Guide to Infidelity Recovery
Recovery from infidelity can feel frightening, frustrating, and impossible, but Guide to Infidelity Recovery provides hope for a changed and improved relationship. When secrets become public in a committed relationship, both partners experience anger, guilt, shame, rage, sadness, grief, and hurt. Betraying partners can be male or female, and infidelity occurs in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Months or years of distancing and isolation can cause partners to seek another relationship or an affair partner. Other types of infidelity include sexually compulsive behaviors rooted in trauma.
Symptoms After Infidelity
Anytime an affair occurs, the betrayed partner might experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder that includes flashbacks, anxious and depressed feelings, intrusive thoughts, preoccupation with the affair or affair partner, uncontrollable anger outbursts, or numbness. Both partners might turn to substances, such as alcohol, in an attempt to numb the pain. The betraying partner might feel grief and sadness about the ending of the affair, and guilt and shame for going outside the relationship.
How Can Couples Therapy Help?
Some couples attempt to sweep the infidelity under the rug and move on with life. This is a dangerous way of handing infidelity and puts the relationship at risk of falling apart. Both partners need adequate space to process their grief in a secure therapeutic setting. Couples therapy can help partners discuss the affair in a controlled environment where both partners can feel secure in the conversation. A skilled couples therapist will not align with either partner. If you are the betraying partner, you should feel accepted in couples therapy, and if you are the betrayed partner, you should feel understood. A couples therapist can help each of you move through the trauma while tending to the relationship. Your therapist should be patient with your intense emotions and able to teach you skills to help regulate your reactions.
You may be reading this and wondering about how to handle infidelity in your own marriage or relationship and feel intense emotions after reading this. I encourage you to take a few slow and deep breaths as the emotions move through your body. You can offer yourself gentle words of encouragement such as, “This would be hard for anyone.” Or, “I’m not alone, many relationships experience infidelity.” You may be thinking, “Why me?” or “Why us?” These thoughts are normal.
What To Look For In A Couples Therapist
When seeking out a couples therapist, look for someone who will spend 90 minutes with you at each session. You can reduce session time as the recovery process moves forward. We recommend weekly couples therapy for those experiencing infidelity. You may be encouraged to seek out individual therapy to help support you through the process. You can expect to be in therapy for approximately one year, and maybe longer. In couples therapy, we have to move at a pace comfortable for both partners while tending to the relationship. Ask if the therapist practices relapse prevention. Your relationship might feel back on track after 8 months or a year, but a qualified couples therapist will continue to see you periodically so you maintain gains.
What If My Partner Refuses To Go To Therapy?
You might find yourself in a situation where one of the partners refuses to attend therapy. We know how frightening and frustrating that can feel for the spouse that wants to repair. Seek out individual therapy as you engage in a discernment process about your relationship. If you desire separation or divorce, a couples therapist can point you toward a qualified family lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, if you choose to leave the relationship. Relationships can change by one partner attending therapy, but this is not our recommendation when couples experience infidelity. Individual therapy can help you make changes to improve your relationship and quality of life after infidelity.
Experiencing infidelity can be the springboard to a fulfilling and sexually satisfying relationship. If you desire emotional connection, satisfying sexual intimacy, trust, and commitment, seek help from a couples therapist. Build the marriage or relationship you always dreamed of.
About the Author
Rebecca Ray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate and the owner of Modern Family Therapy, PLLC in Cypress and San Marcos, Texas. She specializes in the treatment of couples, families, and adult individuals under the supervision of David M. Lawson, LMFT-S, Lic. #2137.