Healthy vs Unhealthy questions to ask your partner when he/she has cheated on you
When our partner betrays us, we feel that our reality has been shattered and trust is no longer our instinct. We can develop symptoms familiar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after going through the experience of an affair. Such symptoms include: hypervigilance, shock, repression, denial, intense mood fluctuation, depression, anxiety, and lowered self-esteem. It is highly important we know how to proceed to avoid further trauma and pain.
Esther Perel, a Marriage and Family Therapist and an expert on the field of infidelity wrote a book called State of Affairs where she does an excellent job at walking the couple through this traumatic process. In her book, Esther explained how the person that was betrayed has the tendency to ask detective questions which invite comparisons and may feed into your trauma, making it nearly impossible to move on and work on building what was destroyed. On the other hand, she talks about the other set of questions called investigative questions. Investigative questions are not about comparison or traumatizing. Instead, they are about the motives and meaning of the affair. Investigative questions focus on the analysis rather than on facts.
Below, you can find some examples of detective questions:
-did you take her/him to our favorite dinner spot?
-is he/she better in bed than me?
-is he/she thinner/more beautiful/funnier/more muscular than me?
-how many times a day did you talk to him/her?
-did you talk to him/her during ______ [eg. My birthday, our family holiday, etc.]
-did you spend time with his/her kids/other family members?
-who knew about this?
-what was he/she wearing that turned you on?
Investigative questions examples:
-help me understand what the affair meant for you.
-were you looking for it or did it just happen?
-what was it like when you came home from seeing him/her?
-what did you experience there that you didn’t have with me?
-did you want me to find out?
Before you ask any question, ask yourself: if I knew the answer to this question, what would it do for me? If the answer is that it would add further scarring, it’s an indication that it’s not the right question.
I hope this brief article helped you better understand the importance of asking the right questions and focusing on growing from the pain.
After an affair, our environment stops being predictable and now we are faced with an abrupt disruption of our lives. It is of vital importance that we reach out to a person whose advice we value and trust; this could be a good friend, family member or a psychotherapist to better process this crisis. An affair is a turning point in our lives and we need to make sure we get proper help. A crisis has the potential to both destroy and restore, it is up to us what it is going to be.
Reference: The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel
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