24 May Back From Betrayal: Restoring Your Relationship After Infidelity
I can’t tell you how many couples I’ve seen who come in after infidelity feeling lost and hopeless regarding their relationship. Often couples don’t know what to do or where to turn. Some clients don’t know if they should stay or go. It takes a lot of courage for a couple to come in after cheating has occurred and say, “What went wrong?” and “Where do we go from here?”
Some relationships ended long ago and infidelity sealed the deal to break-up. Sometimes infidelity is a symptom of what’s happening in the relationship. Meaning, some individuals bring in “a third” to create distance between their partners, because one or both struggle with being close and vulnerable with the individual they love the most. Some individuals have used cheating as a way to cope with stress and anxiety. Some use it as a way to feel “good enough.” Whatever the reason, I think it’s powerful when a couple is willing to explore, heal and grow from it, no matter the outcome.
Couples who survive a crisis such as infidelity have invested a great deal into the relationship and aren’t ready to throw it away. There is a foundation and strength to work from. It helps when the cheater agrees to stop the behavior and no longer have affairs or seek sex/companionship outside the relationship. I think it’s important for this individual to seek individual therapy and explore what caused he or she to seek someone outside of his or her primary relationship (i.e. break an agreement made within the primary relationship). The individual who cheated needs to take personal responsibility for his or her actions and develop ways to get what he or she needs in an effective way without violating a boundary or commitment. It’s helpful to have the partner, who was cheated on, seek individual therapy to process his or her grief. Your life has changed and it will take time to restore trust. Time heals.
The couple should seek couples therapy with a couples therapist who specializes in the area of infidelity. The therapist you chose should understand human attachment, closeness and intimacy problems. Our therapists have this experience and know how to help couples heal and restore their relationship. The couple will learn how to communicate effectively, identify barriers of closeness and intimacy, restore trust, and develop new skills. I think it’s important for both individuals to hold a vision of what he or she wants to feel by the end of treatment. What do they want to see happen in their own individual life and for the life of the relationship.
• All successful relationships need the following to thrive:
• Sharing of dreams and adventure
• Time together outside of children and others
• Talking and listening time
• Touch and sex
• Thoughtfulness and thinking of your partner outside of time together
• Space for the relationship, without using the relationship to get all your needs met
• Trust (restoring after it’s been broken–time helps with this one)
• Identify your own history, behavior and negative thinking that interferes in your relationship
• Taking responsibility for your own actions
• Respect, and being kind to one another
• Effective communication
• Ability to tolerate (appropriate) amounts of emotions from your partner