Why Couples Need Therapy After Infidelity?
Can a Relationship Survive Infidelity?
This may seem like a strange concept. To seek therapy after infidelity occurs. Some choose to end the relationship immediately. When tensions are high and emotions are elevated it can be challenging to repair the relationship or find closure.
Each individual may find it difficult to navigate through the heartbreak, confusion, and pain of the betrayal.
Unfortunately, infidelity has not gone extinct over the past decade. As a result, psychologists and therapists have been hard at work in developing attachment injury repair methods to process relational wounds and restore trust.
Healing may seem like a daunting task. The relationship can survive infidelity, but only if both individuals are committed to putting in the work.
Who Needs Counseling After Infidelity?
The concept of marriage itself has seen a significant change over the past century with things such as cohabitation, open relationships, extramarital affairs, newly developed gender norms, same-sex relationships, and the gender wage gap contributing to a new state of “normalcy.”
In both couples and marriage therapy, the client is the relationship itself. This form of therapy focuses on the unit that consists of the two individuals and their view of self, each other, and the relationship as a whole.
There are various models for couples work that have decades of experience in working with ruptures, blocks, and hurts within a relationship.
How can Marriage Therapy Help After Infidelity?
If therapy is an option that both individuals find worth exploring then more than one visit will be needed to increase the success of therapy. Trusting the process of therapy can be hard due to the major rupture of the relationship and the host of emotions that follow the event. Therapy is an amazing resource that has been around for a long time and is backed by empirical evidence.
However, no therapist is that good to resolve the issue of infidelity in one visit as much as we might want it to be resolved in such a timely manner. The process of therapy isn’t a blame game or shifting guilt onto either partner. Therapy can be used to help understand each other’s triggers, emotional realities, attached meaning to varying events, and each other’s protective actions. Everyone makes sense in their own context despite how random an action may seem. Making the implicit emotions and thoughts explicit helps reduce the habit of assuming or reading our significant other’s mind.
Each person has a pattern of protective actions that they have developed within a fear response of being hurt. It’s normal for us not to be aware of these things at times, especially if we find ourselves in survival mode. A fight or flight response if you will. If these things are brought to the forefront it can help explain a great deal including depressive moods, PTSD-like symptoms from the betrayal, and anxiety-producing triggers. Interestingly enough, affairs don’t automatically end relationships or doom them to fail. The literature shows us that the success rate of therapy goes up if the affair is disclosed prior to entering therapy and that the infidelity is not active while seeking the affair recovery.
What are the Benefits of Marriage Therapy after an Affair?
- Better Communication
- Forgiveness and Resolution
- Rebuild Trust and Understanding
- Developing Healthy Boundaries
- Processing Old Relationship Wounds
- Recognizing and taking accountability for each individual’s role within the relationship
- Understanding the negative cycle and choosing to have new emotional interactions with each other.
- Developing Fair Fighting Rules
- And more…
When to Walk Away from the Relationship after Infidelity?
Some therapists may feel that every relationship is redeemable. However, this may not always be the case. It is ultimately up to the couple to decide whether or not to stay together. What are some signs that your partner may not be in a place to do the work of Couples/Marriage therapy?
Some indicators may be:
- Refusing to attend counseling
- Active/ Ongoing infidelity
- Refusing to undergo testing for STIs
- Not able to take responsibility for their role in the infidelity
- Gaslighting or blaming actions of self on external factors or on spouse
- Domestic Abuse
- Substance Abuse
- Evasiveness or deflection from the topic
There is Hope after Infidelity
Most couples have not only survived infidelity but also course corrected and now thrive after attending therapy to work through the painful loss that infidelity can bring.
The literature has decades of research and dedicated study on this very topic. The very idea of talking about infidelity and betrayal is not an easy thing by no stretch of the imagination.
However, learning healthier ways to address problems that come up in marriage can reinforce turning to each other and promote unity within the couple.
This process doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Therapists are here to walk alongside you both to help you achieve your goals. Taking the first step to sign up for therapy can be a scary one, but we are here to help and to see you both as individuals that Christ has made you versus just seeing the presenting problem that you are struggling with. It may feel like pieces are missing, but it is our hope to help bring restoration to your life.
written by Willie Breaux, SI
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