“Anita was devastated when she discovered that her husband was having an affair with her best friend. She was naïve and trusting, thinking that their friendship was all innocent. After all, her husband got along with all her friends, teased and treated them like his own friends. Why shouldn’t she trust him? He was her husband.”
“Michael insisted that he had found his soul mate after a chance meeting with someone on a business trip. He thought, 'How could I have possibly married my wife when we are total opposites? There is nothing to keep us together.' He convinced himself that if he did not take this chance with this new woman, he would never find his life’s true happiness.” -- from the book Affairs Don’t Just Happen
One of the saddest hashtags coined in the recent past is #walangforever. Its popularity came into play with the seemingly explosion of local teleseryes and movies dealing with extra-marital affairs, betrayal and infidelity. Hollywood did not help by the high-profile divorces and break-ups of A-list actors and actresses. The plot often shows the lover winning over the spouse and the spouse in turn, leaving the marriage or the relationship.
“My counseling colleagues were telling me that their cases have significantly risen, they were truly afraid and insecure and the use of private detective to ensure the “safety” of their marriage was increasing.” It was this scenario that prompted Lissy Ann Abella-Puno to write the book, Affairs Don’t Just Happen: Protect – Repair – Recover.
A certified counseling psychologist in the Philippines and Singapore who has been married for 27 years to her college sweetheart, Lissy Ann has spent 25 years working with multi-cultural couples from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore and is currently in private practice as founder of the International Counseling & Psychology Centre in Singapore. One of her mentors during her practice had been US-based Dr. Tammy Nelson, author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship after Infidelity.
Her job has given her a front row seat on the troubles that plague relationships -- and what makes for long-lasting love. And one advice she never tires of giving is don't wait too long if you think your marriage needs saving. “In my own counseling experience of clients, couples were coming in too late when the affair has set in for years and they were ready to leave the marriage. It was a greater challenge to save the marriage. Couples would share that they have fallen out love, they were like roommates, and they were bored and lonely. They were ready to move on.
“Marriages were being easily disposed of. Just like gadgets, easily replaceable. I wanted to prevent this and to help couples stay committed.”
When asked whether “a cheater will always be a cheater,” Lissy Ann replied, “There are certain types of personality disorders that will most likely commit an infidelity. These are the personalities that have a grandiose sense of self and entitlement to do what they want. They also lack feelings of empathy towards others that do not allow them to imagine the pain of their partner. They can also be careless, impulsive and has a lack of self-control.”
She adds, “Addictive personalities are also found to be serial philanderers because they cannot emotionally connect with their partners. They have a bottomless pit of unfulfilled needs. They can be obsessive and impulsive around their desires.”
The book, released in Manila this November, contains numerous case studies of real-life extra-marital affairs (the lines at the top of this article are two examples). It identifies the triggers, the signs and the stages it goes through before the relationship becomes too late for recovery. It asks readers to recall their own experiences, look at it with fresh set of eyes, and identify any “weak” spots that can be protected and repaired.
In the end, Lissy Ann assures the readers that “the book is not only about affairs but about how to keep relationship and marriage safe. The book is preventive and it will provide strategies that will maintain your connection in a deeper and loving way.”
The book listed down eight do-able and easy ways (8Cs) to affair-proof a marriage/relationship. In summary, these are staying:
CENTERED Know yourself and express your needs clearly as requests. CURIOUS Stay interested in each other and stay interesting – it work both ways. CONNECTED Share your deepest thoughts and feelings with each other. CARING Behave in thoughtful and caring ways CALENDAR Make time for each other. COMMUNICATE Regularly talk and listen to one another. Don’t let days and weeks pass without doing this. CHERISH Keep the other as the most special in your life. COMMITTED Reaffirm your decision to love during moments of “falling out of love.” Find ways how to be the right one for your partner.
In case where the affair has already happened, the book offers advice for the unfaithful spouse, the betrayed spouse and together as one, the grieving couple. The road to recovery can be very difficult but as experienced by the author in her practice, it can be done.
Lissy Ann encourages couples to use the book to keep their marriage safe. She says, “Repair it quickly and not wait until they have strayed or an affair has come into the picture and recover the marriage through the years.”
It is a must-read book for people who would like to change the hashtag of their life from #walangforever to #mayforever.
The book is available in local book stores. For more information, check out its Facebook page @affairsdontjusthappen or www.lissypuno.com.