Affairs & Infidelity

What is an Affair?

“Must an affair be sexual? Does it only include intercourse? What about a kiss? What about lunch? A breach of trust depends entirely on what you agreed to – or imagined you agreed to. Most people in our culture would probably feel betrayed by a partner who had intercourse with a third person, whether during a one night stand or as part of a long term emotional entanglement. But many would also feel betrayed, and certainly threatened, by other intimate behaviors – a hug, or the sending of a dozen roses. You as a couple must grapple with your own definition(s) and find a way to understand your own meanings; and hopefully, be able to dialogue about what happened” (Janis Spring, Ph.D., author of After The Affair).

Reactions to Infidelity

In our experience partners are most often very upset at the discovery of infidelity. Hurt, betrayal, and shame are some of the most difficult feelings we go though. It is nearly impossible to communicate. Some partners become mute and frozen with suffering, others become uncontrollably filled with rage. Depression will set in especially in situations where there’s no communication, no understanding and no healing.

Many couples divorce. Others sweep things under the rug hoping they can pretend “it never happened”. This usually doesn’t work; the hurt usually comes up sooner or later to haunt the relationship.

Causes of Affair

Not all affairs are the result of a bad marriage; sometimes people just want more (affection, sex, conversation, support) and don’t know how to ask for it so they seek it elsewhere.

Sometimes partners have become roommates and the spice, connection and affection has turned stale. Most often an affair is a solution to some sort of problem in the relationship.

Our experience helping people who want to heal and recover from infidelity, whether its an emotional affair, or an emotional entanglement, is that communication has broken down in the marriage and both people have suffered from not talking to one another about needs, feelings, dreams and longings. It’s easier to find someone outside the marriage to spice things up, than risk deeper connection AND having to open up about dissatisfaction or hurt feelings.

Treatment


How to heal and recover. Is it possible?

It’s possible if you want it. Human beings are fallible. We all do things that hurt one another. You will have to decide if your relationship is worth saving, and transforming. Then you will have to spend time and energy re-connecting, listening to one another, and understanding each person’s perspective on what happened. After that, you’ll learn new behaviors and practices that will create healing, forgiveness and recovery.

We recommend that you get help. Our experience working with couples where there’s been an affair is that with time, support and dedication, the marriage can be stronger, more open hearted and more deeply committed.

What are the Stages of Recovery from Infidelity?

1. Reveal the affair. Be completely honest. If you can’t do this on your own, get help.
2. Both of you will have difficult feelings which can often be overwhelming. Take time to go through the feelings. Get someone to help you a) know what your own feelings are and b) share them with one another.
3. Go through the process (this often takes time) of deciding whether to recommit or quit.
a. Making amends
b. Asking what the hurt partner needs
c. Confronting shame and the difficulty of remorse
d. Exploring your personal beliefs about relationship, what you’re capable of, if you want to re-choose your partner.
4. Early Recovery:
a. Saying goodbye to the “lover”
b. Earning trust- the person who has had the affair
c. Receiving apologies and amends; learning to trust again; asking for what you need to rebuilt connection and trust (the betrayed partner)
5. Rebuilding
a. Dialoguing about what happened in the marriage the led to the affair.
b. Discovering the meaning of the affair and taking responsibility for your choices.
c. Creating new rituals and behaviors to heal what wasn’t working in the past.
d. Learning to manage and appreciate differences.
e. Becoming sexually intimate again.
6. Forgiveness

An affair doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Most couples that have recovered from infidelity will tell you that they are better than ever. We have worked with couples, some of which have had to work for a long time to heal; others have a big commitment to stay together and do everything they can to move on quickly, and they do. In any case you can expect to learn a lot about relationships, about yourself, and how to love deeply!

Please speak to us. We are available to help you make a good decision for your relationship and give you some immediate help and relief.

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