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Holidays and Affairs

Article by Jeffrey Murrah

The holiday season brings unique challenges to dealing with affairs. Holidays bring with them many expectations, both realistic and unrealistic. These expectations carry with them increased emotional sensitivity. With the heightened emotional sensitivity dealing with an affair can easily become a high drama situation. Everyone involved with an affair situation brings additional drama to an already volatile situation. The resolute spouse, the disloyal spouse and the lover each exert pull on the situation and each other.

Even without the affair, the holiday season brings remembrances and recollections from past holidays. Under healthy circumstances, such remembrances are viewed as good things. In the circumstance of an affair, such recollections often bring with them the unfulfilled desires from previous years and yearnings to satisfy those desires. A fantasy is created concerning how the affair will change or fix things. An affair will change things although not in a predictable or healthy manner. The parties involved in the affair often feed into each others fantasy. With the holidays, people are more susceptible to entertaining fantasies, especially with merchants and advertisers encouraging fantasies.

When unfulfilled desires are channeled into an affair, those involved often look at it as the fulfillment of what had been denied to them in previous years. It is as if they are looking for a new fix for an old hurt. In circumstances where old unfulfilled desires stem from earlier years in life, the affair becomes disappointing.

In considering dealing with affairs in the holiday season, the proactive actions to avoid affairs include:

1. Practice moderation in drinking and hours you keep.2. Get plenty of sleep.3. Avoid high risk situations where affairs may occur. If you are attending a party with high risk persons, take extra precautions.4. Recognize that affairs often start with “ISM” (I-self-me) thinking. When such thoughts start occurring, you may have to avoid or alter the situation.

In the event an affair has occurred the following general actions are needed.

1. Be honest with yourself about what is happening or has happened.2. Don’t try to buy your spouses affection with expensive gifts. (I am NOT saying do not give gifts. I am saying to not try to buy off your guilt with a gift).3. Spend time with your family, rather than avoid them.4. Don’t threaten your spouse.

Although the holiday season has many potential dangers, the increased emotional sensitivities also provide opportunities for reconciliation. During the holiday season, many people are more generous about forgiving. Recall that forgiveness is NOT pardoning, approving or accepting the behavior. Besides opportunities for reconciliation, the holidays also provide opportunities to create new family memories. Since there is greater likelihood of acceptance during the holidays, this time provides opportunities for rebuilding family relationships that may have suffered damage related to the affair. These relationships may be with your children, in-laws, or other extended family members. In your attempts at rebuilding relationships it is always important to accept people for who they are.

The holidays provide unique challenges, dangers and opportunities. Depending on how these unique qualities are dealt with, an affair can be especially devastating during this time. When faced with honesty, and courage, the holidays provide many opportunities for reconciling and healing.

Jeffrey has counseled with families and couples for over 25 years. He has authored numerous articles on marriage and parenting. His articles have helped many avoid the pain and pitfalls of poor choices in relationships.

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