Infidelity is the number one reason couples seek counseling. Texting, Facebook and other social media can erode a couple’s boundaries and cause problems with trust. If you can stand in the fire of the pain, an affair can be an opportunity for personal growth and a better relationship. Recovery is possible but guidance is needed to work through the phases of crisis, insight and reconnection – the ultimate goal is to rebuild trust and strengthen the relationship, making it ‘affair proof’, more satisfying and intimate.
5 Steps to heal from an infidelity
One: Weather the crisis of discovery Infidelity is a traumatic experience that takes time to resolve. A sense of unreality is normal since it seems the world as you knew it has fundamentally changed. There is a grieving process which can be a roller coaster of emotion. Who can offer you support during this time? We discuss pros and cons of who to tell and what you can expect positive and negative from family and friends should you decide to disclose. Self care is key as things begin to settle down.
Two: Share feelings and make a plan to rebuild trust. In session is a safe place to communicate your feelings about what has happened. Each couple has different needs about what they want to know and how much information they want to hear. A specific plan will be developed to rebuild a foundation of trust.
Three: What is the relationship context? We look at the reality of the relationship to understand the whys and hows of the affair. How did your relationship come to be in this situation? What were the negative patterns? What has been distracting you from being your best self in the marriage? What life events were taking place? As we look at the big picture we can better understand how choices were made and how each partner contributed to getting the relationship to this point.
Four: Invest in time together Even though it may feel awkward it’s important to plan one on one, pleasurable activities outside therapy to help the healing process. It is not helpful to isolate or punish each other by being remote and unaccessible during this time.
Five: Reconnect sexually It may take time but this is crucial to getting back on track as a couple. Therapy should be a safe place to talk about sex – how it’s been in the past and how to make it better in the future. We discuss how to make erotic connection an ongoing priority in the relationship.
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