Have you and your partner been trying to recover from infidelity without any progress? Do you feel stuck in a cycle of blame and shame? Did you just learn of the betrayal, and don’t know where to begin or how it might be possible to heal?
- You may need to reach out to a therapist for affair recovery if you and your partner are experiencing the following:
You are trying to move on from an affair/infidelity, but cannot move past the blame from your partner, or shame you feel from having the affair
- The foundation of trust, commitment, and security in your relationship seems completely broken
- You wonder if your relationship can ever be the same, or if the memories and emotions from the affair will impair your relationship forever
Whether the affair was physical or emotional, one event or many, the impact can cause intense damage mentally, emotionally, and within the relationship. The partner who had the affair can feel ashamed, regretful, and confused over their actions while the “injured” partner can feel embarrassed, angry, betrayed, or doubtful regarding their partner’s commitment and feelings towards them. Affair recovery can seem like a one step forward, two steps back cycle that never ends.
Repair is Possible
While it may not seem like it, more couples experience affairs and infidelity than one might realize. Additionally, these couples heal and recover more often than you might realize as well. Full recovery and repair after an affair is truly possible, but requires vulnerability and a willingness to work through the painful emotions of betrayal, anger, mistrust, self doubt, and heartbreak.
The Therapist’s Role in Affair Recovery
Restoring trust and security within the relationship is the responsibility of the partners involved, however, a therapist’s role in affair recovery can give you and your partner the safety and structure needed to communicate and process these painful emotional injuries. Your therapist can facilitate honest discussions regarding emotional hurt from the affair, and assist you in implementing protective strategies to keep future affairs from happening.
Working through an affair with a therapist can help you feel closer to your partner and get to know one another again. It is sometimes referred to as “the start of your second marriage”. Once you are able to process the affair and move toward forgiveness, you are also able to view the relationship positively again and plan for the future as partners. You might find through therapy that your relationship is capable of being stronger than ever through gaining awareness of one another’s needs and building a stronger connection and intimacy.
What if my partner is still having the affair?
Some couples learn of infidelity and either 1) doubt their partner has truly stopped, or 2) have been told by their partner that they are not yet ready to stop the other relationship. This can be a painful experience, and one that may require individual therapy prior to starting couples therapy. Individual therapy can help each person have a safe space to process their emotions, desired boundaries and readiness for change. Couples are recommended to fully stop emotional and physical affairs before affair recovery, as the recovery process requires safety to rebuild trust.
My partner has done this before; is it even worth counseling if it’s just going to continue?
Cumulative betrayals often feel devastating and 10 times harder to heal from. We’ve let ourselves to have faith in our partner again, and that ended up being unsafe or feeling unwise. We may feel a lot of anger, towards both our partner and our self, and we may tell our self “never again will I let myself trust him/her.” If you and your partner have experienced multiple betrayals but are not yet ready to end the relationship, then therapy is a critical ‘next-step.’
Your therapist will work to create a safe space where we can stabilize the day-to-day interactions you have with one another, and do a deep dive into the underlying factors leading to repeat offenses. Though individual therapy may be recommended as part of this process, the trained couples therapist can help you effectively discuss your feelings, create space to have your questions answered, and understand parts of yourself or your partner that play into the betrayal cycle that is repeating. If you don’t know whether you want to remain in the marriage or not, then you are right where you need to be. We often can’t make this decision until the end of therapy, where you will hopefully have more information to guide you in “is this person safe to re-attach to”.