Dr. Luann Linquist

Advice for Therapists

By Dr. Luann Linquist


The Bridges of Madison County was a best-seller for 162 weeks. The movie version grossed over $70 million. You know the story: An Iowa farm wife finds herself in the throes of a sizzling affair with a roving photographer. His tender attention and fiery passion make her aware that her marriage has become sexually and emotionally unfulfilling.

Many people relate to the plight of this lonely farm wife -- which might account for the tale's popularity. What lessons can be learned?

Generally, as therapists, we see an affair as a sign that there is something wrong in the marriage, or that the married lover should either correct the situation or get out of the marriage. This is because in our work we see more negatives than positives come out of affairs. However, as you know, there's more than one side to a story. My reseach illuminates the patterns, passions, as well as the pitfalls of long term extra-marital affairs.

Here are some suggestions and cautions you may use with your clients who are involved in an affair. Work with them to:

  1. Recognize their motives or needs in having the affair so they can decide if they are getting what they really need or want.
  2. Be clear about the level of deception they can live with comfortably, and work out agreements about how to handle this in their relationship.
  3. Accept the affair for what it is, and enjoy it in the here and now without expectations about the future.
  4. Recognize living in separate worlds with separate identities to maintain the secrecy of the affair.
  5. Decide if they want to do anything to improve their marriage or get out of it.
  6. Examine their feelings of self-esteem and self-worth if they are a single lover. Is the affair really something they want, or are they involved in it because they feel unworthy of a committed relationship?
  7. Look at the affair as a way of helping them satisfy current needs to grow as a person. View the affair as a way to bring out different aspect of themselves, and use it to learn more about themselves and their own potential.
  8. Understand the illusion/fantasy aspects of the affair that provide an outlet from everyday living, an escape.
  9. Avoid an addictive relationship which can be extremely damaging. Instead, build up self-esteem to overcome feelings of neediness or dependency.
  10. Acknowledge the transitional aspects of an affair.

"It's easy for a couple to drift apart," says one married client. "From now on I'm going to make more time for my spouse. I'm going to keep our spiritual connection strong."
A single client says: "I'm going to be patient and wait for my soul mate. I used to settle for someone who tried to make me happy -- even if they failed. Now I know I need the real thing."

SECRET LOVERS, Affairs Happen...How to Cope
by Dr Luann Linquist
ISBN 0-669-27666-9

Luann Linquist, Ph.D., MCC, founder of DeleteStress.com, is a noted speaker, coach, author and therapist who enhances relationships and communication by utilizing "The DELETE technique" -- a cutting-edge, rapid-response integrative process that rapidly eliminates obstacles created by work-life stress, anxiety, and phobias that people have been struggling with for months and even years.

Dr. Luann Linquist, MCC

Call: 1−858−581−1122

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