Effective Anger Management Strategies for Adults

Though anger is a useful emotion to have at times, it becomes a big liability when it runs rampant every time things don’t go your way. When uncontrolled, relationships are damaged, your reputation is tarnished, and peace of mind is lost.

In this article, we look at some sound techniques for managing anger so that your life and your walk with Christ will not be damaged because of anger.

Helpful Anger Management Tools

Recognize the Anger Warning Signs

Similar to many other mental and physical disorders, it is important to recognize if you are about to lose control. If this can be done, then the anger management tools can be made use of. It helps to pay attention to what triggers your uncontrollable anger – what scenarios, who are usually involved, and how were you feeling at the time. Once this is known, you can already prepare yourself before entering similar situations.

It is also essential to know the warning signs that you are about to have a meltdown. Physically, you may experience increased heart rate, heavy breathing, jaw clenching or teeth grinding, clenching of fists, shaking, headache, stomach ache, or the reddening of the face.

Mentally and emotionally, you may have feelings of violence (e.g. hitting, throwing, or breaking things); you may be obsessing over the problem, or your mind may go blank. There may also be specific actions that occur before you fully lose control such as constant pacing, hurling of insults or curses, or screaming or yelling.

Take a Time-out

A time-out is a very effective way of preventing anger from escalating to rage. As soon as the anger indicators occur, it is best to step away and cool down before regrettable things take place.

While taking that time-out, it can help to do some of the following:

  • Take a shower – Many say that the physical experience of a shower can cool down the mind and senses, allowing a person to think better.
  • Take a walk – A change of scenery can give you a better perspective on what is happening. And as a form of exercise, restless energy is released and the mind calms down.
  • Listen to music – Instrumental music or, better yet, Christ-centered music can help you focus more on Christ to help you make the right decisions.
  • Pray and then think – As you wait for your anger to subside, you should first pray to God for wisdom and assistance for the issue at hand. Then start thinking of possible solutions to the problem. Once you have a few ideas in mind, consider the manner of how you will present them. Though you may have been hurt by the latest confrontation, returning to the discussion with hurtful words will just escalate the situation and probably cause you to become angry once more.

Let Off Some Steam

For some people, a walk is not enough to release all the negative energy. In such a case, it is best to go for something very physical such as lifting weights, cycling, running, or playing a sport. Doing yard work is another way to release steam and help out with the chores.

Distract Yourself

If you are not into strenuous exercise, it also helps to distract yourself with something fun, calming, or helpful. Watch a funny movie, work on a project at home, read a book, paint, cook, or help out a friend with something they need to be done at home.

Use Some Tried-and-Tested Relaxation Techniques

Many Christian anger management counselors recommend the following to regain control:

  • Deep breathing

A standard exercise is to breathe in slowly through the nose for five seconds, exhale through the mouth for seven seconds, and then repeat until calm.

  • Progressive relaxation

In this technique, different parts of the body are slowly and systematically tensed and released. By focusing your thoughts on the process of controlling your body, the mind becomes calmer as it imagines the tension leaving your system.

  • Yoga or stretching

Yoga has become a very popular way of releasing daily stress and it works well for anger management. If yoga is not your thing, then there are also other stretching exercises that can achieve similar relaxation results.

  • Imagery & thought-stopping

As uncontrollable anger stems from the mind, it helps to be able to control your thinking. In imagery, you choose to stop angry thoughts by thinking of pre-chosen, positive ones until you calm down (pre-chosen so you do not find yourself scrambling to think of something). This may be a Bible verse that always helps to center you or it could be a happy scene or image that inspires you (view of the mountains, oceans, or children smiling).

  • Journaling

Choosing to pour out your feelings onto paper is another helpful method. Aside from allowing the angry thoughts to flow from your mind onto something else, it is also a way for you to later analyze what keeps bothering you.

Digging Deeper for the Cause

While it is important to be able to put the flames of anger out with the abovementioned methods, it is of greater importance to discover what is causing all of this rage.

Conduct a Moral Inventory of Yourself

Though awkward at first, it is necessary to discover the true causes of your anger dilemma. You should reflect on your life and list down people that you have wronged. If possible, do try to make amends so that those areas in your life can have closure. Sometimes rage stems from anger with oneself over past mistakes with others, feelings of guilt, or unworthiness.

Next, make a list of the people who have hurt you. Then pray and seek to forgive them in your heart. Dealing with them Biblically may give you the peace of mind you have always been looking for.

Take Better Care of Yourself

In many instances, this rage comes from personal anger directed at yourself as you may not feel as “beautiful” as others. Though we are all created differently, always remember that as people created in God’s image, we are all beautiful. But to help us feel beautiful and healthy, it is necessary to take care of ourselves by eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising, doing things we love, connecting to others, and strengthening our relationship with God.

Be Yourself

Pretending to be somebody else can also cause much self-anger. Sometimes a person may be too passive, always following what others want them to do or conforming to what others wish them to be. There comes a time, however, when a person has to make a stand and assert themselves in the right way. Pray for the strength and wisdom to do so and then exercise it when you feel you are being coerced into something you do not wish.

Know God and Live According to God’s Standard

Life on earth will always be challenging. This is why everybody needs God’s help, especially those who cannot control their anger. But this cannot occur unless you purposely seek to know Him through prayer and meditation on Scripture.

The more you seek Him, the more you will discover that He has never forsaken you and that He has been moving in your life to bring you to this particular moment where you are finally ready to have a lasting relationship with Him.

Part of this relationship is living according to God’s standard. The more that you do wrong in your life, the more you will experience inner turmoil which may also be a cause of your uncontrollable anger. God’s standards are very high, but don’t let that daunt you. As you walk daily with Christ, God will give you the grace and strength you need through the Holy Spirit so that little by little you will find yourself transforming into someone better.

Seeking Help through Christian Counseling

Despite the various methods to control anger, some people have difficulty doing this on their own. If professional help is needed, seek assistance from a professional Christian anger management counselor.

In Christian counseling, the above mentioned anger management techniques will be discussed and the counselor will help you implement them properly. Moreover, sound counseling methods will be used to help you determine the true root of your anger so that solutions may be found.

But most importantly, the Christian counselor can help you connect to God so that you can view anger from God’s perspective. It is through a strong relationship with Him that you will be able to truly control yourself as challenges come your way.

In this fallen world, there are many temptations to inappropriate anger. If you or a friend is having difficulty controlling your anger response, seek help soon.

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“Punching Fist”, Courtesyof PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Overlook”, Courtesy of Mc7000, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Relaxation,” courtesy of pixabay.com, pexels.com, CC0 Public Domain License: “A Calm Faith”, Courtesy of Garon Piceli, Pexels.com; CC0 License

Adult ADHD in the Workplace: How to Cope

Christian counselors are equipped to guide adults who have ADHD to an understanding of their symptoms and implement tools to manage the challenges that the condition throws up. Adults struggling with ADHD can benefit from support that incorporates spiritual, psychological, and organizational aspects.

Spiritual maturity is important, and biblical wisdom can help people to achieve strength and peace both internally and externally.

Overwhelmed in the Workplace

Adults experiencing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) tend to have significant difficulties in managing their condition at work. It is not uncommon for them to experience feelings of being overwhelmed by the demands placed on them, compounded by an accompanying influx of anxiety.

To-do lists that seem never-ending, in-trays that are overflowing, and a sense of always playing catch-up are common issues that adults with ADHD report. Other common issues include difficulty with timekeeping, missing deadlines, and misplaced files and folders.

Struggling to Get Ahead?

Adults with ADHD may find that they are overlooked for promotion, or in constant conflict with other staff members. This may be because of missed deadlines, or difficulties with social interaction and impulse control.

It can cause tremendous stress when the workplace is filled with conflict, and it is common for adults with ADHD to frequently change jobs and career trajectories. It can be a struggle when faced with insufficient communication skills, a tendency towards distractibility, procrastination problems, and issues with project management.

Compounding the problem is the fact that many adults with ADHD have never received a formal diagnosis, and therefore have not been given access to the right support and understanding.

Being constantly beset by the problems associated with ADHD can lead to depression, poor self-image, and feelings of failure. However, receiving a diagnosis can open doors to greater levels of support and opportunities to learn valuable coping skills.

Adult ADHD Success Stories

Adults with ADHD need to be reminded that there are many successful people throughout the world, including celebrities, musicians, politicians, journalists and business tycoons who have ADHD. Their success has come from having a set of coping skills that have allowed them to overcome the challenges of their condition and focus on their strengths.

ADHD Symptoms that Affect Work Efficiency

  • Being distracted by external things (such as other people on the phone nearby, people passing by, noises outside the building) and finding it difficult to concentrate.
  • Daydreaming and procrastination
  • Impulse control issues such as angry outbursts
  • Hyperactivity that causes the need to always be on the move
  • Forgetting deadlines
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Being easily bored and not paying attention
  • Time management difficulties
  • Procrastination that impacts on other team members
  • Lack of organization
  • Difficulties with listening/paying attention
  • Talking too much or over other people
  • Failing to function in the job role

Ultimately, all of these symptoms of adult ADHD can be linked back to what is termed failure of executive functioning. This relates to a person’s cognitive functioning, specifically in the prefrontal lobe. What this means for a person with ADHD is that there are problems in the part of the brain that allows people to self-monitor their performance.

In ADHD, this portion of the prefrontal lobe is under-aroused, meaning that it is impossible for them to self-monitor. This results in distractibility that causes significant problems.

Many adults with ADHD may be described by their colleagues as lazy, lacking a sense of responsibility, and hopelessly disorganized. Such labels are damaging because they are untrue. Adults with ADHD can feel like they are fighting a losing battle trying to meet the demands placed on them, and their performance does not reflect the level of struggle they are experiencing.

Finding an Effective Solution for Adult ADHD

There are various ways to help adults with ADHD manage the chaos and confusion in their workplace. Generally, a combination of counseling and medication is the most effective approach, particularly for individuals whose symptoms have been evident since childhood.

In addition to the calming effects of medication, counseling can help adults with ADHD to develop coping mechanisms that can ease the degree of their difficulties. Some effective solutions include adjusting working hours, having a distraction-free workspace, or even working from home.

More complex coping skills can be implemented when distraction levels suddenly increase. For example, the individual can learn to escape the distraction zone and locate a quiet and empty space so as to be able to continue working. “Do not disturb” signs and diverting telephone calls may also be useful techniques.

When individuals are particularly affected by visual distractions, it can be advisable to avoid open-plan office spaces and have a desk that faces a wall rather than a window. Desk clutter should be avoided.

What Can You Do If You Are an Adult with ADHD?

It is more difficult to find strategies for reducing internal distractions, however. The busy mind of an adult with ADHD can be inundated with thoughts unrelated to work, random recollection of missed appointments, and prone to daydreaming due to boredom.

Some effective solutions for these issues can be always keeping a notebook to hand so as to write down random thoughts and ideas and then return to the task at hand. A diary or other kind of planning system can assist with appointment issues, as well as setting reminders and alarms.

When it comes to boredom, it is important to find ways of maintaining concentration and interest in the project. It may be that a career change is necessary in order to find work that captivates interest.

For issues with hyperactivity, taking regular breaks and exploring physical ways of dealing with excess energy and a need for constant movement can be useful techniques. A standing desk may be another solution.

Gaining the support of your manager or a colleague can be hugely beneficial. They can help to build a schedule that you can keep to, and it is widely reported that having structure can ease the challenges of living with ADHD.

Impulse control difficulties can be mediated by having ready responses when others make offers that could lead you off track. It is possible to train yourself to check the diary or schedule rather than jumping at the chance of distraction.

When planning meetings, factor in extra time so that if distractions emerge, you can still avoid being late. Stick to the schedule you’ve created and be realistic in your expectations of yourself.

Navigating your workday can be especially difficult when your to-do list seems to be never-ending. Counselors can help you to prioritize and avoid overwhelming yourself with anxiety while still keeping on schedule with the project at hand.

Counselor Coaches

It can be helpful for adults with ADHD to view their counselors as “coaches” who can keep them on track and help create structure and build effective schedules. Reporting back to their counselor about what is and isn’t working means that new skills and techniques can be implemented as necessary.

Over time, this enables the adult with ADHD to develop their ability to self-monitor, and there will come a time when they no longer need the help of their coach.

For some people, even making the smallest of changes to their approach can have a considerable impact on their workplace efficiency. It is important to remember that everyone is different, and has different needs, so what works for one person may not work for another.

A counselor can help to establish what each individual needs, and build a personalized skill set that addresses the specific difficulties being faced.

Disclosing ADHD to Employers

While some adults with ADHD are open with their employers about their condition, many individuals are afraid that disclosing that they have ADHD will result in discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) prohibit employers from discriminating against staff with disabilities. Unfortunately, these protections do not automatically extend to adults with ADHD.

To be protected by the ADA and RA, an individual has to meet four specific conditions, and there is a requirement that they disclose their disability to their employer. If the ADA and RA apply, the company is required to make allowances for the difficulties a person experiences, but if an employee fails to disclose their disorder, no such allowances are necessary.

In certain cases, disclosing that you have ADHD is essential:

  • When you are afraid that you will lose your job, and can only succeed in your work if the allowances of ADA and RA are made
  • When your employer is planning to dismiss you because you have failed to perform to the standards required by your role
  • When you are on medication but are still unable to cope with the demands of your job—in this situation, making a disclosure can help to reduce the pressure you are experiencing and may open up new avenues of support in addition to improving workplace relationships.

Assessing Your Career Choice

When an adult is diagnosed with ADHD, they may begin to realize that part of their difficulties is related to their career choice. Some careers may prove to be incompatible with their needs resulting from ADHD.

It is worthwhile considering a career change if one of your major difficulties is a lack of engagement in work that leads to excessive daydreaming. It is much easier to stay focused if you are genuinely interested in and enjoy the work that you are doing. It can be helpful to:

  • Recognize the things that interest you the most, and research jobs that fit in this area
  • Reflect on your abilities and achievements, as these will reveal your strongest capabilities
  • Look back at your school years to discover the subjects you found easiest and most enjoyable, as well as uncovering particular strengths
  • Investigate your personality type
  • Consider your values and find careers that align with what matters most to you
  • Evaluate your aptitudes
  • Look at your energy levels and consider careers that fit best with these
  • Reflect on any patterns of failure in previous jobs—identifying these can help prevent repeating the same mistakes.

Christian Counseling for Adult ADHD

Statistically, over 8 million American adults are battling with the challenges of ADHD, and inevitably this means that there is a high demand for support. A Christian counselor can work with adults with ADHD, utilizing talk therapy, building spiritual coping mechanisms, and helping the client to build essential skills that can improve work satisfaction and efficiency.

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How to Build Trust in a Relationship: 7 Important Steps

This article will provide seven steps to take that will help you learn how to build trust in a relationship. First, however, we will need to start with the basics.

The Definition of Trust

Trust is having confidence in someone and believing that he or she will love you forever and is always going to remain loyal. Trusting people is difficult because it means you need to believe that you are able to depend on them and feel comfortable with them to the point where you are okay with confiding in them and letting them see you in a vulnerable state. Trust acts as a key component for the foundation of any kind of relationship.

The Importance of Trust in your Relationships

Establishing trust within a couple’s relationship is critical because it provides a feeling of security in which each partner is allowed to be his or her authentic self. Trust is the foundation of healthy relationships. If trust exists within a couple, insecurities do not get in the way of the relationship.

Having trust in another person helps us face problems together while maintaining a sense of balance between outside relationships with other people such as friends or family and inside the relationship.

Establishing trust also means each partner is allowed to have his or her own space and time away from the other partner without causing problems in the relationship.

When a couple has faith in one another, they have confidence that their partner is trustworthy. Support systems within relationships assist couples in having the ability to challenge each other as well as themselves and take occasional risks for ambitions and personal growth.

Knowing that your significant other is there for you at all times provides a feeling of freedom. Trust makes the relationship stronger because you and your partner are supportive and know that you will always have each other’s backs.

Trust is crucial when overcoming issues in any relationship. Trust binds partners together and provides confidence that the partners can join together and overcome whatever issues they are facing.

Trust establishes faith and knowledge that you and your partner can move past any hurts and wrongdoings that have occurred. Knowing that your partner is loyal and loves you even in moments of conflict can cultivate an increase in honesty and strengthen your relationship.

Relationships cannot thrive or survive without trust. Negative consequences of a lack of trust include the dissolution of the relationship, crippling fear, and a lot of insecurity. The relationship becomes dysfunctional and at times could be classified as chaotic.

Trust is a crucial foundation for relationships because, with trust, relationships will not be destroyed when hardships arise. However, if there is no established trust in a relationship, the relationship has little chance of survival when problems, doubts, or suspicions come up.

Trust works to create a sense of safety in relationships. The sense of safety makes more room for intimacy, devotion, and love as well as allows partners to feel comfortable. If a sense of security and trust are not present in a relationship, insecurities and fear get in the way.

Advice for Gaining Trust in Your Relationship

The following list contains steps that can help partners find ways of gaining trust in their relationships. This list does not need to be followed in order but each item should be included in an ongoing pattern of communication within a relationship.

Incorporate these steps into your relationship and watch how trust will build if you and your partner both make an effort to implement these elements.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are critical to relationships, so it is important to honor your partner’s boundaries that you have agreed upon. Even if your partner’s boundaries and values are different from yours, honoring them can create excellent opportunities for you and your partner to find out more about one another’s virtues, values, and strengths.

Implementing boundaries can help partners find out how much emotional or physical space each one is comfortable with. It is important to communicate your boundaries to your partner, which includes how much time alone you need, how comfortable you feel inside your relationship, what you are comfortable letting other people know about your relationship, etc.

Learn to Communicate Effectively and Openly

A major reason that many relationships do not work out is because of insufficient communication. Constructive, open, and active communication is not easy in relationships, but it is vital if you and your partner want to have healthy patterns of communication. Implementing open communication can help build mutual agreements and shared understandings regarding how you would like to incorporate other people into your life and relationship.

Effective communication also includes active listening. It is easy to interrupt our partners when they are talking, provide advice without listening to our partners, or quickly jump to solutions. It is difficult to always actively listen to your partner instead of immediately planning out what your response is going to be.

If you are an active listener, though, your partner will see that you are respectful and caring towards what he or she is saying even if your feelings differ. Listening to your partner without judgment is an important method of building trust.

Be Honest

Of course, honesty is another crucial component of establishing trust in relationships. Transparency within the relationship can build trust because both partners will be allowed to feel comfortable and safe.

There is not a lot of opportunity for negative assumptions or thoughts about the other person’s activities if both partners openly communicate consistently. Sharing the things that you are experiencing and specific details regarding your day begins a consistent pattern that can build trust.

It is important to note that the concept of honesty doesn’t mean both partners need to share each and every detail of their lives. However, lies of omission, deception, and dishonesty can all tear apart relationships.

Honesty needs to constantly be practiced and it is typically found that when trust is growing, the partners begin to find no need to justify things or explain their behaviors because there is faith that the other partner will understand their thoughts and actions.

Be Humble

Mistakes in relationships are inevitable and going to happen. However, it is very possible to work towards repairing a damaged relationship and lead it towards healing. Both partners must be able to admit mistakes and be open to coming together to rebuild trust and work through their mistakes.

Perfect relationships do not exist and not every expectation will be met, especially early in a relationship. It is important to realize this going into the relationship so that you are not caught off guard when issues arise. Admitting wrongdoings and taking responsibility for mistakes actually works to strengthen your relationship and build more trust.

Be Reliable

Successful relationships exist when each partner follows through with set communication habits, intentional behaviors, and personal boundaries that have been established within the relationships. When promises are broken or agreements are not adhered to, trust diminishes, which can cause catastrophic consequences to relationships.

You should never agree with your partner or make promises just so that he or she will be happy because failing to keep promises or agreements is a very common way that trust is broken. That is why it is very important to be honest and continue to maintain open communication. Making sure your behaviors and promises match up can lead to the strengthening of trust and a healthier relationship.

Express your needs

Trying to read your partner’s mind can have serious consequences. Even if you know each other very well, you can never know exactly what your partner is thinking. Of course, you can come up with a prediction based on past behavior or patterns, but if you do not ask your partner his or her thoughts upfront, you cannot know what he or she is thinking. If you assume that you’re able to know what he or she did, thinks, or feels, it will not help the relationship.

A key method of avoiding mind reading or making assumptions is to simply express what your needs are. If you express your needs, you are providing your partner with specifics that he or she should consider and if he or she follows through with your request, trust can build.

If your partner is expressing his or her needs, you should try to understand his or her mindset and be empathetic in an attempt to understand the needs and gain some perspective. Not only does fulfilling a partner’s need help a couple get to know each other better, but it can also build trust.

Forgive

Forgiveness is also a crucial component of trust. If partners trust each other, they will understand that fights or disagreements are not indicative of the relationship ending. If you trust that you and your partner have your relationship and each other’s interests in mind, you will gain a sense of security even if things are difficult. Dealing with challenges and providing forgiveness is made much easier if the couple trusts that they can overcome any situation.

Can I Heal From Past Hurts?

Building trust takes intentionality and a lot of time and effort. It is never easy to establish trust and this is made even more difficult if some sort of betrayal has occurred.

It is possible for betrayal to be exhibited in different ways, such as misusing power, crossing boundaries, or committing lies and deception. Repairing a relationship after betrayal is difficult, and forgiveness is the sole way that a relationship can heal and move forward. Of course, an apology is the first step in asking for forgiveness.

In order for there to be forgiveness, both parties must acknowledge that betrayal and hurt have taken place. If you have betrayed your partner, you must take responsibility for it, which is a huge step in acknowledging your partner’s pain. After that, you must find a way to ensure your partner that the betrayal won’t happen again. It is critical to provide your partner with the promise of that you regret the behavior and will never commit it in the future.

Lastly, you also must analyze your feelings to recognize why you are dealing with this experience in the first place. You cannot deny the betrayal, but you can explore the reasons. Some questions you may have include, “What am I expecting from our relationship?,” “Have I’ve been harboring these feelings for a long time?,” or “In what ways is this issue affecting me?”

Having an awareness of your personal tendency towards doubts and insecurity is another crucial piece to rebuilding trust. You have to have a lot of patience with yourself, which will help you learn how to identify if you are hesitant to trust your partner because of a betrayal you experienced in the past. If you seem to be having doubts, it is crucial to communicate the insecurities to your partner instead of suppressing them just because you are scared to say anything.

Nobody is perfect and it takes a lot of faith to extend trust to another person because it is scary and intimidating. We all make mistakes and oftentimes our reactions are not preferable, but having patience with yourself can be of great assistance while you learn about yourself and develop the ability to trust over time.

Seeking Help

It is usually very hard to move past previous betrayals and hurts in relationships, and it is easy to begin feeling “stuck.” If this is happening to you and you don’t feel you can trust yourself and your own judgment right now, a counselor can assist you in exploring and addressing these issues. We would love to take the journey of healing with you while you work towards building stronger relationships that include an ample amount of trust.

Photos:
“Couple’s PDA,” courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Holding Hands,” courtesy of Phuoc Le, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Humble Yourself,” courtesy of Ben White, unsplash.com, Public Domain License; “Distrust”, Courtesy of Joshua Rawson Harris, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Having an Affair? Here’s How and Why You Should Stop

Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks about ruining their marriage. So why is it that people have affairs? The underlying cause of infidelity often stems from the defensive structures people create as a reaction to trauma experienced in childhood.

To really understand what this means, picture a little girl whose father is not around most of the time, is authoritarian, doesn’t show any interest in her recitals, and whose mother is there but is always preoccupied with her own personal issues.

Although the father constantly tells her he loves her, deep down inside the girl has never believed him and though she knows that her mother loves her, it has never felt like enough.

As the girl reached her 20’s, she dated, fell in love, and got married to a man who had a similar personality to her father’s, and whenever he says he loves her, something inside her says it’s not real.

Several years go by and she is introduced to a man at work whose musical interests are the same as hers. She is even more tempted because she chooses not to tell her husband about it. Since the man doesn’t know her that well, his interest in her gets around the defensive I’m-not-lovable-structure, then she begins to crave his attention like an addiction. The affair has already started.

Sex by this point almost an afterthought. The attention of this not-loved-one comforts her hidden, desperate, ruined younger parts. Unfortunately, leaving her husband for this man means he will become a loved one and she will more likely have a relationship with another person again, and the cycle will go on.

This situation is just an example of the many defensive structures and narratives we all have.

The Power of Love

We are designed to bond with one another. When we experience attraction for someone, our bodies automatically respond as if there’s a possibility we might mate with them. Our pupils dilate, capillaries expand to increase blood flow, and our pulse moves quickly. It can make one breathless.

The reptilian brain is always trying to procreate. In Freudian terms, the id says, “I want that!” and the ego says, “I know how to get that!” The superego, on the other hand, says, “You can’t have that, because (insert moral reason here).”

If we live with an emotional lack such as in the above example, we can easily confuse lust for love. Actual love is a deeper connection formed by years of growing together with another person.

Erotic love plays a wonderful role in a marriage but erotic love by itself always makes a person even more lonely in every relationship. Once you jump from one intimate relationship to another, you won’t be able to receive true love from another, so you will automatically end up with what’s not real.

The Anatomy of Having an Affair

When motive fuels desire and opportunity leads to action, infidelity starts to happen. Just like any other sinful acts, people wouldn’t be interested in becoming unfaithful if they’re not getting anything in return.

To satisfy oneself sexually is not the only obvious payoff. Having an affair also tends to heal the wounded part of the self that encourages the behavior more than anything else. Another payoff is the thrill that comes with indulging in the forbidden actually building up the erotic energy in the relationship.

Sin is the opposite of good, and infidelity is the same. Similar to an addiction, for most people it only works for a while. As soon as it fails, the consequences come in the form of deep shame and guilt, hurting marriages, hurting children, and often the loss of jobs or homes.

Having an affair is a sin that can wreck whatever trust and happiness there is in a marriage. This is why it’s necessary to acknowledge infidelity before it spreads and causes any more harm.

Where Does Infidelity Start?

Flirting with someone else when you’re married is never harmless. More likely your sexuality is integrated into your personality making it safe for you to say, “It’s just how I am.” That doesn’t make it harmless.

Everything starts when you’re in a really difficult situation, emotionally vulnerable, feeling alone, and someone who looks attractive enters your life and makes you feel good, and you begin walking down the path. The best way to prevent infidelity is to stop it as soon as you start to realize that it’s happening.

Here’s another classic example of infidelity waiting to happen. A man works for an environmental company and has to drive for four hours to get to work and to meet up with his team. He’s already having trouble with his relationship with his wife and as if destiny tries to test him, there is a beautiful single woman on the team.

One afternoon, as they are having a great conversation, laughing at each other’s jokes, they look into each other’s eyes longer than usual. The man realizes that he’s attracted to the woman and he can tell she feels the same way.

That night the woman shows up at his hotel room door and asks the man to come to join her for a drink downstairs. At that moment he realizes he has to say NO right there and then, not when he’s already in the bar with her. There would be only one reason for that man to accept her invitation and that would be to dabble with adultery in the private hope of actually making it happen.

The man made up an excuse to avoid her and no longer communicated with her outside of work. Though the man thinks he will never be unfaithful, the chance of him engaging in adultery would have been exponentially higher had he gone with her. We are not just wired for bonding, we are also wired to want that bonding as much and as possible.

Our intelligence makes it possible for us to sidestep that wiring and avoid looking for something or someone beyond our marriage in order to meet our needs. Some suffer silently for many years while their relationship slowly declines and grows cold. Others cannot control themselves and end up finding comfort in other people’s arms.

Both of these results are terrible and God wants something much better for us. The traditional marriage vows that say “to have and to hold, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others.” is already a great reminder for us to keep. If you or your spouse doesn’t feel loved, honored, or cherished, it’s best to take action right away, probably through the help of a counselor.

How Do You Come Back After Having an Affair?

Infidelity is devastating to a marriage. If a spouse is not hurt by the infidelity then something is not right within the relationship and it could make a person think the marriage didn’t even matter in the first place. Since trust is a primary foundation of marriage, it’s extremely hard to restore once it has been broken by betrayal.

If the two of you chose to stay together after infidelity, a counselor is the best person to run to for help to find your way back together. Anger is a common and long-lasting emotion and while trust no longer seems possible, most of the time it will return, though it may take years.

There is no excuse for betrayal but understanding the emotional factors behind the action of the cheating spouse will help a lot – not in any way to cover up what was broken, but to be able to forgive an imperfect human being at the end of the day.

If you’re the spouse who cheated, it’s normal and proper for you to feel an overwhelming guilt for some time especially if you’re known to be a person whose values is big on faith. It’s going to be a painful recovery process and there is no way you can rush it.

It is unrealistic to expect your spouse to exhibit a desire for you, or to feel comfortable in your presence or to enjoy your company before they’re ready; there are some boundaries that you must not violate. They must decide when to restore you to fellowship.

This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean you have no right to make choices or you don’t have a voice or can’t put in place your own healthy boundaries. It’s wrong to assume that it’s okay for us to be treated like a doormat and put up with whatever abuse our spouse inflicts on us. They have every right to display anger but not to become abusive.

As you navigate the process of recovery the following rules of engagement will probably benefit you:

  • Hold up a hand if either of you needs to pause the conversation.
  • Conversations that have been paused conversations must be rescheduled and pick up at the pause.
  • Counseling sessions are the best time to have most of your relationship conversations.
  • Each of us must be responsible for our own feelings.
  • It’s best to ask permission before talking using such questions as “Is this a good time to talk about _____?” “I wonder what would happen if _____?” “I’m detecting that you are (angry, distant, etc) and am wondering what that’s about,” or “Would you let me tell you my impression of it?”

It takes hard work to recover from infidelity but if both partners work at showing a great deal of compassion towards one another, learning to forgive, and holding on to each other to face a common enemy (rather than attacking each other), it can result in a much richer, deeper relationship than before.

How To Protect Your Marriage Against Infidelity

The truth is that no one is immune from committing a sin; we are flawed human beings. That being said, motives and opportunities can transform in many different ways thus, infidelity can happen in a marriage. However, there are a few steps you can take to strengthen your relationship and fight infidelity:

Keep God the Center of Your Marriage

Being married, whether you did it in a church or not, means you made a promise before God. He cares deeply about your relationship. Allow him to be in it. Ask for His help to love right, to be more forgiving, to fight your own selfishness, put up good boundaries, and be responsible for your own emotional struggles.

Take Infidelity Seriously

Pay attention to what your body does. If you stare at or talk to an attractive co-worker, or the spouse of your friend, or a single friend and notice your body is having a certain reaction to it (fluttering in the stomach, a catch in your voice, a desire to look more deeply into their eyes, or confide in them for connection), recognize that and admit it to yourself.

There’s nothing wrong in saying, “I think I’m really attracted to this person”; you don’t have to hide it from yourself. You can admit your attraction without feeling guilty. Remember, we are designed to be attracted to people and once you realize this, you will be able to respond by saying, “but I will not do anything about it.” Then correct your flirtatious behavior.

Have the Willingness to Set Boundaries

Setting up boundaries can be embarrassing but sometimes they’re a must. A professor once shared how a woman approached him after a presentation, gave him a hug, and pressed her whole body to his. He moved away from her and said: ”My wife is the only person who can hug me that way.” Now that may sound a little too forward for some, but it’s a great example of setting boundaries. It also inspires us to be more confident in defending the sanctity of our marriage.

Work On Your Emotions

Finding a therapist who can help you find an unprocessed emotional trauma in your past, identifying them, and finding out what you did to survive it is something you may want to consider doing. The more you understand your own emotional grid, the easier it is for you to change it, put up healthy boundaries, and build up firm, reciprocal bonds with the people you love.

Do The Work of Loving Your Spouse

One of the many great things about marriage is the sense of comfort we can get from the companionship of someone familiar. However, it becomes dangerous once familiarity transforms into complacency.

There was once a man who said that on his wedding day, he told his wife, “I love you. I’ll let you know if that ever changes.” Although what he said was meant to be a joke, it did, however, make a point. We find it easier to forget to do the little things that strengthen our love for the other person.

Recall the things that you both loved doing together and find out if it’s possible for you to do them again. Send cards, give flowers, and keep birthdays and anniversaries in mind just like the good ‘ol romantic days you both once had. Be thankful for the ones you love and remember the reasons why you feel in love with them. Rehearse the things that made you love them and rekindle them as best you can.

Learn to look at yourself and your spouse as an amazing, special reflection of God’s image here on earth. Value each other and the miracle of your relationship as well as keep each other while walking towards a future of growth and health.

Photos:
“Lonely”, Courtesy of Luis Galvez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Affair”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Drink After Work”, Courtesy of Sasint, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Fireworks”, Courtesy of Jared Sluyter, Unsplash.com, CC0 License