By psychologist Angie Willcocks
Q: I've recently found out my FIFO partner has had an emotional affair. I believe strongly he has had physical affairs before. We have been married for a long time and have children, and I am at a loss.
A: I'm really sorry to hear that things have been difficult for you with your partner. I assume that by "emotional affair" you mean that your partner has turned to someone else to share his emotions, and to give and receive emotional support.
Many people find emotional affairs as hard to cope with as physical affairs, because they can be even more intimate. I’m sorry that this has happened to you.
I definitely think that the first step should be for you to seek some personal counselling for yourself – to talk through what you have found out, and why you think he has had affairs in that past. Counselling can also help you to work out what you want to do next.
I firmly believe that couples can overcome an episode of infidelity if they work very hard together on understanding what happened. Unfortunately, I don’t see that the outcome is as positive when there has been more than one case of infidelity in a long-term relationship.
Of course, people choose to stay in a relationship for all sorts of reasons, and some choose to stay even knowing that their partner is unfaithful. If you do decide to continue with the relationship it would be a good idea to have an open discussion with your partner about how this might work for you two. Again, counselling will help you to clarify your thoughts and feelings about this.
Whatever happens, please make sure that you take good care of yourself in the meantime, and have a chat with your doctor if your sleeping and eating are affected by the stress you’re currently under.
Mining Family Matters aims to break down the barriers of isolation and the stresses of living away from family and friends. Although this website provides general advice from a psychologist and practical tips from mining families, the content should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. Always speak to your doctor or specialist provider for advice on a specific medical condition. If you are depressed and require urgent assistance, call 9-1-1 or visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website at www.cmha.ca.
Angie Willcocks is a registered psychologist with a private practice in Adelaide, South Australia. www.angiewillcocks.com.