A poignant Ted Talk, “Rethinking Infidelity…a talk for anyone who has every loved”, by Esther Perel, a leading relationship therapist and author asks us to question contemporary social norms and attitudes about marriage and affairs. With regards to the high divorce rate in our culture, she describes people having ‘happiness entitlement’ so that many are now getting divorced not to be happy but to be happier. She speaks of the social norm that dictates we must leave our partner upon discovering their affair and of the shame one can feel when they instead choose to stay and work on the relationship.
Some of the many positive messages from this talk are that relationships can heal after an affair. In fact, the fear of loss an affair incites can actually rekindle desire and create a depth in conversations that a couple may not have had in years and consequently foster self growth and discovery.
She explains a crucial ingredient to healing is that the person who had the affair feels and expresses their remorse and concern about hurting their partner therefore demonstrating to their partner they have not forgotten the damage the affair created.
Esther maintains that in contemporary western culture, you will have three main relationships or marriages in your adult life. After an affair, your first marriage is over. It is up to you to decide if you want to create the second one together.