Regaining Trust, Communication & Forgiveness After Cheating Through Infidelity Counseling
Cheating on your spouse or your partner can be the most deceptive and destructive problem a couple can face. Most people assume if they are victims of infidelity, that naturally they would leave the relationship. This might be true for some; however this is not the case for all. Some people are quite surprised at their own willingness to stay in their relationship and have a difficult time trying to make sense of their feelings of doubt, fear, sadness, anger and hopelessness. According to Psychology Today, the definition of infidelity is unfaithfulness to a sexual partner, especially a spouse. Many couples are seeking infidelity counseling with the hopes that they can first understand why this happened. Then, they try to sort through their emotions during this confusing time and finally unlock a new and even better, more trusting relationship. Marriage Counseling is an opportunity for a couple to receive guidance and support, but most importantly, hope.
When a couple calls for infidelity counseling services they are distraught. They feel their entire world, though it may have not been perfect, has completely turned upside down. It’s as if their foundation, although, maybe rocky and unsteady, completely crumbled beneath them. Couples feel very alone in this experience because they do not want their family or friends knowing about this deception. Many couples feel if they share this information with family and friends they will be judged. The unfaithful partner may be judged and criticized for the hurt and pain they caused, and might lose the respect from those who are the closest. The one who was cheated on might be judged for staying. People might not understand the need to stay or understand how they could tolerate such a thing. So many couples are suffering in isolation. Infidelity counseling is a way to safely seek support, maintain dignity, feel hopeful and make the necessary repairs to restore the foundation they once had. Sometimes having a new foundation can allow for a new relationship that’s even stronger and more stable than they ever thought possible. They are seeking support to decide if they can stay in this relationship and if so, how? How does one overcome this hurt and trauma? Here’s where faulty patterns end and new behaviors and a new perspective begins.
Most times, when a couple seeks infidelity counseling for issues that involve lack of trust, they want to know why. Why did this happen? It’s a confusing time for both the unfaithful spouse or partner, and the one cheated on. The victim might ask, “Was it something I did to cause this? They might also ask, “How could they do this to me and our family?” The unfaithful spouse might want to know what caused them to do this. How could I hurt my family like this? Some might even ask themselves, “What will stop me from doing this again?” There are so many unanswered questions about why that might be buried so deep and cannot be answered right away. The couple feels that if these questions aren’t answered right away, they can’t move forward. This is not true. The answers to these questions are very important and should not be minimized, however couples can begin to repair their relationship without having these questions answered immediately.
Repairing your relationship after infidelity is a process. Knowing this repair will take time is important. This process is very similar to the grieving process of a loved one. When someone dies, you go through stages of grief and each new stage comes with a new flood of emotion. In the beginning of the grieving process, it’s really about seeking support from a close friend, family member or a trained counselor for guidance and support. It’s the same for infidelity. Many couples prefer a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist since they are trained, offer a neutral, non-judgmental stance and offer the added bonus of confidentiality. Once you’ve reached out for support, the next part is to try and manage all the emotions you are flooded with. The unfaithful spouse might feel an enormous amount of guilt or remorse, and their partner might feel sad, angry, hopeless, fearful, depressed, anxious and more. These feelings can lead to loss of sleep, obsessive thinking, unable to concentrate on daily routines, loss of appetite, and even physical pain. The therapist can help you to stabilize your emotions and help to normalize your feelings so they make sense to you. The Marriage Counselor will also help you create your immediate needs from your partner. These needs can be as simple as needing to be able to ask questions of your partner about the experience, deciding whether you will stay in the house together or even sleep in the same bed. The couple might need permission from one another to continue showing/sharing affection towards each other, even when they feel vulnerable. These are important to establish in order to maintain a level of stability needed to move on.
Once you feel a sense of balance and stability, you can begin to repair the relationship. Repairing is not always about finding forgiveness. Forgiveness is a necessary element if you are planning on staying together, but that comes with time. Couples need to begin to communicate freely with their partner about their relationship and talk openly in a way they might not have had before. A Marriage Counselor can guide you through this process, and give you the platform to do so. The unfaithful spouse or partner must have patience. They need to take ownership of what they did, hopefully come to understanding of why this happened and show emotional support to their partner. Rebuilding trust is about maintaining consistency. Consistency is time. If the unfaithful partner tries to rush this process, this could be detrimental in their progress. The more patient the unfaithful spouse is and the more open, loving and consistent they are, the more the other partner will begin to trust again. Both partners need to make behavioral and emotional changes in order for this rebuilding process to continue. In time, forgiveness can occur.
Rebuilding a relationship after infidelity is like rebuilding a home or a building after a devastating natural disaster. The natural disaster like an earthquake, hurricane or tornado can crush the infrastructure, tear it down in a matter of seconds and you’re left with a broken foundation. With time, dedication, strong materials, patience and resilience, the building can be stronger and safer than before. This holds true for your marriage. Infidelity and broken trust is a disaster, but with the right tools, strength, commitment and patience, you can rebuild an even stronger relationship than you had before. One based on love, trust and honesty.
If you or someone you know in the South Florida area is faced with mistrust, infidelity, cheating or any marital issues, please contact Susan Block in Coral Springs for an appointment.