In reflecting on marital issues in my practice as a couple's counselor, I've found that infidelity is one of the fastest growing concerns among people. Statistics show over 70-80% of married couples struggle with this issue sometime during the course of their marriage. Having one of my practice areas being infidelity and affairs I am able to focus on really helping couples through very difficult times in their life.
Affairs are the single most hurtful and destructive thing that can occur in a marriage where monogamy is the stated goal. Because it is so devastating, it is quite often not handled very constructively in relationships. Often the "injured" party feels that working on the relationship indicates a weakness on their part. This is NOT so. It takes incredible strength from both partners to work through this difficult time! Infidelity does not have to mean an end to the relationship. In some cases, however, people may make that choice because they don’t know what the options are. And in some cases, the best option may be to end the relationship [e.g., where there are multiple affairs, no genuine remorse or plans for recovery] But for an overwhelming majority of cases of infidelity, not only can the relationship be saved but it can evolve into a stronger and more resilient and even more intimate relationship than before. However, this often requires some skillful facilitation from a therapist specifically trained in dealing with issues after infidelity occurs.
Should I come in alone or with my partner?
I generally recommend coming in together for the first session (when possible). Then, I like to schedule individual sessions before recommending couples counseling (most common) or individual counseling (if one or both people are ambiguous about whether to stay or end the marriage). Often times combining both couples and individual sessions is necessary.
Is there hope?
Absolutely yes! Especially if there is remorse and a desire from both partners that they want to work on the marriage.
As the "unfaithful" partner, will I be judged and made to feel horrible about what I've done?
Not by me. Some people feel this way because of their guilt, but I have compassion for both the person who feels betrayed and victimized and the person who feels regret, shame, anger, lonliness, and/or misunderstood.
As the "faithful" partner, will I be judged for staying in the marriage?
Absolutely not! I value marriage. If both partners want to work through this issue and improve their relationship, I have incredible respect for both of you. Especially the faithful partner who will be stretching their capacity for forgiveness.
What if we choose to end the marriage, should we still come to counseling?
I recommend coming to 1-2 sessions as a couple to confirm this decision if there is any wavering in it. Then, yes, if separation is indicated, there is help and support to make this process easier for both of you. Separate individual counselors is often indicated in this case. I work with several other clinicians whom I can make a referral to if this occurs.
Should one person move out of the residence?
Not yet. Your marriage has a better chance at surviving this if you endure this painful time together and work on developing a plan to re-build trust together. This often means negotiating terms of how much the affair is talked about and to what level of detail.
For more resources on Infidelity, go to my resources and links page. Please call for a free phone consulation and/or schedule an appointment. When the disclosure of an affair is recent, I can usually get you into session within 2 working days.
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 916-524-0284 to schedule an appointment!
Feel free to e-mail me more questions you want addressed on this page...