Affair Fog – Understanding your Spouse’s Confusion
Your spouse’s infidelity has been exposed, all you want is for your delinquent spouse to start doing the right things to save your marriage. Unfortunately, in spite of all the trauma and devastation, your cheating spouse continues to say and do things that make no sense whatsoever. For unknown reasons their actions go contrary to everything you know and love about them. Saying things like, “I love you but I’m not in love with you” or “you don’t get me like he/she does”. Sounding familiar? If so the likelihood is that your spouse is experiencing the phenomenon commonly known as affair fog.
How does affair fog come about?
In secret, affairs are a self-fulfilling fantasy land and they are largely detached from reality. Affairs are an artificial bubble wherein anything lacking in a marriage is seemingly satisfied. To have these needs met, wayward spouses divert energy and time away from the marriage. As this investment increases, a spouse’s ability to distinguish fantasy from reality significantly decreases, particularly in lengthy affairs.
In essence, affair fog is the state in which a wayward spouse gets so lost in satisfying their own feelings that they override their better judgement to rationalise the affair.
What should I expect?
When a betrayed spouse suddenly enters the fantasy (through disclosure or discovery), confusion reigns in both spouses. For the most part betrayed spouses struggle to comprehend how the affair came about and why their spouse has betrayed them. Normally, betrayed spouses tend to focus on the affair’s impact to the marriage and the consequences to the family unit.
On the other hand, a wayward spouse’s fantasy is now lying in tatters. Although unlike a betrayed spouse they have a habit of considering both affair partner and family unit. The destruction of the fantasy and the perceived loss will sometimes provoke strong emotional responses in favour of an affair partner. However, just as quickly they can swing emphasis back to restoring their marriage, only to be side-tracked once again when the crumbling fantasy resurfaces in their mind.
Can I support my spouse?
A wayward spouse’s confusion is usually related to their level of investment (time or intensity) in the affair. It is worth noting that a short intense affair can bring about affair fog levels similar to that of a much longer infidelity.
The single best method to help clear the fog of a wayward spouse is to sever contact with the affair partner. For spouses looking to heal their marriage cutting contact is a vital first step in a marriage recovery journey. Cutting contact means no meetings, calls, texts, social media, emails or even lingering glances in a supermarket. When communication continues in secret, the fantasy will be revived.
Couples who choose to reconcile their marriage need to agree on firm boundaries regarding contact with the affair partner (particularly where contact is unavoidable). Once agreed these boundaries must be respected as even short interactions will reinforce feelings towards an affair partner and further compound the affair fog.
Delivering a final goodbye statement to the affair partner is an excellent tool to aid recovery and reconciliation. This goodbye message is best prepared by the couple and is preferably delivered in writing. The communication goal is to leave no doubt in the mind of the affair partner that the relationship has now permanently ended. Where contact is unavoidable it should also detail how incidental meetings will be handled.
So, What now?
Knowledge is power, use your enhanced perspective to help you understand that although they sound sinister your spouse’s words probably relate more to the loss of their fantasy than anything else. Nevertheless, be prepared for an initially reluctant spouse and some emotional oscillation as the fantasy clears.
Spouses in affair fog can be unpredictable, take strength in the fact that by raising your awareness and implementing solid boundaries you are creating a new foundation to protect your marriage. Stay strong and keep learning!