More likely than not, you recognize this song about how one woman reacted to adultery. Have you heard these lyrics?
“I dug my key into the side
Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive
Carved my name into his leather seats
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights
I slashed a hole in all four tires
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats”
Carrie Underwood belts out these passionate words, and you might even be able to sing along. “Before He Cheats” is one of country music’s most popular songs and for a good reason: it captures the intensity of infidelity. Even people who do not listen to country music like this song because it can be cathartic to sing about taking revenge on a cheater. However, healthier and more helpful reactions are available.
In the fallout from an affair, many people seek the help of a counselor as they try and find those healthier responses. Whether the marriage ends in divorce or whether the couple can reconcile, counseling has helped many people recover from infidelity. The adultery counselors at Thriveworks Counseling in Lexington, MA understand how adultery can leave deep wounds that need extensive treatment. They have journeyed with many couples toward relational healing, whether the marriage survives or not.
The Shades of Infidelity
The theory of cheating is simple: someone in a devoted relationship broke the rules and expectations for that relationship. Those rules may come in the form of marriage vows. They may be less formal but agreed-upon by both partners. Either way, the reality of infidelity is complicated, painful, and even traumatic. Counselors often classify affairs so that couples can comprehend what happened.
- Sexual Affairs: When most people think of infidelity, they usually think of illicit sex and understandably so. Infidelity often involves sex with someone other than your spouse or partner. Adultery can involve one-night stands, pornography addictions, solicitations for sex, visits to strip clubs, and more.
- Emotional Affairs: Not all affairs involve a sexual component. When partners form a bond outside of the marriage relationship that hinders intimacy within the relationship, they may be having an emotional affair. While they do not betray their spouse sexually, partners often lie, keep secrets, flirt, and fantasize when they conducts emotional liaisons. Emotional affairs are very different than close friendships. Good friends support their marriages whereas emotional affairs tear down the marriage relationship.
- Emotional and Sexual Affairs: Infidelity may also blend emotional and sexual elements. Emotional affairs may turn sexual and vice versa.
A Framework for Infidelity: Working Through It in Counseling
When people are caught in their infidelity, they often give excuses for why they committed adultery. Rationalizations are rarely helpful to either spouse. Choosing to cheat is a painful choice, regardless of the reasons why.
Nonetheless, understanding the framework in which the infidelity happened can give the couple valuable information they need to make difficult decisions about their future. Understanding the root cause of the infidelity can determine the path toward healing.
Counselors speak about two frameworks in which infidelity can grow: a deficiency framework and a circumstantial framework.
1. Deficiency – People may pursue an illicit extramarital relationship because of a deficiency in themselves, in their spouse, or in their marriage/relationship. This is a very personal, internal reason to commit adultery, and the deficiency can be real or perceived.
What does recovery look like in the deficiency framework?
The spouse who committed adultery may need to pursue cognitive behavior therapy to help understand the thought patterns that led to their behavior. Therapy may help these spouses address inaccurate beliefs about themselves, their spouse, or their marriage and empower them to utilize healthy coping strategies.
2. Circumstantial – Certain contexts foster the development of illicit relationships, making the choice to commit adultery easier. One example of a circumstantial framework is the workplace. Many people meet the person they will conduct the affair with at their place of employment.
What does recovery look like in the circumstantial framework?
When an affair is conducted under certain circumstances, recovery may require boundaries and accountability. For example, a couple may want to reconcile after a spouse had a one-night stand while traveling. A Thriveworks in Lexington, MA therapist could help the couple form and agree upon accountability measures that may make one-night stands more difficult for the future, such as always traveling with a friend or business partner.
Of course, many affairs combine these frameworks, but a skilled therapist can help each couple find the path toward recovery that works for them, whether they pursue a divorce or choose to reconcile.
Schedule an Infidelity Counseling Appointment at Thriveworks in Lexington, MA
Is your devoted relationship struggling after infidelity? Know that the pain and chaos that comes in the wake of an affair is normal and so is reaching out for help. The counselors at Thriveworks in Lexington, VA understand and are ready to provide professional and compassionate care.
When you call our office, here are a few things we do to provide client-centered care.
- A scheduling specialist will answer your call (no voicemail or automated systems).
- If you need a weekend or evening appointment, we have them.
- We work with many insurance companies.
- Our fist-time clients often see their therapist within 24 hours of their call.
Are you ready to recover after infidelity? Call today to get started.