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Infidelity and Marital Separation Comprehensive Counseling Services 100 Four Falls Corporate Center, Suite 312 West Conshohocken, PA 19428 www.maritalhealing.com.

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Presentation on theme: "Infidelity and Marital Separation Comprehensive Counseling Services 100 Four Falls Corporate Center, Suite 312 West Conshohocken, PA 19428 www.maritalhealing.com."— Presentation transcript:

1 Infidelity and Marital Separation Comprehensive Counseling Services 100 Four Falls Corporate Center, Suite 312 West Conshohocken, PA copyright 2007 © Richard P. Fitzgibbons

2 2 Communion with God & One’s Spouse “The twofold communion with God and with one another is inseparable. Wherever communion with God, which is communion with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is destroyed, the root and source of our communion with one another are destroyed. And wherever we do not live communion among ourselves, communion with the Trinitarian God is not alive and true either.” Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus, The Apostles, and the Early Church, p. 18

3 3 The Marital Covenant “The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. From their covenant arises ‘an institution, confirmed by the divine law…even in the eyes of society.’ The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: ‘Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.’” CCC, n. 1639d

4 4 John Paul II & marital stress “We can realize how important prayer is with families and for families, in particular for those threatened by division. We need to pray that married couples will love their vocation, even when the road becomes difficult, or the paths become narrow, uphill and seemingly insuperable,” Letter to Families.

5 5 Tolkien to his son, Michael "Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him--as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial."

6 6 Tolkien Tolkien traced unhappiness in marriage, especially on the part of the husband, to the Church's failure to teach these truths and to speak of marriage honestly. Those who see marriage as nothing more than the arena of ecstatic and romantic love will be disappointed, Tolkien understood. "When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to be found. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along."

7 7 Infidelity & Church teaching “Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents’ stable union,”CCC, n

8 8 Marital fidelity “By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement “until further notice.” The “intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them,” CCC, n. 1646

9 9 Prevalence of infidelity A survey of 884 men and 1,288 women found that 77% of married men and 88% of married women remained faithful to their spouses. Wiederman, M.(1997) Extramarital sex: Prevalence and correlates in a national survey. J of Sex Research 34:170

10 10 Prevalence of infidelity University of Chicago national survey found that that 75% of husbands and 85% of wives never had sexual relations outside of marriage. Laumann,E.O., et al. (1994) The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Table 5.15, 216

11 11 Prevalence A highly regarded survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has found that 22 percent of men have had a sex partner other than their spouse while married, compared to 13 percent of women. (The figures are an average of the years between 1991 and 2004.) Whisman M.A., et al., (2007) Predicting sexual infidelity in a population-based sample of married individuals. J Fam Psychol. 21(2):320-4.

12 12 Origins and prevalence Annual prevalence of infidelity was 2.3% (2,291). Controlling for marital dissatisfaction and demographic variables, infidelity was predicted by greater neuroticism and lower religiosity. Whisman M.A., et al., (2007) Predicting sexual infidelity in a population-based sample of married individuals. J Fam Psychol. 21(2):320-4.

13 13 Healing Uncovering Decision Work Acceptance Faith

14 14 Origins of Marital Infidelity Lack of understanding of the sacrament Lack of understanding of the sacrament Lack of faith Lack of faith Serious marital conflicts Serious marital conflicts Selfishness/materialism/sense of entitlement Selfishness/materialism/sense of entitlement Dominating, disrespectful spouse Dominating, disrespectful spouse Loneliness in marriage/depression - no sense of spouse as one’s best friend/little positive communication Loneliness in marriage/depression - no sense of spouse as one’s best friend/little positive communication

15 15 Origins of marital infidelity Attempt to escape from responsibilities Attempt to escape from responsibilities Mistrustful/anxious spouse - spouse as another child Mistrustful/anxious spouse - spouse as another child Inability to please one’s spouse/lack of praise Inability to please one’s spouse/lack of praise Unresolved family of origin loneliness Unresolved family of origin loneliness Weak confidence/poor body image Weak confidence/poor body image

16 16 Origins of marital infidelity Lack of balance in married life with failure to attend to romantic aspect, marital friendship and sexual intimacy/betrothed love Seriously disordered priorities - placement of work, others, sports, children, etc. before God & spouse Anger and desire to punish spouse Compulsive use of pornography Previous promiscuity

17 17 Infidelity - Acute stress disorder Development of characteristic symptoms of anxiety, dissociative and other symptoms that occurs within one month after exposure to extremely traumatic stress Sadness/despair Intense anger, rage, hatred, impulses for revenge Profound fears Severely damaged self-esteem

18 18 Post infidelity healing End the relationship Honesty - full disclosure Understand the origins and the depth of the wound to the marital covenant - a Judas experience Request forgiveness - spouse and God Commitment to change and to fidelity Each spouse should be honest about weaknesses in the marriage, e.g., lack of cheerfulness, controlling, disrespectful, negative parental legacy

19 19 Post infidelity healing Rebuild the marital friendship - date nights, etc. Attempt to forgive which is very difficult and is often spiritual Try to show mercy Openness to discuss the affair on a regular basis in order to resolve PTSD symptoms in victim Prudence required in regard to amount of time in discussing the affair

20 20 Post infidelity healing Constant availability by phone/check in regularly Avoid people, places, things, such as the internet at night Trust God and the graces in the sacrament of marriage Surrender to God with one’s pain, fears and the marriage

21 21 Face the Guilt Human nature desires the honesty that looks squarely at the sinful situation, acknowledges it for what it is, and recognizes oneself as being in need. As Psalm 32:5 reminds us, “Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the LORD,’ and you took away the guilt of my sin.” “If you, O Lord, laid bare our guilt, who could endure it? But with you is found forgiveness; for this we revere you,” Psalm 130.

22 22 Post infidelity healing Work on the romantic aspect & intimate aspect of the marriage The sacrament of reconciliation - for guilt & anger The Eucharist and spiritual direction if possible Visit the Church where they took their marital vows and make them again.

23 23 Post Infidelity Healing & Acceptance Very difficult Essential to healing Embrace the cross Try to believe some good can come from it Spiritual direction Their love is in Christ and therefore their suffering is taken up in Him as well.

24 24 Fidelity & freedom “The institution of marriage is not an undue interference by society or authority, nor the extrinsic imposition of a form. Rather it is an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the Creator. A person's freedom, far from being restricted by this fidelity, is secured against every form of subjectivism or relativism and is made a sharer in creative Wisdom”, John Paul II, CF, n. 11

25 25 Fr. Guissani First of all I would try to take them separately and involve them in a reality where they might again catch their breath for the ideal. This would occur in a community, with a company of friends. The possibility of bringing them back together is completely dependant upon the growth in a living and working faith. If they grow in faith, they will also realize the sacrifices that need to be make in order to rescue their sacrament and they will begin to desire this, even if they have difficulty.

26 26 Fr. Guissani Anything else is an unbearable moralism. There is always a possibility of rebuilding the marriage if both accept growing in whatever way necessary. But one cannot leave them to chance, hoping their feelings might change. Giussani, Luigi. “Conversation on Matrimony.” Course Compendium, John Paul II Institute, Sacramentality of Marriage. Fr. Antonio Lopez. Spring p. 350

27 27 Separation & Church teaching “Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble,” CCC, n

28 28 Separation & Church teaching “The separation of spouses while maintaining the marriage bond can be legitimate in certain cases provided for by canon law,”CCC, n Can Spouses have the obligation and the right to maintain their common conjugal life, unless a lawful reason excuses them.

29 29 Canon law & separation Can ß1 It is earnestly recommended that a spouse, motivated by Christian charity and solicitous for the good of the family, should not refuse to pardon an adulterous partner and should not sunder the conjugal life. Nevertheless, if that spouse has not either expressly or tacitly condoned the other's fault, he or she has the right to sever the common conjugal life, provided he or she has not consented to the adultery, nor been the cause of it, nor also committed adultery.

30 30 Canon law & separation Can ß3 Within six months of having spontaneously terminated the common conjugal life (because of adultery), the innocent spouse is to bring a case for separation to the competent ecclesiastical authority. Having examined all the circumstances, this authority is to consider whether the innocent spouse can be brought to condone the fault and not prolong the separation permanently.

31 31 Canon law & separation Can ß1 A spouse who occasions grave danger of soul or body to the other or to the children, or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult, provides the other spouse with a reason to leave, either by a decree of the local Ordinary or, if there is danger in delay, even on his or her own authority. ß2 In all cases, when the reason for separation ceases, the common conjugal life is to be restored, unless otherwise provided by ecclesiastical authority.

32 32 John Paul II & Separation “Various reasons can unfortunately lead to the often irreparable breakdown of valid marriages. These include mutual lack of understanding and the inability to enter into interpersonal relationships. Obviously, separation must be considered as a last resort, after all other reasonable attempts at reconciliation have provided vain,” FC, n. 83.

33 33 Reasonable attempts at reconciliation 1. Response of spouse/family/friends 2. Negative consequences to children 3. Damage to the other spouse and the marriage 4. Faith and the vocation of marriage 5. Healing marital conflicts 6. Appropriate separations

34 34 Reasonable attempts at reconciliation Discourage separation - Do not separate unless the stress is disabling. Offer similar advice to priests and seminarians who fear loneliness Convey the message that the Lord loves marriages and wants to strengthen/heal them Recognize damage caused by separation Do not consider unless the couple has attempted to work intensively on the marriage for at least one year

35 35 Damage to children Often most effective intervention Similar to that of divorce - profound betrayal pain Each year over 1 million children suffer the divorce of their parents Half of children born this year will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach their 18th birthday Intense fears

36 36 Damage to children Loneliness/sadness Torn between 2 worlds Resentment Damage to faith

37 37 Damage to marriage Gives the message that “I no longer value you as a person” Damages betrothed love and the ability to think “We” Harms the marital friendship Can encourage narcissistic thinking Can further damage marital trust In vulnerable, mistrustful spouses it can lead to a severe fear of ever being vulnerable again

38 38 Interventions in Separation Discuss origins from marriage, family of origin, previous betrayals and personality weaknesses Work on the relationship during time of separation Forgive Ask for forgiveness

39 39 Interventions in separation Request spouse to address certain weaknesses Ask spouse to move home and work on the marriage Growth in necessary virtues Give spouse a certain amount of time to address serious conflicts Hold off moving home until weaknesses are addressed

40 40 Family interventions Children over 12 are informed as to the professionally origin(s) of the conflict Children ask the most offending parent to address his/her weaknesses Example - narcissistic, critical father Example - controlling, critical mother

41 41 Intervention by the Church? Can ß3 Within six months of having spontaneously terminated the common conjugal life (because of adultery), the innocent spouse is to bring a case for separation to the competent ecclesiastical authority. Having examined all the circumstances, this authority is to consider whether the innocent spouse can be brought to condone the fault and not prolong the separation permanently.

42 42 Faith and separation “To this list (commenting on the final judgment in Mt. 25:41-43) also we could add other ways of acting, in which Jesus is present in each case as the one who has been rejected. In this way he would identify with the abandoned wife or husband…’You did not welcome me, ’” John Paul II, LF, n. 22. “Don’t be afraid of the risks! God’s strength is always more powerful than your difficulties,” John Paul II, LF, n. 18.

43 43 Faith and separation “There exists in love a particular responsibility - the responsibility for a person who is drawn into the closest possible relationship in life and activity of another,” John Paul II, L&R, p.130) “The greater the feeling of responsibility for the person the more true love there is, “ John Paul II, L&R, p. 131.

44 44 Faith and separation “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Matt. 20:28.

45 45 Understand the marital vocation Fidelity to the end The need for the sacrament for each spouse, children and the Church Vocation to reciprocity and complimentarity To collaboration To communion. John Paul II, Mulieris Digitatem, n. 6

46 46 John Paul II & Separation “Loneliness and other difficulties are often the lot of separated spouses, especially when they are the innocent parties. The ecclesial community must give them much respect solidarity, understanding and practical help, so that they can preserve their fidelity even in their difficult situation; and it must help them to cultivate the need to forgive, which is inherent in Christian love and to be ready perhaps to return to their former married life,”FC, n. 83.

47 47 Reasons for Separation Lack of commitment to change Complete emotional collapse Severe fears Uncontrollable fighting Severely abusive treatment Preferable to live with a relative or a friend if possible

48 48 Benedict XVI “The Church should help couples by preparing them more fully for the sacrament of marriage and by helping married couples to resolve conflicts and form a deeper mutual commitment.” 1/30/06 to Roman Rota

49 49 New programs More online self-help sites which address identifying and resolving conflicts in Catholic marriages Marriage ed programs which discuss growth in virtues necessary for marriage and family life Prayer for marriages and families daily at Mass Priests communicate the benefits of faith and virtues for marriages.

50 50 John Paul II “The families of today must be called back to their original position. They must follow Christ.” FC, 86.

51 51 John Paul II & the Holy Family “I wish to invoke the protection of the Holy Family. Through God’s mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families. It was unique in the world. Its life was passed in anonymity and silence in a little town in Palestine. It underwent trials of poverty, persecution and exile. It glorified God in an incomparably exalted and pure way.

52 52 John Paul II & the Holy Family And it will not fail to help Christian families - indeed, all the families in the world- to be faithful to their day-to-day duties, to bear the cares and tribulations of life, to be open and generous to the needs of others, and to fulfill with joy the plan of God in their regard. May St. Joseph always guard, protect and enlighten families,” FC, n. 86..

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