Surviving Infidelity

In a committed relationship, couples make implicit and explicit commitments of intimacy. Both emotional and physical infidelity can cause immense turmoil in the relationship. The daunting question that remains after the betrayal is, “can our relationship survive”?

At first, infidelity survival begins in crisis mode.

Obstacles to recovery in this crisis phase include the following:

  • elevated emotions for everyone.
  • anger crowding out all other emotions in the betrayed partner
  • difficulty or unwillingness to articulate the prominent emotions in this stage: shame or guilt, loneliness, fear, sadness, betrayal

In the first stage of recovery, the goal is to help both parties hear one another without blaming and shaming – to regulate the emotional temperature in the relationship and bring the fever down.

What to expect in session:

  • establishing rules for discussing the relationship and the infidelity
  • establishing boundaries with individuals outside of the relationship
  • establishing the possibility for renewed emotional intimacy

The goal in the second phase of recovery is to develop a road map of the relationship that led to the current situation. This step takes great humility and accountability for both parties.

Obstacles to recovery in this phase include

  • resistance to evaluating the health of the relationship prior to infidelity
  • evaluating what turns in the road the relationship take to get to this point
  • willingness to openly discuss problems in the relationship prior to the infidelity
  • uncovering issues in the relationship that were unaddressed

What to expect in session:

  • strengthening emotional and cognitive intimacy
  • identifying and expressing needs
  • confronting touchy and uncomfortable issues in the relationship – past and present

Finally, the goal becomes establishing forgiveness and rebuild trust.

Obstacles in the final stage of recovery:

  • building trust in an atmosphere of suspicion
  • recognizing that trust as a choice based on evidence, not a feeling
  • the tendency for a betrayed spouse to be hyper-vigilant looking for evidence of more infidelity
  • difficulty for all parties to be honest an open
  • grudge-holding
  • an inability to forgive

What to expect in session:

  • strengthening emotional, cognitive and physical intimacy
  • differentiating privacy vs. secrecy
  • mutual accountability for change

Relationships can heal from all sorts of disasters. There is life on the other side of infidelity! Let us help you navigate this difficult path to full recovery from infidelity.

Helpful websites:

http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/consumer_updates/infidelity.aspx

http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/can-couples-recover-from-infidelity-0111114/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201111/recovery-affair

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