Is Infidelity a Relationship Deal-Breaker?
Not always. Not all partners automatically separate after an affair is uncovered. What to do is their choice. Although many couples separate and get divorced, others stay together in misery and mistrust. Partners who either keep the affair secret or refuse to talk about it openly have a much higher rate of separation and divorce or they perpetuate their suffering together.
Can the Partnership Be Renewed?
Yes, often it can be restored even after such an unexpected and upsetting experience. About 75% of marriages in the USA survive an affair and continue in partnership. The couples who discuss and admit to the deceptive behaviors and mutual contributions that set up the affair recover best.
Discovery of an infidelity usually creates a great deal of confusion, upheaval and emotional reactivity. Repairing the damage to the relationship and to each partner is a difficult pathway.
Many complex variables are at play and contribute to the possibility of recovery. Without a strong commitment from both partners, infidelity can destroy a relationship. Both partners must want to work on and improve their relationship. With a strong commitment to staying together, the partnership can often be revived.
Therapy for Infidelity
Infidelity therapy with an empathic and experienced therapist usually yields a higher chance for success in saving relationships and marriages. Therapy takes time, money and a strong determination by both partners to overcome painful obstacles along the way.
The Negative Impact of Infidelity
Relationships and marriages are built on trust. When that basic faith in the other is destroyed then the couple’s trust can be damaged. Not surprisingly, some partnerships cannot be rejuvenated in the face of betrayal.
The inability to repair a relationship may be caused by sudden and persistent psychological factors, such as:
- Loss of self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of security
- Shattered bonding and attachment
- Loss of affection, intimacy and sexuality
- Shock and disbelief
- Psychological trauma impact
- Emotional instability
- Feelings of betrayal and violation
- Hatred and revenge
- Damage to children and nuclear family
- Damage and shame with friends and extended family members
- Deep psychological wounding
- Anger, resentment and blame
- Guilt, shame and embarrassment
- Depression, grief and anxiety
- Disillusionment about life
- Doubt about the worth of the relationship
- Getting stuck in resentment, fear and revenge
Assess Each Other for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Many hurt partners experience PTSD after discovering infidelity. Here are the symptoms to look for:
- Re-playing or re-experiencing events
- Intrusive thoughts, memories and dreams
- Intense and prolonged distress
If the hurt partner suffers with PTSD then counseling is definitely recommended.
Challenging Steps that Need to Be Taken to Ensure Recovery
In order to re-build the relationship/marriage, with or without a therapist’s guidance, partners will need to take some significant action steps and struggle with the following:
- Accept that you are in crisis
- Unfaithful partner must end the relationship and stop all communication with their affair partner
- Assess the damage done without minimizing or denying it
- Assess the depth of the trauma experienced by the hurt partner
- Acknowledge that the hurt partner may be traumatized
- Prevent further damage
- Commit to working on a resolution no matter how painful or long it takes
- Create a safe and protected environment for discussions
- Be honest and earnest
- Develop protective ground rules and agreements to abide by
- Unfaithful partner must take full responsibility for their affair behavior
- Unfaithful partner must admit to violating, betraying and deceiving
- Unfaithful partner must validate and tolerate the hurt partner’s demands, confusion and intense emotional reactions
- Unfaithful partner must provide sincere apology
- Unfaithful partner must answer questions truthfully
- Unfaithful partner must present facts but not all the sexual details
- Reveal, explain and examine the “affair story” and events
- Acknowledge and understand the causes behind the unfaithful behavior
- Uncover how each partner contributed to the affair
- Acknowledge the surrounding shame, embarrassment, guilt and fear
- Address and process the trauma experienced by the hurt partner
- Expect emotional and behavioral regressions along the path to recovery
- Refrain from keeping secrets, lying, deceiving and exaggerating
- Deal with obstacles and impasses as they arise
- Embrace a positive vision of your future together
- Hurt partner gradually regains emotional control
- Both partners eventually take responsibility for their part in the affair
- Develop a plan for sustaining relationship stability
- Rebuild safety and trust
- Reconciling and re-building the partnership
- Re-emergence of affection, intimacy and sexuality
- Forgiveness is very gradually approached over a long period of time
Seek Therapy for Infidelity
Many couples will not be able to work through this crisis without an experienced psychotherapist who understands and has experience with the relationship rebuilding process. Infidelity provokes a flood of emotions and distracting thoughts. Many partnership and marriages cannot manage the disappointment and emotional intensity on their own without guidance and support.
For more information about “Therapy for Infidelity”, please visit my web page at: http://www.drrevelmiller.com/what-we-treat/therapy-for-infidelity/
I have also posted a number of other articles about infidelity and affairs on this blog. You can find them by clicking on the blog category here: http://www.drrevelmiller.com/category/therapy-for-infidelity/