As much as people try to ignore it, infidelity is a reality that many people must face. In fact, it is so common that we live with the illusion of monogamy and the reality of infidelity. That said, no matter if you committed the affair or have been the victim of one, the shame can be intense and overwhelming.
Counseling after the Affair
Many couples choose to stay in the marriage after the affair. It fact, sometimes the affair is the best thing for a marriage. Therapy is a place for each partner to sort out the confusion and betrayal after the affair.
Marriage Counseling will enable each person to express their emotions. With the therapist guiding the process each partner can figure out how committed they are to stay in the relationship. Once that is decided, each will learn how to communicate underlying feelings which will enable the trust to be rebuilt. Learning how to communicate effectively is helpful to preventing future affairs.
It is important to remember that participating in an affair is not the sign of a personal weakness, a character flaw or a moral mistake. It can be the result of many different things, such as compulsivity or addiction, depression, anxiety, childhood sexual abuse or an unfulfilled marriage. There are many causes for affairs, not just that someone is morally corrupt.
Typically recovery from an affair takes about two years, with a wide variation. The time needed to heal is dependent on how the affair is handled once it has been discovered by the betrayed partner.
Recovery from the affair or infidelity usually progresses in four distinct phases:
1. Discovery and disclosure of the affair or sometimes called The Trauma Phase (this can last up to 6 months): During this period the non-involved partner discovers the affair and confronts the involved partner. The involved partner shares the truth about the affair once confronted. The other partner usually experiences strong emotions ranging from rage and anger to grief. These feelings can be similar to a trauma response. The betrayed partner may experience insomnia, nightmares, a lack of appetite, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and have feelings of intense love or even hatred toward the other partner. The involved partner may experience similar emotions which may be accompanied with relief that the secret is finally out and that the need for a double life is over.
2.Understanding why the affair happened. (This can take 3 to 6 months.) During this time period couples often start to understand why the affair happened. the betrayed partner starts to make sense of their new reality and the past. They make seek information confirming the truth about the past. There still can be a lot of emotion during this phase, but there will be moments of stability. It is important for healing that both partners see their own contribution, even the betrayed partner. The more quickly the couple moves into this phase the sooner healing can begin.
3. Problem-solving (This can take up to a year). Now the couple can get down to the work of the problems in the relationship that lead to the affair. Again there can be a lot of emotion, but it is more stable during this period. Shame, guilt and anger will be reduced as closeness, connection will be present as the couple figures out the deeper problems that led to the affair in the first place.
4. Integration and new relationship phase: Couples will grieve the ideal of the relationship before the affair. Trust will return as couples feel a more secure and genuine bond during the final phase of creating a new relationship. New emotional closeness will develop and the couple will experience a new and different type of relationship. The couple will use the tools learned in therapy when new problems and old patterns emerge.
Trust will be rebuilt through trusting experiences.