Manual Shattered Vows

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If you choose to stay in your marriage, you have options other than punishing, tolerating, or ignoring your spouse; in fact, extraordinary growth awaits a woman willing to deal with the pain of her husbands struggles with sexual purity. Even if a spouse will not participate in a program for healing, a woman who has been sexually betrayed can change her own life in powerful and permanent ways. This sensitive guide provides practical tools to help you make wise and empowering decisions, emotional tools to develop greater intimacy in your life, and spiritual tools to transform your suffering.

The pain endured from sexual betrayal can break your heart, but it does not need to break your life. Click here to write your own review.


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For Him. Troubled Marriages. Study Tools. Radio Broadcasts. Suppose two people meet every morning at seven o'clock for coffee before work, and they never tell their partners. Even though it might be in a public place, their partner is not going to be happy about it. It is going to feel like a betrayal, a terrible deception. Emotional intimacy is the second element.

When someone starts confiding things to another person that they are reluctant to confide to their partner, and the emotional intimacy is greater in the friendship than in the marriage, that's very threatening.

One common pathway to affairs occurs when somebody starts confiding negative things about their marriage. What they're doing is signaling: "I'm vulnerable; I may even be available. The third element is sexual chemistry. That can occur even if two people don't touch. If one says, "I'm really attracted to you," or "I had a dream about you last night, but, of course, I'm married, so we won't do anything about that," that tremendously increases the sexual tension by creating forbidden fruit in the relationship.

HM: Another question you told me people now ask is, "Are you a liar if you lie about an affair? SG: Lying goes with the territory. If you're not lying, you have an open marriage. There may be lies of omission or lies of commission. The lie of omission is, "I had to stop at the gym on my way home. The lies of commission are the elaborate deceptions people create. The more deception and the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to rebuild trust in the wake of an affair.

HM: The deception makes a tremendous psychological difference to the betrayed spouse. What about to the person who constructed the deception? SG: Once the affair's been discovered, the involved partner could have a sense of relief, if they hate lying and don't see themselves as having that kind of moral character.

They'll say, "I can't understand how I could have done a thing like this, this is not the kind of person I am. Some people thrive on the game. For them, part of the passion and excitement of an affair is the lying and getting away with something forbidden. There are some people who have characterological problems, and the affair may be a symptom of that.

Such people lie about their accomplishments; they are fraudulent in business. When it's characterological, I don't know any way to rebuild trust; no one can ever be on sure footing with that person. SG: Which is why some people, no matter how unhappy they are in their marriage, don't have affairs. They can't make the compromise.

Shattered Vows

Or they feel they have such an open relationship with the spouse that they just could not do something like that without telling their partner about it. SG: Affairs are often a chance for people to try out new behaviors, to dress in a different costume, to stretch and grow and assume a different role.

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Shattered Vows

In a long-term relationship, we often get frozen in our roles. When young couples begin at one level of success and go on to many achievements, the new person sees them as they've become, while the old person sees them as they were.

The unfortunate thing is that the way a person is different in the affair would, if incorporated into the marriage, probably make their spouse ecstatic. But they believe they're stuck; they don't know how to create opportunity for change within the marriage. A woman who was sexually inhibited in marriage -- perhaps she married young and had no prior partners -- may find her sexuality in an affair, but her husband would probably be thrilled to encounter that new self.

SG: After an affair, I do not ask the question you would expect. The spouse always wants to know about "him" or "her": "What did you see in her that you didn't see in me? How can we foster that part of you in this relationship? SG: There is an attraction in the affair, and I try to understand what it is. Part of it is the romantic projection : I like the way I look when I see myself in the other person's eyes. There is positive mirroring. An affair holds up a vanity mirror, the kind with all the little bulbs around it; it gives a rosy glow to the way you see yourself.

By contrast, the marriage offers a makeup mirror; it magnifies every little flaw. When someone loves you despite seeing all your flaws, that is a reality-based love. In the stories of what happened during the affair, people seem to take on a different persona, and one of the things they liked best about being in that relationship was the person they had become.

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The man who wasn't sensitive or expressive is now in a relationship where he is expressing his feelings and is supportive. SG: That's one of the goals -- not to turn the betrayed spouse into the affair partner, but to free the unfaithful spouse to express all the parts of himself he was able to experience in the affair.

I see a lot of men who are married to very competent women and having affairs with very weak women. They feel: "This person needs me. They feel very good about themselves. That makes me sad, because I know that even though their partner may be extremely competent, she wants to be stroked too.

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She wants a knight in shining armor. Perhaps she hasn't known how to ask. SG: No. People can create a pattern in the marriage that is not enhancing, and the partner, instead of dealing with the dissatisfaction and trying to work on the relationship, escapes it and goes someplace else. Generally when a woman is unhappy, she lets her partner know.

She feels better because she's gotten it off her chest. It doesn't interfere with her love. She's trying to improve the relationship: "If I tell him what makes me unhappy, then he will know how to please me; I am giving him a gift by telling him. Unfortunately, many men don't see it as a gift. They feel criticized and put down. Instead of thinking, "She feels lonely; I will move toward her and make her feel secure," they think, "What is wrong with her?

Shattered Vows: Priests Who Leave

Didn't I just do that? If they come in contact with somebody else who says to them, "Oh, you're wonderful," then they move toward that person. They aren't engaged enough in the marriage to work things out. The partner keeps trying and becomes more unpleasant because he's not responding. SG: When she withdraws, the marriage is much further down the road to dissolution, because she's given up. Her husband, unfortunately, thinks things are so much better because she's no longer complaining.

He doesn't recognize that she has detached and become emotionally available for an affair. The husband first notices it when she becomes disinterested in sex -- or after she's left! Then he'll do anything to keep her. That is often too little too late. SG: Yes, which is why when women have affairs, it's much more often a result of long-term marital dissatisfaction.