After the devastating blow of infidelity, intense emotions and recurrent crises are the norm. Initially, one partner in the relationship may feel that a separation or divorce is the answer. But the reality is that relationships don’t have to end because of infidelity. In fact, many can become stronger and more intimate after couples therapy.
How often do couples come in for counseling after infidelity?
A lot. In fact, Infidelity is one of the most common presenting problems for couples therapists. While the majority of couples disapprove of infidelity, some national surveys indicate that 15% of women and 25% of men have experienced affairs outside of their long-term committed relationships.
What are common responses couples have after the discovery of infidelity?
Following the awareness of an affair, it is common for both partners to experience depression, anxiety, intense anger and a profound sense of loss. The reactions of the injured person often begin as acute stress that resembles the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. A loss of innocence along with profound grief for the way things were, can soon create the need to obsessively analyze the details of the affair and continuously watch for further signs of betrayal.
Once someone confronts his/her partner regarding an affair, the communication often resembles the adversarial interaction between a detective and a criminal. This long and painful exchange process between both parties can often feel unending. Many people report a sort of brain “hijacking” or “psychic virus” that prevents them from feeling calm and peaceful along with the fear that they will never feel safe again.
Often, the most severely traumatized are those who had the greatest trust and were the most unsuspecting – while the involved partner may fear that they will be punished forever for the betrayal and may grieve for the lost dreams associated with the affair.
What is the goal of counseling after infidelity and what are sessions like?
The goal here is to get both partners together and rebuild the relationship. We often find that couples need to work on rebuilding their communication or in some other cases, work toward separating in a constructive way. Individual therapy sessions are needed in addition to couples work. Intensive half day or two-hour blocks of therapy are also beneficial.
What is the healing and recovery process like after discovering infidelity?
Healing and recovery can and often does occur if a couple is willing to work hard and stay with painful emotion and an acceptance of the new discoveries learned about each other. This learning can create a new chapter of understanding about who you both thought you were and how you understand each other now.
This more realistic appraisal will leave room in the relationship to create a stronger, more transparent couple-centered partnership where the relationship is the highest priority. Trust, commitment, mutual empathy, and a shared responsibility for change are now part of your relationship.
If your relationship is impacted by infidelity, we are equipped to help. With many years combined experience in couples work, our therapists will guide you through the recovery process and work towards, growing, healing and enriching your relationship. Call, text or email us today!