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Recovering From Infidelity

"People are always fascinated by infidelity because, in the end, whether we've had direct experience or not, there's part of you that knows there's absolutely no more piercing betrayal. People are undone by it."     

Junot Diaz

 

While life certainly has its highs and lows, victims of  infidelity often experience it as one of their lowest points. It’s a challenging experience and rebuilding trust can seem impossible. The task of healing from infidelity, repairing the marriage and restoring trust can be challenging for any couple. However, with a renewed commitment from both spouses and good counseling, many marriages can recover and be stronger.

 The first question people often ask is, "Why?" The answers they come up with are usually based on personal blame. Victims of infidelity blame themselves, their partner, their relationship, or the third party. They see it strictly as a personal problem, a personal failure of the people involved. 

Often There is no ONE single reason a person has an affair. There are usually many reasons: 

  • Ongoing marital issues
  • Personal / self-identity issues
  • Societal factors. 

 No matter the reasons no one forces anyone to be unfaithful. Infidelity is a decision.  If you are the victim it is important not to blame yourself.  Your partner made the decision to be unfaithful and it is not your fault.

If you were unfaithful, it's important to examine why you allowed yourself to do something that could threaten your marriage.   If unhappiness with your spouse contributed to your decision to have an affair, you need to address your feelings openly and honestly so that together you can make some changes. 

In order to rebuild a marriage the unfaithful spouses must demonstrate sincere regret and remorse. There needs to be complete confession and honesty by the betrayer.  You can not apologize often enough. You need to tell your spouse that you will never commit adultery again. 

It is important to understand that even though you are willing to work diligently to repair your relationship your spouse will still have doubts. You might think your intentions to be monogamous are obvious, they are not.  Trust has to be rebuilt. Tell your spouse of your plans to take your commitment to your marriage to heart. During the early stages of recovery when mistrust is rampant this is vital. Otherwise forgiveness is not possible,  trust cannot be restored, and the marriage may not be able to be saved.

 

Rebuilding Your Marriage After Infidelity Requires:

  •   Healing from infidelity involves teamwork; both spouses must be fully committed to the hard work of getting their marriages back on track.
  •   The unfaithful partner must be willing to end the affair (sexual or emotional) and do whatever it takes to win back the trust of his or her spouse.
  •   Honesty is the most important factor in rebuilding the marriage. 

The future possibilities for the marriage are not determined by what happened in the affair. They are determined by what happens after the affair is known. Specifically, it is determined by the degree to which the unfaithful partner is willing to be honest and answer all their spouse's questions about the affair. This can be painful. We recommend limiting conversations about the affair to 30 minutes or less to allow parties to fully emotionally process answers. . Otherwise, if conversations go on for too long harsh emotions can erupt.

  *The betrayed spouse must be willing to find ways to manage overwhelming emotions. This allows the couple to begin to sort out how the affair happened, and more importantly, what needs to change so that it never happens again

  *Affairs are less about love and more about boundaries. Affairs can happen in good marriages. 

  *The major attraction in an affair is NOT the love partner but the positive mirroring of the self --"the way I look when I see myself in the other person's eyes."

  *The conventional wisdom is that the person having an affair is not "getting enough" at home. That may be true, but often the truth is, the person isn't giving enough.

  *Most people think that talking about the affair with the spouse will only create more pain, but that is actually the way to rebuild intimacy.

  *The single best indicator of whether a relationship can survive infidelity is how much empathy the unfaithful partner shows for the pain they have caused.

  *Gradually rebuild trust— through actions, not promises.

  *Allow time to heal—although time alone (without effort) is not enough.

 

If you are interested in pursuing good counseling, contact me or call now for a free 10 minute consultation: 212 799 1157.

Being a registrant with Marriage Friendly Therapists means that I agree in principle with that organization’s view about marriage and the practice of therapy, as written in their Values Statement. If interested, you may read this values statement at  My Professional Values

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