ROSEN COUPLES COUNSELLING
Six Things You Need to Know About Infidelity
Extramarital Affairs or Infidelity
Practical suggestions for couples on how to cope with infidelity.
1. Try not to make any decision in the state of affect. The common mistake I see is when the partner who was on the receiving end of the affair talks to children, relatives and friends about their spouse’s infidelity. It may feel good at the moment but you will probably regret it later when your relationship is back on track. It may be very awkward for both of you and the others to spend time together knowing about what happened. I suggest to sit down with your partner, no matter how painful it is, and agree on who should know and who shouldn’t. If both of you agree on that you will avoid unnecessary resentment later on.
2. If you are planning to work on the relationship, end the affair as soon as possible and cut off all possible contact with the other party. This is a must if you want your relationship to survive the next few months which will be rocky even if you do end the affair. Sometimes, it is impossible to cut off all contact with the other party right away. For instance, you still work with them at the office. My suggestion is to start looking for another job as soon as possible. You partner needs to know that you are really serious about removing that person from your life.
3. Spend as much time as possible together. Take time off work, put some extracurricular activities such as committees and other projects on hold and tend to your relationship. It may not be very pleasant at first but it will get better. Spending time together will help control anxiety and mistrust that is probably present in your relationship right now.
4. Usually the partner who was on the receiving end of the affair wants to know all the details about what happened. The other partner feels interrogated and tries to minimize it by providing superficial apologies and saying things like: “I have apologized so many times! Why can’t we just move on and start fresh?” The reality is that both of you need a great deal of patience right now. The person who had an affair needs to understand that they need to go patiently through all the questioning and feel the unpleasant consequences of your actions. This is the best way for you to avoid repeating it in the future. People who get off easy have a higher chance of having another affair in the future. If you are on the receiving end of the affair then you need to know that sometimes people in your situation regret asking about all the details. They say that they are traumatized even more after hearing details because now they can imagine it to the point of being traumatized by it. Of course, people react differently but you need to keep in mind that the answers are probably very unpleasant and even hurtful.
5. If you are the one who had an affair, make sure you provide your partner with temporary access to your phone, email and social media accounts. It is a good idea to have that kind of transparency for at least several months until some of the trust is back in your relationship.
6. Couples counselling is also helpful in understanding what happened in the relationship prior to the affair that possibly led to it. This helps prevent infidelity in the future. It is important to know that reconciliation does not mean forgiving and forgetting. Successful reconciliation means remembering what happened and changing the structure of the relationship to avoid future infidelity.
Extramarital affairs are considered to be the main cause of divorce in North America. Depending on the research study, the frequency of affairs for men and women ranges from 15-40% for women to 30-47% for men. Various couple and family therapists have indicated that the consequences of extramarital affairs are some of the most difficult issues to deal with in couple therapy. It is our experience though that, when both partners are willing to address the infidelity and restore trust in the relationship, success rate of recovering from an affair is very high in couples therapy.
An affair often damages the relationship at its core, at the level of trust. As a result of an affair one partner invariably gets injured. If the couple wants to salvage their relationship, it is often helpful for the injured partner to go through the process of forgiveness or letting go of hurt feelings and resentment. Even though forgiveness is powerful in overcoming the effects of infidelity, it does not guarantee reconciliation. It sometimes happens that, even after forgiving, partners decide to end their relationship. More often than not, though, the couple decides to stay together and restore the lost trust.
In our work with couples, we do not support affair counselling when one partner is unwilling to end an ongoing affair. We believe that it is counterproductive to the process of rebuilding trust and, from our experience, it does not produce positive results. We ask the couple to end any ongoing communication with the third party in order to invest their time and energy into their relationship.
We focus on two necessary aspects of recovery from an extramarital affair. First, we help the couple process the underlying feelings of hurt, anxiety, shame and guilt that usually accompany the aftermath of an affair. This process helps the couple reconnect and restore genuine affection in the relationship. Second, it is important to process what made the couple vulnerable to an affair in the first place. This includes an in-depth analysis of their relationship dynamics and patterns of communication. From our experience, the whole process takes two to three months, on average.
If you are dealing with the consequences of an extramarital affair, remember that there is hope. With competent professional help couples usually overcome the devastation and work through the affair.
|Copyright © 2008 Vitali Rosen|