Relationship Counseling for Individuals and Couples
Affairs & Infidelity
"A single moment can change us forever. After you learn that you have been betrayed, you think in terms of the time before and the time after. The private calamity of discovering that your partner has become someone you don't recognize and has lied to you as if you were an enemy blows your secure world to pieces. You no longer trust your eyes to see, your brain to comprehend, or your heart to feel what's true.
The connection between what you think and you know and your sense of reality has been severed. It doesn't matter whether you were totally in the dark or highly suspicious beforehand. No matter what the circumstances, your assumptions about your partner, your marriage and yourself have been shattered." Shirley Glass, PhD
If you are experiencing infidelity at this time, just know that the pain can be intense NOW, the shock may be severe, AND, Recovery of the relationship, IS POSSIBLE.
The majority of marriages and relationships not only survive infidelity, but if both partners work with a Couples Therapy Specialist and work on healing and recovery of the betrayal, many marriage can become stronger through the process.
Browse through this Section of our web site to get immediate help if you are traumatized by a betrayal of infidelity in your relationship.
- The Trauma of Discovery
- What Will Help You Now
- The Myths of Infidelity
- Recovering from Infidelity
- Why Work with a Couples Counseling Specialist
Treatment and Recovery
The first issue to be addressed in therapy is clarifying whether the purpose of treatment is rebuilding the marriage, resolving ambivalence about whether to remain married, or separating in a constructive way. One spouse may want to reconcile while the other spouse is still ambivalent or has decided to leave. Most family therapists work with the couple together as the primary approach. However, an ambivalent spouse or a severely agitated spouse may also need some individual therapy sessions.
One way to help couples rebuild marriages after the disclosure of infidelity is based on an interpersonal trauma model: A process of recovery and healing leading to forgiveness. Below are the stages of recovery that are experiencing during the repair and rebuilding of the relationship:
- The first stage of recovery after the impact of the disclosure establishes safety and
addresses the painful emotions and traumatic symptoms.
- Understanding the vulnerabilities for the EMI and telling the story of the affair consists
of the middle stage.
- Integrating the meaning of the affair into the present and moving on into the future is the
final stage of healing and forgiveness.
A wall of secrecy in the marriage and a window of intimacy in the affair usually characterize extramarital triangles. Reconstructing marriages requires reversing the walls and windows by erecting a wall with the affair partner and a window of honesty with the marriage partner.
Recovery cannot begin until contact with the affair partner is terminated. Stopping an affair does not just mean ending sexual intercourse. All personal discussions, coffee breaks and phone calls must also be stopped. When the affair partner is a co-worker, the contact must be strictly business, and necessary or unplanned encounters must be shared with the spouse in order to rebuild trust.
Telling the Story of the Affair
A guiding principle is how information will enhance healing. However, a destructive process of interrogation and defensiveness never promotes healing, even if the answers are truthful. The initial discussions commonly resemble the adversarial interaction between a detective and a criminal. Simple facts such as who, what, where and when can be answered during the early stage to relieve some of the pressure for information.
It is preferable to delay complex questions about motivations and explicit details about sexual intimacy until the process itself is more healing. The disclosure process evolves in therapy from a truth-seeking inquisition to the neutral process of information seeking – similar to a journalist and an interviewee. The final phase is one of mutual exploration with an empathic process.
Signs of Healing and Recovery
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How We Can Help
At The Institute For Couples Counseling, Karen Greenhouse, PhD, MFT, CSAT is a Couples Therapy Specialist and can help you navigate this discussion and/or inquiry with your partner.
If you have discovered Infidelity or are suspecting it in your relationship, it's important to address this with your partner, sooner rather than later. Please feel free to call or contact me directly NOW for a confidential, complimentary telephone consultation about your concerns and to discuss your options. Contact me at (818) 859-6766 or use the Contact Form to the right to learn how I may be of assistance to you.