I have great admiration for Esther Perel. A relationship therapist who doesn’t pull punches, she simply tells it like it is with confidence and poise. Her latest TED talk may catch the eye of the unfaithful but, as she says, it’s for anyone who has ever loved.
I was drawn to it after speaking with someone suffering post-affair-revelation. So much pain. And having listened to their woes, was struck by Perel’s accurate replication of every single stage of the process – from what draws us toward infidelity, its ongoing magnetism, through the misery on the other side of discovery. The mirroring between my colleague’s story and Perel’s revelations took my breath away. She really knows her stuff and, as a result, has something for us all in the realm of love, fidelity, infidelity and how to make relationships work. She says wryly “I’m monogamous in all my relationships.”
My training as a relationship therapist focused on the systemic nature of the family, how interactions tend to form patterns, becoming more entrenched over time. It also concentrated on how to improve communication, particularly for the couple in trouble – this could be prior to making a commitment, whether marriage or not; after the arrival of children when the quality of the relationship often takes a dive; or when decades of togetherness produces a sense of predictability. “Where’s the spark gone?” they ask. The lack of the spark is often what drives one or other into the arms of someone else. It’s less to do with sex and much more to do with appreciation, acknowledgment, a sense of being heard and really seen.