Whether your marriage was smooth sailing or rough seas prior to infidelity, there’s no question that a breach in trust like this is difficult to overcome. It’s one of the most common problems couples face, and the one most likely to bring them to the therapist’s office. While many people are quick to say that they would leave if their partner had an affair, the reality is always more complex.

In today’s blog post, we’ll dig into whether or not it’s possible to overcome infidelity and explore what the process of healing from wounds like those might look like.

Infidelity and Marriage

Financially and logistically, our relationships form the bedrock of our lives. We build our communities around them. We build our communities around them. It’s because our relationship is so fundamental to our lives that it’s so hurtful and scary when someone betrays their partner’s trust by having an affair. It’s a threat to the life you’ve built together, and a sign of conflict or unhappiness.

Infidelity is often accompanied by feelings of:

  • Uncertainty
  • Loss of Trust
  • Humiliation
  • Shame
  • Rejection
  • Depression
  • Insecurity

Looking at that list, it might seem like recovering from infidelity is impossible, but most couples (somewhere between 60-80%) end up staying together after an affair.

Understanding Infidelity

Have you ever seen one of those Hollywood moments where there’s a countdown going on a self-destruct sequence? In the last few seconds before the explosion, the lights start flashing red and the warning siren starts playing over the speaker. You may be tempted to think of infidelity as the explosion, but it’s actually the flashing red lights. Infidelity is a serious matter, but it’s usually a symptom of other issues in a relationship, such as:

  • Communication Issues
  • Inability to Commit
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Lack of Affection
  • Disrespect \ Selfishness

Healing & Rebuilding

For most couples, infidelity represents a major crossroads in their relationship. There’s “before the affair” and “after the affair.” Infidelity is a breach of trust, a violation of security, and sometimes a source of shame and emotional isolation. At that crossroads, there exists an opportunity to start fresh, but it requires breaking things down and rebuilding from scratch.

Most of us never took a class in setting expectations, communicating boundaries, or expressing our needs and desires. We end up in relationships because of natural chemistry, because we’re afraid of being alone, or because we think it’s what we’re supposed to do.

After infidelity, we have the opportunity to revisit those things and ask ourselves important questions:

  • What do you want in a relationship?
  • What are your deal breakers?
  • Where are the areas you’re willing to compromise?
  • Does your partner have expectations you can’t meet?

Some couples stay together out of love. In spite of the infidelity, they have a strong foundation and friendship that binds them. Others take this opportunity to rebuild their marriage around other concerns.

There’s no right or wrong way to have a relationship—it’s all about figuring out a structure that works for you and your partner.

Writing the Rules

Safety and relaxation require structure and rules. We fantasize about spontaneity and unpredictability, but we’re often at our best when we know where the boundaries are. Fences are important to playgrounds because they help kids know where they’re allowed to play. Board games and sports have rules to help build consensus. Those rules help us cut down on conflict.

Getting Support

It’s tremendously important for couples who have experienced infidelity to consider working with an objective 3rd party, such as a counselor, to help guide them through the process of healing. A therapist’s job, first and foremost, is helping their clients learn the tools they need to manage problems in their lives on their own.

That’s especially true when dealing with couples. If you and your partner are committed to moving past this, reach out today to schedule a consultation for couples therapy.

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