Cheating Partners and Couples Therapy
"What a kid I got, I told him about the birds and the bees and he told me about the butcher and my wife".
- Rodney Dangerfield
How Can Therapy Help?
In a significant number of cases the relationship has become strained in ways that have little to do with the simple desire for another sexual partner. Competing priorities, lack of shared positive experience, a pattern of negative interactions, deficient communication, or other environmental variables can lead to the emotional distancing that is conducive to an affair. In many cases, affairs begin because the subject of the affair provides some aspect of need that the unfaithful person perceives to be missing in the primary relationship, and this is where effective communication with a therapist can help. Hopefully before infidelity begins.
For those that have already been the victim of infidelity - we can start with this:
The emotional pain you are experiencing is your healing, and if you choose to accept it this experience can make you stronger. It can level up your resiliency, help you to re-invent or re-establish your values and purpose, and it can be exceptional motivator for positive changes toward the development of increased individual mental strength.
For those couples that choose to attempt to rebuild their relationships after an affair, the most important first step is knowing both parties in the marriage are committed, or at least open, to repairing the relationship. Below are some generalized steps to familiarize you with the process of couples therapy after an affair:
For effective couples therapy in the wake of an affair to begin, the person who has strayed must sever all ties (to the extent possible) with the other lover, and commit to full honesty and transparency with one’s spouse. This is the only way to start rebuilding trust. Transparency includes open access to texts, emails, social media accounts, and viewing STI test results, and is based on what the victim of the affair feels that they need to begin healing. Transparency also requires answering the questions about the affair from your partner (in therapy ) honestly - if dishonesty is suspected or discovered a re-victimization will occur, and trust will again be broken. It's important to expect and accept that the victim of the affair is often emotionally volatile during this phase, and is likely struggling with some symptoms of post traumatic stress.
Almost all questions related to the affair can and should be asked in order help the process of rebuilding trust - the who, where, when, and how are all part of the process, but it is best to refrain from questioning related to the what, with regard to the sexual activity, as this can lead to increased distress, added imagery to flashbacks, and increased trauma and resentment.
Because trust has been broken, the person who has been the victim of the infidelity will require consistent displays of trustworthiness, generally through actions rather than words. This process, depending on the relationship's circumstances and the individual, can sometimes take months or even years, but can be sped up with honesty and transparency, and a commitment to starting a second marriage, one that is better than the first.
Creating a better second marriage includes re-connecting with your partner intimately, and learning new skills regarding effective relationship communication, tackling conflict, and finding or creating shared meaning, purpose, values, and positive experiences.
Moving past an affair isn't easy, but with commitment to therapy, transparency, honesty, and shared positive experience a new relationship that is more fulfilling than the last is possible. If you are in this situation and want to pursue therapy, contact us today.