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Kathy Marshack News

Sexual Infidelity in the Family Firm – What Can Be Done?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


sexual infidelity in the family firmMargo was dumbfounded. She just discovered that her son Brett was having an affair with one of their employees, while his unsuspecting wife was at home caring for their two children. She knew that Brett was having trouble at home, but she thought with the marriage counseling things were back in order.

Of course Glen, Brett's father had "indulged" in a few flings when he was younger, but Margo was sure Brett knew nothing of this. Brett's actions created a tremendous weight of responsibility for Margo as the matriarch of the family and as co-owner with her husband Glen of the family business. How was she to handle this problem? Who should know about it? Who already knew?

Margo's story, unfortunately, is common. When a family also is part of a larger system such as a family firm, the web of entanglement reaches out not only to other family members, but also to employees, vendors, customers, business advisers, and the myriad other people who are part of the family/business system. They are often aware of the problem but feel helpless to do anything. Some try to ignore it and carry on with work. Others may be so brave as to offer advice. Most worry about their future because they doubt the leadership that’s ignoring or allowing the infidelity. Deception makes people uncomfortable and uncomfortable people make mistakes. As the internal discomfort escalates, and the mistakes escalate, and the stress escalates, the problem can spill out to customers, vendors and others you do business with.

What can be done to save the family and business from the consequences of sexual infidelity?

The solution almost always comes in two parts: First, you must understand the nature of infidelity itself or why it happens at all. Second, you must understand the effects that infidelity has on the entire family/business system.

Infidelity is seldom just about sex. Infidelity is a symptom, just as a sore throat is about a cold coming on. Symptoms tell us there is a problem needing attending to. If you have a sore throat you should rest, drink fluids and take some aspirin. If you press on through, chances are your cold will be twice as bad. Infidelity is like that. There were probably symptoms long before the first act of indiscretion, but no one was looking or listening for it.

The issue here is not to blame or focus narrowly on the indiscretion, but to search for the root or roots of the problems, and then to build an intervention. When you’re in the middle of this kind of emotional uproar, you aren't always capable of thinking clearly on your own. You need the objective guidance of a professional trained in helping families heal from psychological assaults – someone who can gently guide the family members back to some semblance of common sense and solutions that work instead of hiding the problem as Margo and Glen had done years ago. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment before the situation escalates.

Want to know what Margo did next? Find out here.

Learn more on my website: Marriage Counseling.



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