Using T.A. in Dealing with Affairs
by Peggy Vaughan

Dealing with this whole mess is so emotional that it's VERY hard to think straight enough to get any real understanding and perspective about the whole situation. Thinking clearly involves TRYING to avoid letting the emotion-laden, judgmental, right-and-wrong perspective completely dominate your thinking.

One thing that helped me tremendously is a concept called "Transactional Analysis" (TA). (Frankly, I believe it was the key to my surviving the initial blast of information about my husband's affairs.) So I want to provide a little background on why I think so highly of this "tool" for communicating.

T.A. is based on understanding that all of us have the capacity for 3 different ways of viewing the world and the events in our life.
1. We can view them from the "Parental" part of ourselves (based on being critical and judgmental).
2. We can view them from the "Child" part of ourselves (being supersensitive and hurt).
3. We can view them from the "Adult" part of ourselves - which TAKES INTO ACCOUNT the judgments of the "parent" and the pain of the "child," but filters all that through the rational, problem-solving part of ourselves.

In other words, we don't try to deny our judgments or emotions, but we try not to be CONTROLLED by them.

Here's an excerpt from Beyond Affairs (the book that tells my personal story) about the impact of my experience with T.A. on my own ability to cope with my emotions:

"In January, 1974, I made a trip to Richmond, Virginia, to attend a workshop on communication using TA (Transactional Analysis). The workshop was very positive for me, but the important thing was the trip itself. I had NEVER made a trip alone in my whole life. I was so excited I couldn't sleep at all the first night in the hotel. I wasn't nervous or upset, just wonderfully happy to be doing something completely on my own. The workshop only lasted a couple of days, but it was a big step for me. I realized what a "Child" I had been in my relationship with James and how it was possible to relate to him more as an "Adult." This meant not being controlled by my emotions.

"I actually heard very little of what James said before he got to the point of, "Yes, he had been having affairs all those years." Finally - I knew for sure! But I wanted to know more. I'd lived with so many questions for such a long time. Now I wanted to check out all my suspicions and find out just who and where and when it all happened. He tried to tell me everything I wanted to know. I was pretty overwhelmed, but was hearing it the way he was telling it - with a lot of love and caring for me. To my surprise, and his, I continued to listen. I didn't cry or scream, or hit him, or any of the things he was afraid I might do. I believe my experience at the TA seminar earlier that week was a big help in being able to stay in my "Adult" through the whole thing and keep my emotions under control. My reaction was also affected by the tremendous relief I felt at finally knowing the truth."

(end of excerpt from Beyond Affairs)

As you can see, the "luck" of my having just attended a 2-day workshop on TA made a HUGE difference in my ability to avoid "being controlled by my emotions." The seminar leader of that workshop (back in 1974) was Muriel James, who is the author of a book titled: "Born to Win: Transactional Analysis With Gestalt Experiments." For anyone who wants to learn more about TA, there is now a 25th Anniversary Edition. If you can't find it in bookstores, it's available through

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