ass to you, so you don’t do anything.

But in the meantime, you’re having to deal with a fridge that’s peeing on your kitchen floor every day.  AND, not only that, you’re having to deal with food getting spoiled.  And perhaps most importantly of all, you’re having to throw out medication that you need to take, and get it replaced – and not only does that take time and energy, but sometimes you’ve missed doses because you didn’t get a replacement dose on time.  And this might have noticeable consequences for your health.

All of that might be super inconvenient – or worse – to deal with.  But yet, you may have it in your head that finding a real solution for the malfunctioning refrigerator would be so much worse than dealing with effects of the malfunctioning refrigerator.  You might truly believe that it’s easier to get your medication replaced than to potentially have to get a new fridge.  So you don’t deal with the fridge, and that might seem like a win in a way, but you continuously deal with other challenges that could be resolved by being willing to deal with the fridge.  

Let’s take the analogy a little further.  Sometimes people are like, “Well, I don’t want to deal with the fridge because I’m afraid the repair will cost a lot of money, or maybe they won’t be able to get the part right away, and then I won’t have a working fridge for a few days!”  Or they’ll say, “I don’t want to find out what’s wrong with the fridge because I might have to get a replacement, and I don’t want to deal with the cost or hassle of that.”  But yet, the day-to-day hassles and costs of not having a fully functioning fridge continue to mount.  Every time you throw out food and medicine and replace it, you are spending not only money, but time.  Your precious time.  Right.

Now on the one hand, I get it.  Sometimes it truly seems so much easier to deal with the difficulties that we don’t think of as all that bad, rather than to take on a difficulty that seems like a really big deal, even though doing so has the potential to relieve us of ALL of the difficulties.  But what we so often fail to see is that by attempting to NOT deal with the root of a problem, we usually prolong our troubles.  When we don’t step up to the plate and deal with situations we consider difficult, we may prolong AND exacerbate our suffering.  If you’re going to have to get a new fridge, you’re going to have to get a new fridge.  Avoiding getting a new fridge for six weeks before you actually get one does not save you any time or money or hassle.  Your mind may try to tell you that it will.  Our minds do such interesting things, at times!  But when we step back and take a clear look at the situation, we can see that by being willing to do something that seems difficult now, rather than later, we may deal with a lot less difficulty on the whole.

And of course, this is how it so often goes with infidelity situations.  When we think it’s going to be really hard to deal with our infidelity situation, we put off dealing with it in an intentional way, and we just try to make it from one day to the next or one week to the next because we think that’s somehow easier than deciding to take the whole thing on as a project that we’re going to attend to.  But when we do that, we still have to deal with a lot of things that are NOT EASY.  In other words, dealing with your infidelity situation could be considered “hard” – that is an optional thought, but you might consider it a reasonable thought to think – but NOT dealing with your infidelity situation is also hard.  Sometimes REALLY hard.

People also often assume that there will be a better time to deal with their infidelity situation, or an easier time to deal with their infidelity situation, and I think that SOMETIMES this can indeed be the case.  And I’ll talk about that in a moment.  But MOST of the time, there really isn’t going to be an easier time to deal with your infidelity situation.  Or, the situation isn’t going to get easier to deal with by waiting.  So by waiting to deal with it, you’re really just putting off something that might indeed be challenging to deal with, and during the period of delay, you’re experiencing all of the unpleasant stuff that comes with putting off something that you know is truly important.

Sometimes the only way to make something difficult easier is to just DO IT.  To just get started.  To do one hard thing at a time.  When we allow ourselves to deal with something difficult one step at a time, it becomes a LOT more manageable, and a lot more do-able.  And once we start to show ourselves that we can actually do something, even if we consider that something difficult to do, we usually begin to think of it as easier.  It might sound kind of crazy but it isn’t crazy at all, it’s actually quite wonderful.  The best way to show ourselves we can do hard things is to do hard things.  

Is there ever a time when it really might be better or easier to wait to deal with your infidelity situation?  My opinion is yes, there absolutely might be.  Sometimes people are in the midst of an infidelity situation and they’re working on figuring out what they want to do about it and then all of a sudden a bunch of pretty significant stuff happens in their life, practically all at once.  Maybe they lose their job, and they want to put all of their energy into finding another job as quickly as possible.  And on top of that, maybe one of their kids gets really sick, and it becomes apparent that they’ve got a major health challenge that’s going to require a lot of ongoing attention.  And on top of that, maybe their spouse or their primary partner’s parent has a major issue come up.  Maybe they get into a bad car accident, or maybe they’ve gambled all of their money away, or maybe they do something illegal and they get caught and they find themselves in a big of a legal mess.  These are just examples, of course, but the point is, sometimes stuff happens in life that is even more important and urgent than dealing with our infidelity situation.

So if you are in the midst of uniquely challenging circumstances, it may make GREAT sense to intentionally put dealing with your infidelity situation off for a while.  For sure.  We only have so much bandwidth, after all.  Making judicious choices about how we use our time and energy is a major contributor to our quality of life.

Even if you’re not in the midst of an especially challenging set of circumstances, you can still CHOOSE to put off dealing with your infidelity situation if you want to.  That is always your prerogative!  But, there is a difference between choosing to put off dealing with your infidelity situation for reasons that you like, and thinking that dealing with your situation later will make it easier to deal with.  If that’s what you’re thinking, you may be quite wrong, AND you may suffer a lot in the process of putting it off.

Sometimes the only way to make something difficult easier is to just get started.  

RESISTING a challenge usually feels a million billion trillion times worse than engaging with a challenge.  RESISTING difficulty usually feels a gazillion times worse than allowing something to be difficult, and doing it anyway – IF it is something we have deemed important for us to do.

So in conclusion, what I want you to consider is that if you’ve been thinking about your infidelity situation as difficult to deal with, or as hard to deal with, the biggest opportunity in front of you may be to start thinking differently about difficulty and ease.  The solution to something that seems difficult may not be to try to figure out how exactly to do the difficult thing, or how exactly to deal with the difficult thing.  Rather, the solution may begin with being willing to think about difficulty in a different way.

If this sounds like the most liberating news ever, great.  Go relate to the difficulties within your infidelity situation differently, so that you can get on with the business of resolving your infidelity situation in a way that you feel great about!  But if what I’ve been talking about today has sounded like an unsolvable koan, or a very perplexing riddle, do not worry.  Sometimes our brains LOVE to tell us that things are difficult.  Sometimes we really cannot see how our infidelity situation could be anything other than really hard to deal with.  Sometimes we need HELP relating to difficulty in a different way.  Sometimes we need someone to help us explore what it would mean to find a little more ease within a situation that seems really, really difficult to us.  That’s okay.  It’s okay to need this kind of help.  And this is the kind of help I can give you.  If you want to work with me individually, you can head on over to my website and schedule an introductory coaching session with me.  Together we will help you relate to your infidelity situation, including the difficult parts, with greater ease.  And starting in January, there will be two new ways to have me as your coach, and you can learn more about those options on the services page of my website.  It’s all there at

Thank you all so much for listening!  Have a great week.  Bye for now.


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