Issues Unique to Couples
I’ve been doing couple’s relationship therapy in Northern California for many years, and I have to tell you that I have never seen anything that creates a crisis in an intimate relationship like the discovery of infidelity. Clients often ask me, can we survive this? I can honestly answer “Yes, you can” – IF both of you are willing to do the work and learn the skills you will need to get through this very difficult time.
That’s a big IF!
Once a partner learns of infidelity, however they define that term, they are likely to be overwhelmed by feelings of loss, anger, hurt, confusion, and betrayal. The unfaithful partner, now out in the open, can be equally overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, shame, and confusion – and maybe, relief at being able to be honest. Sometimes the betrayals are many and are ongoing. Sometimes it is a single instance. Both people will be faced with decisions about whether to end the relationship or try to work through the crisis in the hope that their relationship will survive and even be stronger in the end.
If partners decide to recommit, they can be helped immensely by good quality relationship counseling from a therapist experienced in dealing with couple’s issues. In counseling the work will focus on helping each partner bring their thoughts and feelings out into the open, exploring the issues that resulted in the unfaithful partner choosing to betray the trust in the relationship, finding out what will be needed to repair the broken trust, and ultimately moving forward with the repair and the building of what will hopefully be a relationship that will be different in some important ways.
Some issues that are typically confronted are:
Whether the couple will remain living together, and if so, what will that look like. If not, what will that look like.
What, if anything, to tell children, parents, friends, etc.
How any contact with the affair partner will be handled, and by whom.
How and when the affair will be discussed.
How much detail about the affair is to be disclosed by and for each partner.
The damage done by the betrayal of trust.
How trust will be earned back and what will be needed to effectively repair damage.
Damage to sexual intimacy.
Sometimes an affair is the crisis that shines a spotlight on problem areas in the relationship, and the vehicle for confronting change. Couples can recover, strengthen their relationship, grow, change, and move on.
Think about it.