When infidelity threatens your marriage, you may wonder if staying together is even an option. An affair is the ultimate act of betrayal—surely there must have been something lacking in the relationship to get to that point, and now one spouse has broken the marriage vows. How can you think about staying together and working it out?
Is it possible?
Actually, different sources report that about half of marriages do in fact survive infidelity. You were in love once, right? And even now despite this big issue that happened you still love each other? That is definitely worth saving. So now the question is how to do it. Let’s face it—this infidelity issue is bigger than either of you can handle. You need help. You need a professional. You need a marriage therapist.
More and more people are realizing just how effective therapists can be, especially during hard times in a marriage. A marriage therapist is an impartial mediator who is trained and experienced in helping couples work through their problems. And the counseling room is a safe place where just the three of you are talking and listening, and hopefully as you build trust, you can rebuild your marriage and come out even stronger on the other side.
Here are some ways that infidelity counseling can save your marriage:
Somewhere along the line, you stopped sharing everything with each other—especially the offending spouse who has strayed. There were probably some instances of little white lies to cover up where they were and who they were with, and then what they did. Working with a therapist is vital because they can help you both improve communication. The other spouse may be accusatory because of the betrayal. Not a great environment for good communication.
The therapist asks each spouse questions that help bring out their thoughts and feelings, which are important for them to hear and their spouse to hear. The counselor also helps the couple to process the words and realize their significance. Many counselors also use role play to help the couple communicate more effectively, which helps them improve their communication overall.
Reveal the True Reason for the Affair
This is easy—it’s all about sex, right? Not always. Of course, some affairs happen because of sex and the excitement of it all. But many affairs don’t happen that way. Many times, relationships with someone outside the marriage can develop because something is lacking in the marriage itself. Perhaps the offending spouse is feeling bad about themselves for one reason or another, or maybe doesn’t feel heard from the other spouse. They don’t necessarily go looking for someone else, but when they get positive attention elsewhere, they become ok with pursuing it.
It could be that this new person is giving them a lot of attention, and so slowly they give of their emotions and intimacy to this new person because it just feels good. Sometimes an affair doesn’t even involve sex at all. The point is, an affair doesn’t just happen overnight. It was a complex, step by step process that needs to be evaluated. A trained therapist can help both spouses talk through it and figure out the true reason they pulled away—and as a result the spouses can then tackle the issue head on.
Help the Spouses Reconnect
After an affair, many times the spouses want to come back together, but they just aren’t sure how. The offending spouse feels terrible and is scared about the strong reaction by their spouse. The spouse who didn’t cheat may want to stay married, but their feelings about the affair are so strong that it’s hard to talk or be around the offending spouse. This can cause the two to simply avoid each other.
A professional marriage therapist can help them work through their feelings and actually connect and truly understand each other and even forgive each other. It can be a big bridge to cross, which is why you need professional help to do it. But once you do connect, the rebuilding can begin.
Rebuild from the Ground Up
So you’ve forgiven each other. You’ve expressed yourselves and you’ve listened. Now that you’re on the same page, great! But, now what? Just because you both want to stay married, it doesn’t mean things will just fall into place. Because you’re back down to the foundation again. This is going to take some work to rebuild the marriage. You need to figure out what your marriage is as you move forward.
That’s why a therapist is so essential. They know what steps you both need to take in order to rebuild your marriage effectively. It’s such a personal process, that there is no one-size-fits all method. You and your spouse may take longer to reach certain understandings, and you may breeze by others. A therapist can gauge where you both are during each therapy session to make effective use of time and help you build, brick by brick, until you are both solid enough to stand on your own.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.