Marital infidelity is a dominant theme in couples who come for marital counseling. It is one of the most devastating traumatic events and the suffering is palpable. The aggrieved partner feels betrayed, angry, humiliated and overwhelmed. The offending partner may feel tremendous guilt and remorse. Psychological symptoms for both may include depression, anxiety and acute stress, intrusive and obsessive ruminations about the affair, anger, insomnia, and excessive weight loss or gain.
People often ask: Is the affair the death knell for a marriage? The answer is not necessarily although it takes very hard work to regain trust and intimacy of all kinds in the marriage. In some cases it is a bad choice to continue the marriage even though adjusting to a new life and family configuration is also daunting. Whatever the reasons that precipitated the affair, there was a loss of connection, communication, desire, respect and certainly an emotional estrangement or disaffection.
Both partners need to be very motivated to do the hard work that reunification requires. I have seen cases where the affair although traumatic actually facilitated the abilities of both partners to squarely look at the problems in their marriage that may have existed for years. The motivating factors become how to get on track to be emotionally available to the other and to treat the relationship as something to be revered and guarded. Again, as I say on the home page, this path is not for the faint hearted but an achievable goal if both partners are equally committed to healing and promoting a respectful, honest and empathic relationship that is an enduring investment for both.
How can marital therapy help you?
- Choosing therapy symbolizes a shared commitment to work together to save the marriage.
- Provides a “holding” and safe environment in which to express feelings. This will help you feel grounded and provide a sense of security in a very turbulent time.
- Helps to communicate in productive ways and minimizes destructive communication.
- Helps you to reconnect to the relationship or make the decision that continuing the marriage may not be the right course.
- Helps you to manage depression, anxiety, obsessive ruminations related to the affair.
- Helps you to develop a view toward your future as positive.
- Helps you reclaim yourself so that you feel whole.