Maintaining a marriage is a lot like maintaining a car. The optimal solution to keeping either in good shape is to continuously take care of the small problems, so that they don’t become big ones. With your car, you should take it in for an oil change every few thousand miles. Like taking your car to a professional−your mechanic−for regular tune-ups, you should also let a counselor or therapist check in on your marriage from time to time. The continual check ups will keep things running smoothly, allowing your marriage to last for a long, long time.
To keep running with this analogy, what happens when you don’t bring your car in for the occasional oil change or small repair? It breaks down. When it breaks down, you have no choice but to seek the help of your mechanic, whose professional help can get your car back in shape. Their skills are more necessary than ever when the transmission drops or the engine stops working. The same can be said for a marriage counselor. If you haven’t maintained your relationship, and it breaks down due to an affair−either physical or emotional−it’s time to call on the professional to help fix it. Seeking the help of an outside, objective marriage counselor is the best thing you can do to recover from such a relationship altering event like infidelity.
It may seem daunting to let someone into the pain and distrust that your marriage is currently experiencing, but the perspective that you can gain from a counselor’s outside point of view will help you both move forward in a healthy way. Below you’ll find what kind of service you can expect from a marriage counselor, and also what effects you’ll see from counseling as you repair your marriage in their safe space.
Perspective, perspective, and more perspective
When you or your partner is unfaithful, you are both entrenched in the issue at hand. It often turns into an endless blame game with no winner.
“You cheated on me, so it’s your fault we’re like this!”
“I wouldn’t have cheated if you paid attention to me once in awhile. You haven’t touched me in months!”
It’s an endless loop that won’t arrive at a solution…until you let someone into the situation and allow them to give you some insight. They can provide a zoomed out version of your problems, allowing them to see more factors than just the cheating. It’s impossible for you or your partner to be objective, so you need to allow a counselor to play that role.
The cause of infidelity
This is something most couples don’t address–honestly, at least–when trying to work things out on their own after a bout of infidelity. The commonplace approach to an affair is to shame the adulterer and hope that the one who was cheated on to forgive them. Although we certainly don’t want to let the adulterer off the hook, there may be more to dig into than just that at of infidelity.
Maybe there was physical or emotional abuse. Maybe there was neglect. Maybe one or both parties stopped doing the necessary things to keep the love alive.
A marriage counselor or psychologist has the training necessary to dissect your marriage as a whole and help you see where wrong turns may have been made. It could have been that the person who was unfaithful is just a jerk, but it might be deeper than that. Allow a professional to help you see the situation for what it is and allow you to see it as well.
The effect of infidelity
It’s important to understand the ramifications of an affair and what it will do to your relationship. It will never go back to the way it was, but a therapist can help get it somewhere close. Some may not see the magnitude of the broken trust, and they will make it perfectly clear.
There’s no room for “it didn’t mean anything” if you hope to build your marriage backup. Your therapist will give you a realistic picture of your marriage’s current state, and assist in bringing it back to life.
They will help you clean up the wreckage cooperatively so that one party can forgive while the other works to mend the wound they’ve left.
Tools to repair the marriage
Identifying the problem is only half the battle; providing solutions to the problem is where the healing begins. Imagine going to your doctor, them telling you that you have tonsillitis and then just sending you home. Whether it be physical or emotional health, diagnoses don’t help much unless there is something to be done about it. Like a doctor that prescribes medicine for your ailments, a marriage counselor will provide ways that you can fix the issues in your marriage caused by infidelity.
Although a counselor or therapist won’t explicitly tell you what to do, they can provide action steps for you and your spouse to practice on your own. This could be communication techniques, healthy ways to disagree, or methods that will help rebuild the trust that has been broken. If you take the advice given, chances are that you’ll see incredible progress in your ailing marriage.
Like Las Vegas, what happens here stays here. What is said and expressed within the confines of your therapist’s office are between you, your spouse, and your therapist. It’s nobody else’s business and it will treated as such.
Along with this, it is an open forum for you to say how you feel without judgment. The superpower of the best marriage counselors and therapists is their ability to show no judgment in the way they speak or how they react to what you say. It’s important for you and your spouse to know that you can say how you really feel. With open communication and honesty, you can start to fix your broken relationship. There will be ground rules to how you communicate, but the key here is that you can get your feelings out safely and without judging eyes or ears.
Recruiting a therapist or marriage counselor is singlehandedly the best thing you can do for yourself, your spouse, and your marriage. Don’t discount what some outside help can bring to your life with your partner. If there has been infidelity in your marriage, find the best therapist you can. It’s worth every penny.