INFIDELITY IS PAINFUL
Sometimes it feels as though you will have only one feeling forever. If your spouse or partner has been unfaithful, emotionally, physically or both, you know that pain. You also know that communication about it is at least tense and difficult, if not impossible. Perhaps you have already decided to end your marriage or relationship. Perhaps you are one of the many who thought an affair would be a deal-breaker if it ever happened, but are now confused about why the decision to stay or leave is so difficult. To consider staying may seem to some like they are betraying themselves and their values. Such feelings strike at the heart of personal identity and self-respect: What am I saying to him/her if I stay? What am I saying to myself about myself? On the other hand, the thoughts of leaving are heavy with fear, sadness, anger, and uncertainty. The decision to leave is constrained by other variables like love, beliefs, values, family pressures, children, religion, finances and many others.
3 FUNCTIONS OF TALKING ABOUT INFIDELITY
In approaching therapy for marital and relationship infidelity, the best research we have on infidelity suggests that couples need to engage each other about the infidelity, and that engaging each other serves three functions. They are (1) to communicate about “why” and “how” the infidelity happened, (2) to create safety and protection, not only for the betrayed spouse, but to inoculate the marriage from any other such occurrences, and (3) to decide if there will be restoration and on what conditions. When couples attempt to engage each other on their own, the trauma of infidelity often thwarts their attempts. When communicating about the infidelity that happened to you, each of you wants to be heard, but the intense feelings make it too hard for one partner to hear what the other partner feels has to be said. When unable to communicate about infidelity, the goal of safety and protection is seems more elusive the more you attempt to talk to each other. And finally, restoration cannot occur if you cannot communicate and establish safety and protection. Therapy can help you overcome repeated ineffective attempts to engage each other, to provide you with effective strategies for communicating with each other, establishing safety and protection, and restoring the relationship. For many, it is a fragile process, but with care and patience, it can occur in a sequence and a time frame that are more likely to result in success, whether success is defined as restoring or ending the relationship.
I CAN HELP
If infidelity has occurred in your marriage or relationship, I can help you communicate about the infidelity, help you feel safe, protected, confident and trust again, and to restore your marriage if it is your decision to do so.