Are You Struggling To Recover From An Affair?
Has an affair, whether physical, emotional or both, shaken the trust and foundation of your relationship? In the wake of the affair’s revelation, do you feel shaken, confused and uncertain about the future? It may be that you discovered the affair and feel shocked, betrayed, angry and want to punish your partner. Or, you might be withdrawing and feeling protective of yourself, unsure if you should forgive your partner or leave. If you are the partner who cheated, you might feel ashamed, guilty and terrified that your partner will leave or won’t ever forgive you. Although you want to explain and demonstrate your remorse, your partner might retract from you physically and/or emotionally or erupt in anger when you reach out and try to reconnect. Perhaps you fear that nothing you do or say will ever be enough and that your relationship is doomed. And, while you both may still care about each other, feelings of love and closeness may seem lost and unrecoverable. When you are at this crossroads, meaningful communication becomes difficult and the future becomes uncertain.
Recovering from an affair can be a challenging and painful experience. One part of you might want to heal and maintain your relationship, but another part of you may not want to risk being hurt again. You may be more inclined to feel strong and safe rather than take the risk of being vulnerable. And, mixed feelings of rage, guilt, shame and betrayal may be running deep, creating more uncertainty about the possibility of your relationship’s survival.
Affairs Are More Common Than You Might Think
With the increase and influence of technologies and easy access to dating sites, emails and texts, affairs—especially emotional affairs—are more common than ever. And, affairs are not always just about sex. Often when one partner feels unable to communicate needs and get them met, he or she will look outside of the relationship, resulting in emotional cheating, which can sometimes feel even more painful than physical infidelity.
Over the course of a long-term relationship, partners may not be aware of the areas where support is necessary to allow for the personal growth and development of each individual. Fear of abandonment and loss can create a suffocating emotional environment, making the relationship feel more like a cage than an encouraging base from which to grow and age together. When one or both partner feels unable to be their true self, the ground becomes fertile for affairs. Some people feel uncomfortable exploring deeper things in their relationships and cheat to discover and express new aspects of themselves, while others cheat to experience choice or power in their lives, especially if they feel threatened or stifled by their partner.
While this may be hard to hear if you were the one who was betrayed, true healing can only occur when the relationship issues that led to the affair are expressed and understood. The good news is that if you and your partner want to heal from what happened, help is available. With the guidance, support and insight of an experienced couples therapist, you can reclaim your relationship, become more flexible and fluid with each other and come out on the other side of infidelity with greater strength, commitment and connection than before.
Infidelity Counseling Can Provide You With A New Perspective And Path Forward
If both you and your partner are committed to the affair recovery process, truly want to heal your relationship and can accept that you cannot go back to the way things were before, change is possible.
It’s important to understand that you both have a responsibility in the infidelity. What led to the infidelity didn’t happen overnight, and as we work together, both of you will have the chance to express your feelings openly and hear each other with compassion. It may be that the partner who cheated had been struggling for quite some time, but felt unable to talk about it. And, while what he or she shares might feel shocking, I can help you create the space needed to truly hear and value your partner’s experience, which can help you both feel closer and better understood.
If you were the one who was cheated on, I can validate your sense of deep betrayal and your wish for retribution and/or self-protection. You, too, will have the chance to speak openly about your experience—both before and after the affair. And, I can help you share your feelings in a way that your partner can understand, accept and apologize for. We might also uncover that you have been betrayed before, whether by a past lover, parent or other trusted loved one, which can become part of both the relationship recovery and your personal healing process.
Throughout the infidelity counseling process, my primary goal is to help you connect in ways that honor the pain, insecurity and fear of loss on both sides. Both of you need to grieve because things have changed and you have lost what you once cherished. Both of you also need to forgive each other for what has been missing in the relationship and what led to this crisis point. An affair often symbolizes the death of a relationship that wasn’t serving both partners as it should. Affair recovery counseling helps committed partners adapt to changes and create a healthier, more open and connected relationship. You can begin to understand that your relationship cannot survive if it’s based on trying to control one another. In sessions, you can learn how to allow each other to be yourselves without threatening the other. You can make room to grow together and celebrate your differences while enjoying your similarities. This approach, along with the desire to forgive, repair and co-create the connection between you, represent the hallmarks of a healthy, viable relationship.
Amidst all the hurt of the wounds in affair recovery, it’s difficult to attend to the positive attributes of your partner and the strengths of your relationship. But, these features need to be given center stage so that you can use them as the core foundation on which to rebuild your relationship in ways that are more secure and reflective of what you both need and are willing to work for. The more you see your partner’s positive attributes, the easier it becomes to get past the hurt and betrayal and move into a new, more empowered and connected space with each other.
Regardless of how bad one or both of you feels right now, affair recovery is eminently possible. You can bring to light what was once hidden and get to know each other in new ways, which can keep your relationship feeling fresh, flexible, fluid and fun. With the help and support of a thoughtful, understanding couples counselor and a willingness to explore each other with curiosity and compassion, you can recommit to each other in a healthy, mature way. It is possible to foster a caring, attentive relationship and enter into a new phase of your journey together.
You still might have questions or concerns about affair recovery counseling…
I’m worried that you’ll take my partner’s side and I’ll feel even more demoralized than I already do.
I believe that an affair is a way of communicating that all is not well in the relationship and that the infidelity was your way of getting your partner to awaken to the seriousness of the situation. A lot of factors lead up to an affair, and therapy gives you a safe place to express them. I am not here to judge or take sides. Rather, my role is to hold space for important conversations to occur and to offer support, guidance and insight as you and your partner embark in a process of healing and discovery.
I’m afraid that regardless of any affair therapy we try, my partner will cheat again.
It’s common to fear that your partner will cheat again, especially if you have a history with betrayal. Trust is gone, a commitment has been broken and, in all honesty, there is no guarantee that therapy will stop your partner from cheating or otherwise disrupting your marriage in the future. But, therapy can increase the likelihood of you communicating openly before things reach a crisis point and decrease the chances of an affair occurring again. Therapy offers you a safe space to honestly explore what led up to the affair and better understand each other’s experience. It gives you a chance to really engage with and be curious about each other, which can help you both relax and feel more connected and safe in your relationship.
I’m not the one who cheated. It’s my partner who needs infidelity counseling, not me.
You were both involved in getting together and coming to this place in your relationship, and it’s important that you heal together, too. The dynamic that is occurring between you is what led to the infidelity and engaging in the therapy process as a couple can help you understand what led to the affair so you can both heal. If you want a strong, secure, connected relationship, you need to participate because your investment and presence really counts.
You Can Heal And Strengthen Your Relationship Through Affair Recovery Counseling
I invite you to take the next step and call my office at 310-985-2491 to schedule an initial appointment. I offer in person therapy in Los Angeles, California and global relationship coaching. Your relationship happiness is an investment that matters.