An affair has been discovered or revealed. The security, trust, and intimacy you once shared has been horribly shattered. The pain is unbearable.
Should you bother with getting marriage counseling? Does an affair always lead to divorce? Can you ever trust your partner again? Is there any hope? Can you survive the hurt? Will you ever find life together in your relationship if you stay in the marriage? How do you rebuild a relationship after infidelity?
These are exactly the questions that counseling can help you to answer. I can offer you support, expertise, and experience as you deal with these questions.
Infidelity may be an indicator of larger problems in the relationship that need to be addressed. Couples can recover from infidelity if they are willing to work on their relationship. With professional help, they can often move past the pain, acquire valuable new skills, and begin again.
During the crisis and trauma of an extramarital affair, I help each partner evaluate their commitment to rebuilding trust and intimacy. Partners will be guided to share their feelings in ways that invite the partner’s empathy and understanding rather than triggering defensiveness and counter attacks.
During affair recovery counseling we will create new patterns of interaction, promoting healing and understanding rather than anger and strife. Engaging in relationship counseling after an affair is one of the first steps to building a new relationship. If both partners are willing, relationship recovery can be achieved and a new relationship can be forged.
An affair is a triangle, and here is how it looks from each angle and what counseling can offer to each party in the triangle:
The Betrayed Partner
You always thought that you would just leave if you were ever cheated on. You’re a strong person after all. But here you are. Your world has been turned upside down, but you aren’t so sure leaving is the right answer. You are feeling like a fool and are humiliated.
To move past the affair and hurt you are going to need to know why this affair happened. Yes, it was wrong of your partner to cheat on you. There were other options. Having said that, in order for counseling to be successful, we will look at the dynamics of your relationship that made it vulnerable to an affair. To use an example: if your house got robbed, it is the robbers fault-but wouldn’t you want to make sure the doors were locked next time you left the house? My two books, Blindsided by His Betrayal and Fool Me Once: Should I Take Back My Cheating Husband? might be a good start for you.
The Unfaithful Partner
If you had the extramarital affair, you may be relieved that it’s out but feel racked with guilt about hurting someone you do care about. You may be wondering if your spouse can ever move beyond this or if it will always be something held over you. You probably do not know what to do about the intensity of your partner’s anger, particularly when it keeps coming up over and over again. Will you be in the dog house forever?
In fact, you may be saying things that are digging you deeper into the hole. When you say, “But I don’t love her,” your wife hears, “I hurt you for no reason.” When you say, “I was in love with her,” your wife hears “I really wanted her, but it didn’t work out so I’m with you.” You can’t win right now. I can help you communicate what you really want to say: “I’m sorry for hurting you. Having an affair was my responsibility, but I haven’t been happy in our relationship for awhile. I don’t want to go back to being unhappy.” I know that for some men therapy is a last resort. For a DIY solution, check out my book After a Good Man Cheats: How to Rebuild Trust & Intimacy with Your Wife.
The Third Party
Frequently, I get calls from the third party (“the other woman”) looking for a therapist not for herself but for her partner. You want him to make a decision because all this secrecy and not being able to plan for the future is making you feel anxious and out of control.
Maybe you should give me a call for you to decide what you want. Therapy can provide a space for you to talk about all of this. It can be hard to find a sympathetic ear. The relationship is secret; and frankly, most people’s reaction is that you should just leave him because he’s married. But it isn’t that simple, is it? Come and talk to me about what you are going through and how you can get some of your power back. I’m not here to judge you.
Call me to schedule an appointment: (626) 644-1609 or use my contact form.
If you don’t live near me, I can help you find a professional near you or we can discuss Relationship Coaching options. These take place via FaceTime or Skype. For more information see my Coaching website: CarolineMadden.com