It feels like stories about adultery are everywhere on the news and Internet: the athlete getting around, the politician and the intern, the celebrities who couldn’t help themselves. These stories quickly become clickbait because people eat up the juicy and dramatic details: who was involved, how they were caught, and how the spouse is responding. Affairs and infidelity capture the public’s attention.
Unfortunately, if infidelity has rocked your marriage or relationship, you know it isn’t glamorous. No, it is a crisis. Adultery has brought long-term and brand-new marriages to an end. However, some couples survive infidelity. What is the right response? After infidelity, this is just one of the many difficult decisions that couples face. While only the people in the relationship can make these hard choices, there is guidance and help along the way. Therapists have helped many couples overcome relational crisis and find healing, whether they continue the relationship or not.
Thriveworks Columbus counselors know that infidelity is a time of crisis—not juicy fuel for clickbait. They have helped many couples redefine their relationship so that it is healthier and safer, whether they choose to reconcile or separate.
The Pain of Infidelity
An affair. Cheating. Adultery. Infidelity. These many words describe the same idea: someone in a devoted relationship broke the expectations of fidelity for that relationship. Marriage vows may have codified the expectations of fidelity, or the expectations may have been part of a couple’s agreed-upon standards. Either way, the infidelity is a deeply painful betrayal.
Because the betrayal happens within an intimate relationship, it is all the more painful. Infidelity can reverse the world: safety is replaced with pain… honesty is replaced with lies… deep connection is replaced with broken trust. Infidelity happens within the context of a relationship, and therefore, it always affects other people. Often, extended family, community members, and friends experience feelings of betrayal after an affair. Many times, the uninvolved spouse and children are wounded the most.
- The Children: In the aftermath of adultery, children feel the betrayal, even if they are not old enough to know about the infidelity. Children perceive disruptions in their family and in their environment—an affair does both. They may internalize and blame themselves for the disruption. Many children experience behavior problems as they try to cope with the threat to their family.
- The Uninvolved Spouse: The spouse who was betrayed may experience trauma. Many uninvolved spouses report post traumatic stress symptoms, including flashbacks, increased anxiety, physical pain, vivid dreams, difficulty focusing, and more. An uninvolved spouse may also internalize the betrayal, blaming themselves for it or for not discovering it sooner.
Personal and intimate pain is difficult to quantify, but no doubt, the pain of infidelity is severe. The extensive wounds from betrayal require thorough treatment.
Infidelity Recovery: Relational Healing
No silver bullet can quickly fix the trauma of infidelity. Apologies, while a good start, are only one step on a long journey toward healing. Saying, “I’m sorry,” will not magically restore trust, heal trauma, or give wisdom for important decisions.
And yet, forgiveness and trust may be possible, whether a couple separates or stays together. How can couples recover from divorce and build a better relationship (whatever better means for them)? Skilled counselors have led many couples through infidelity recovery. Through counseling, couples may…
- Formulate New Relational Goals – Many couples know they want to divorce after infidelity. Others want to reconcile. Some want a trial separation. Many do not know what they want or change their minds in the process. In the wake of infidelity, these responses are all normal. A skilled counselor can bring clarity to the chaos, helping the couple formulate new relational goals that are realistic and achievable.
- Boost Their Communication – Infidelity can bring communication to a standstill. When strong emotions are at play, then communicating in a healthy way can feel impossible. Couples may vacillate between cold silence and hot anger. Counseling may help couples find a better way.
- Re-establish Trust – Even if the marriage ends, the individual members of the couple may still be in each other’s lives to some degree—especially if they have children together. For the relationship to move forward, even forward toward separation, some level of trust may need to be re-established. A therapist can guide couples toward boundaries and accountability that may foster the trust they need for the type of relationship they choose.
Counseling Appointments for Infidelity
Infidelity can bring couples and their families to a point of crisis. The fallout from an affair can be traumatizing and confusing, but there is help. Thriveworks Columbus, OH counselors understand and are ready to provide the support and guidance couples need to recover from infidelity.
We have appointments available for infidelity counseling. When you call our office, know that a real person will answer and schedule your appointment. You may be able to see your therapist the following day, and we will never put you on a waitlist. We also work with many insurance companies. Ready a healthier relationship? We are ready to help. Call today.