Experiencing infidelity is devastating and even traumatic. The shock and betrayal of such an act breaks the foundation of a relationship and is not easy to repair. Since overcoming the crisis of an affair is not easy, it may require affair recovery expert and professional help.
During this time, the victim of infidelity may not be clear on what to do – to leave or stay, to destroy or save the relationship. Here are examples of the ways you, as the betrayed spouse, may experience an affair:
- You experience an extreme roller coaster of emotions such as panic, anger, sadness, hurt, jealousy, and other uncomfortable emotions, such as vengefulness, desperation or hopelessness. Or, you may be repressing them and feeling disconnected from your emotions.
- Things may feel out of control. You may no longer know what to expect of yourself or from your partner. Your feelings may shift quickly from one emotion to another, creating stress in the body and confusion in the mind.
- You experience a dramatic impact on your identity, negatively effecting your self-worth and self-confidence. Chaos is dominating your mind. You don’t trust your judgment as you have lost your sense of order, integrity and justice.
- You cannot make sense of how the person that loved you so much and the person you most loved and trusted could have done this to you. You are unhappy and lost your faith in love, trust in your partner, and trust in yourself.
There is no question infidelity is devastating. Yet, while it seems that only one partner committed the betrayal, it is important to realize that infidelity can be a symptom of a larger problem between the two of you. As difficult as it might be to admit, both partners have played a role in creating the physical and emotional conditions that resulted in the affair. These are not excuses, nor a condemnation of the choice each person made. It is simply a coping mechanism – regardless of whether it is functional or dysfunctional – in dealing with the situation.
As such, an important part of the healing process for infidelity is understanding how your relationship became vulnerable to infidelity. When attachment needs in an intimate relationship are not being met, a distance between the couple is created that leaves the relationship vulnerable to such a betrayal.
Having an affair is seldom about sex; an affair takes place in reaction to feelings of disconnection, being void and lonely. The infidelity is designed to bring a fulfillment of attachment needs. While it might be pleasing in the short term, because it is done in a dishonest way, is does fulfill what is missing in a relationship. It only brings trauma, pain, and hurt that has a dramatic impact on the parties involved. This is not to say that recovery from the injury of infidelity is not possible. If dealt with properly, the affair can be seen as a means to bring the truth to light, realizing what can be done to survive the affair and building a better connection.
While the relationship will never be the same, this crisis can be a turning point. It can elicit a deeper lever of change to enhance yourself and your relationship. You can move beyond surviving the trauma associated with the affair and become stronger, more intimate, and in a happier place. Yes, it may take time and pain, but if you are willing to work on what went wrong and be committed to the process, you can break out of the old mold and create something new – something joyful – feeling more connected, alive, and loved.
Infidelity counseling will help you understand the root cause of the affair and make the necessary changes to build a loving and fulfilling relationship. You will use this awful, hurtful experience as a springboard for growth.
The work of overcoming an affair requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. It must start with the discovery and revelation of the affair. The infidelity must come out into the open without denial. The ugly truth must be faced and dealt with. In that phase you get to understand the underlying cause for the affair. This can be very difficult for the injured party to hear, but once that critical dialog begins, and the problems have been revealed, then some basic structure can be established to start the recovery stage.
Like any loss, the next stage is the necessary grieving process. The process allows for a mourning period for the loss of what you had, whether real or imaginary. During that period, which might take even a few years, intense emotions will take place, if it is anger, pain, and even depression. During this period, it is necessary to support the next stage of acceptance of the devastating reality.
Once the chaos of pain and torment run its course, some acceptance and stability can be established. But acceptance doesn’t mean putting it behind you, it means realizing the true nature of what happened, understanding the things that need to be corrected, and then reorganizing feelings, thoughts and actions with the purpose of changing the very nature of the partnership to reflect this new understanding. Acceptance is knowing that the road which lies ahead will be bumpy, yet a new beginning awaits.
The final stage is the recovery. In that stage the couple realizes the new beginning and understands that with hard work they will be able to gain the reward at the end of a long journey. They work to establish a deep connection that is honest, open, and strong. The new relationship has the chance to now solidify into one that provides a greater sense of stability and intimacy.
In summary, the infidelity counseling practice, must cover the following stages:
- Evaluating the relationship status and establishing a plan of action
- Allowing space for expression of feelings, thoughts and needs
- Gaining a greater understanding of what happened that made the relationship vulnerable
- Rebuilding trust and repairing the relationship
- Working through personal and relationship issue
- Creating a new relationship
Overcoming an affair isn’t easy. Whether you stay together or part, you will benefit from examining what happened in your relationship and how you both contributed to it. Having gone through this process, you will know and understand yourself better, reducing the chances of repeating unhealthy patterns in a future relationship.