Thanksgiving can be a joyous holiday for some and a difficult one for others. Regardless of where you stand, there’s value in looking at what you can give thanks for- even in the midst of a nuanced and challenging situation like infidelity.
In this episode, I share a lengthy list of questions that you can answer to help find the gifts within your infidelity situation. It would be silly to act like you’re not getting something positive out of it, so why not acknowledge what that something is?
Answer these questions honestly, don't hold back, and don’t judge your responses. Realize that being honest with yourself is a prerequisite for living the life you want. Regardless of the situation, your infidelity may be the catalyst for your growth, and that’s something to always be thankful for. Tune in this week, and give yourself the chance to find your gifts.
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. I offer confidential, compassionate coaching via Zoom, which means we can work together no matter where you’re located. When you are ready to resolve your infidelity situation in a way that’s truly right for you, I can help you do it. To schedule an introductory coaching session with me, go to my website, mariemurphyphd.com. Let’s get to work on finding you some relief and a clear path forward. There’s no reason for you to put off getting the support that will allow you to start feeling better for any longer.
Also, as I’ve announced in the last couple of episodes, I’m going to be offering two additional ways that you can have me as your coach starting early next year.
In January I will be ready to welcome you to my anonymous group coaching program called “You’re Not the Only One.” This program will give you access to group coaching calls on which you will have the opportunity to be coached by me, and hear other folks who are dealing with their own infidelity situations get coached by me, too. Getting advice and support that is specific to you and your unique situation is incredibly valuable, but interestingly enough, sometimes we learn just as much from hearing other people get coached. My new program will give you the experience to get both individual attention and benefit from hearing the coaching I give to others, and of course we’re going to do this in a way that completely protects your privacy. “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, as well as assignments to help you make use of these teachings. I’m super excited about being able to offer you the wisdom I’ve gained from coaching hundreds of clients who are dealing with infidelity, and to offer a way for folks who are engaging in infidelity to come together and see that they are not alone.
For folks who want the simplicity of a DIY approach, I will also be offering a self-study package of my teachings, without the group coaching calls.
I tell you more about these new offerings in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more information. And if you want details about these new programs delivered to your inbox, go to my website and get yourself signed up for my mailing list.
Okay. This episode is going to air the week of American Thanksgiving, and this episode is going to be about giving thanks for what you can within your infidelity situation, or in regards to your infidelity situation. On the one hand, I sort of cringed at timing this episode in this way. I appreciate the fact that for some people, Thanksgiving is a totally unproblematic occasion to give thanks and celebrate life’s gifts, or life’s bounty, or life’s blessings. And I appreciate the fact that some people love this holiday deeply and take so much joy in celebrating it. But on the other hand, I also recognize that there are good reasons to interrogate the entire premise of this holiday, given the nuances of its historical origins. And I of course recognize that for some people, holidays can be a time of great anguish and loneliness – and that other people’s enjoyment of said holidays can seem like a slap in the face.
So on the one hand, I didn’t want to offer you an episode about giving thanks at the time when Thanksgiving occurs in the United States, and suggest that we should all get on board with a collective expression of gratitude because that’s what we’re all supposed to do at this time of year. But on the other hand, I chose to time this episode as I did because I think there really is value in looking for what we can give thanks for, even in the midst of situations that are challenging and nuanced and fraught with contradictions or characterized by injustices. In other words, I think two competing things can be true at once: Thanksgiving may have a far more fucked up history than most of us were taught in elementary school, AND any occasion to sincerely give thanks for our lives and everything in them may be a good occasion to give thanks.
If that sounds kind of crazy, well, welcome to human existence. My belief is that human life is characterized by some pretty profound paradoxes and contradictions, and that there is great value in learning to embrace and work with these paradoxes and contradictions, instead of attempting to ignore or reject them.
And so it is with infidelity. On the one hand, yes, a lot of people might think infidelity is really bad. You yourself might think infidelity is really bad. Or perhaps you don’t think infidelity is really bad in a categorical way, but you’d prefer to not be engaging in it yourself. In a way, that’s completely fair. But here’s the problem. When we get really fixated on the badness of what we’re doing, or the wrongness of what we’re doing, or what we don’t like about what we’re doing, we fail to see important parts of the whole. You’re getting SOMETHING out of your infidelity situation that you derive benefit from. And if you don’t allow yourself to consider that stuff, you’re going to have a very hard time resolving your infidelity situation in a way that you feel good about. You may have heard me say this on the podcast before, but it bears repeating, over and over again. You can’t shame yourself into making sustainable, positive changes. It just doesn’t work. Self-awareness and self-love are far better motivators of change than self-reproach.
So today, we’re going to explore some of the reasons you might have to be thankful to your infidelity situation, or for your infidelity situation. Even if, on the whole, you’d prefer not to be engaging in infidelity. That’s fine! If that’s your end goal, fantastic. But if that’s the point you want to get to, you have to take a comprehensive look at your infidelity situation in order to get there, and that includes appreciating what’s great about your situation – NOT just beating yourself up for what you don’t like about it. Giving yourself a hard time for being where you are is not going to help you figure out where you want to go, or to get there.
So. What are the gifts of your infidelity situation? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you identify them.
What have you gotten out of your infidelity situation that you really, really like? No wrong answers. If you have LOVED sneaking around behind your committed partner’s back, and loved lying to them and getting away with it, it’s okay to acknowledge that.
What have you learned about yourself as an individual – through the course of your infidelity situation - that you might not have learned any other way?
What have you learned about how you like to relate to others that you might not have learned any other way?
What have you learned about what you want your love life/sex life/relationship life to be like going forward?
How have you surprised yourself, within or as a result of your infidelity situation?
How have you made yourself proud of yourself?
What have you learned about what’s okay with you and not okay with you?
What benefits have you gotten from even the most difficult parts of your infidelity situation? If that’s a tough question to answer, try this. Think about the MOST difficult part of your infidelity situation. Get clear on what you think the hardest part of the whole thing is. And then ask yourself, if the universe is kind, what part of this is good? The point isn’t to try and convince yourself that something you find difficult isn’t actually difficult. The point is to start to see what you might be getting from contending with these difficulties that you truly value.
Give yourself the opportunity to acknowledge what you are gaining, or what good you’ve received through or within your infidelity situation… even if the whole situation is brand new, and you’ve barely had a chance to make sense of what’s going on. You can at least take a preliminary inventory of what’s going on! If nothing else, your very new infidelity situation may be EXCITING. You may feel more alive than you’ve felt in a long time. And that might be a pretty welcome experience to have.
Give yourself the opportunity to acknowledge what you’ve gained from your infidelity situation even if the situation is not brand new at all, and has been dragging on for what seems like forever. Even if it seems like you should have found a way to resolve your infidelity situation by now, and you feel totally stuck and hopelessly confused, you can set all of that drama aside for a second and be willing to look for the gifts of your situation.
As a result of participating in your infidelity situation, what do you know for sure you want in the future? What do you know for sure you DON’T want in the future?
What has your infidelity situation shown you about what you want to make sure you keep doing, or do more of? What has it shown you you do NOT want to keep doing, or do more of?
I would be willing to bet that if nothing else, your infidelity situation has given you the opportunity to experience more of your own humanity. I’m willing to bet that you’ve had some experiences, within the context of your infidelity situation, that you never thought you’d have. I’m willing to bet that you’ve found yourself doing things you never thought you’d do, and found yourself considering things that you never thought you’d have to consider. I bet you’ve found yourself stretched in directions you never thought you’d stretch in. And what an experience this can be – to be surprised by life, and by ourselves! You might want to give thanks for that.
In other words, your infidelity situation may be the catalyst for your transformation and growth. AND it also might be a catalyst for changes in how you relate to other people.
One thing I hear from clients pretty often is that dealing with their own infidelity situation has given them so much more empathy for other people. A number of my clients have told me that prior to their infidelity situation, they tended to be pretty judgmental of others, particularly in terms of how other people conducted their relationships, or their romantic lives. But now, some clients tell me, they have a totally new understanding of the complexity of love and relationships, and they have so much more compassion for people who aren’t doing things the way everyone says you’re supposed to do them. They have so much more empathy for others people’s challenges, and so much less inclination to judge others.
That’s pretty powerful stuff. That might be worth being thankful for. Releasing our judgements of others has the potential to make an impact on other people’s experiences of being alive, and that’s a great thing, but judging others less benefits US, too! WE feel better when we relate to others with less judgment. OUR lives improve when we regard others with more compassion and understanding.
Another thing people sometimes say is that their infidelity situation has given them a much better sense of how essential it is for them to be honest with themselves, and faithful to themselves if they want to be honest with others, and faithful to others. So many of us go through lives engaging in a fair amount of people-pleasing, and we often do that because we think we have to, or we don’t know of a different way. But we may get to a point when we realize that anything we attempt to do for others that is not built on a foundation of us being faithful to ourselves just doesn’t work. And it can be tremendously liberating to recognize that being honest with ourselves is not a luxury that we can’t afford, but a prerequisite for living the life we want to live.
It is totally fair to dislike many aspects of your infidelity situation, or feel frustrated or confused or exhausted by many aspects of it. But you can recognize all of that and ALSO look for the gifts of your infidelity situation. You can find your situation super challenging to deal with, and you can also decide to expand your view of what’s going on, and look for the benefits you are getting from meeting the challenges before you.
All right, everyone. That is it for today. Happy Thanksgiving, if you are celebrating. And whether you are or are not celebrating, let this moment be as good of a moment as any for appreciating the wild ride that is the experience of being alive in human form. If you’re ready for my help with dealing with your infidelity situation, you can schedule an introductory coaching session with me through my website, mariemurphyphd.com. I can’t wait to meet you.
Thank you all so much for listening! Have a great week. Bye for now.