A: “Your spouse may be tired of talking about it, or maybe they have nothing else to say to you. So you go back to that platonic friendship that you’ve been cultivating at work. There’s initially nothing wrong with that friendship, but when you’re undergoing terrific stress, that friendship can come to mean more than it should.”
Q: I feel like you’re talking about Gov. Sanford.
A: “Well, I think Gov. Sanford’s probably a poster child for this kind of thing.”
Q: Or Sen. Ensign - in his case, the affair was with the wife of a former aide - their families were longtime friends.
A: “As far as friendships go, in the book, ‘Close Calls,’ I have a list of 19 characteristics that over 10 to 12 years … can make these friendships become very intense.”
Q: What kind of advice would you give to Gov. Sanford and others caught in affairs?
A: “I would hope his therapist is helping him medically recover from this affair. A lot of my clients require anti-anxiety, antidepression medication because they can’t sleep … right now. Only the infatuation feels normal. They need help to get out of this. They’re exhausted, they’re confused, they’re not thinking straight.”
“Also, if he’s still staying in electronic contact with [the mistress], he’s not getting sober, and he is not working on his issues, and he is not working on the marriage … . He’s like the alcoholic trying to recover, but he’s still drinking.”
Q. What would you say to Mrs. Sanford or other wives?
A: “If anything she does can be hired [out], she should do it. She needs to let go of that, let a hired hand do it. And then she can do the [adultery recovery] stuff that a hired hand can’t do.”
Q: I’ve heard it takes 21/2 years for a marriage to really recover from adultery. Do you agree?
A: “Definitely. The second anniversary of the end of the affair is the most critical. The first anniversary (like with death or divorce) is very difficult, very sad; you often feel like you’re back at square one with all the grieving and anger. But at the second one, you can start talking about this experience as part of your history, and not feeling all the deep emotion attached to it.”
Q: What about couples who can’t reconcile?
A: “Even if couples divorce, they still have to forgive each other, because they will share the kids. Work through the forgiveness, rebuild some of the respect you’ve both lost for each other and rebuild some of the trust, because you are going to really have to trust each other if you live separately.”
Q: We’ve had a ‘marriage renaissance’ movement now for more than a decade. Are we learning anything?