The revelation of an affair often leads to overwhelming feelings of despair for both partners. Couples commonly experience depression, anxiety, and a profound sense of loss. However painful this stage may be, it is possible for couples to recover from an affair. In fact, some couples are able to pick up the pieces and build a newer, stronger, more emotionally connected marriage than before. But the immediate aftermath of an affair is a particularly vulnerable time in a marriage. Without professional therapy, few couples are able to weather the storm of emotions that infidelity can unleash on the relationship.
Coping With Betrayal and Guilt
While both partners usually feel a great sense of loss after an affair, the betrayed partner may also experience symptoms similar to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. He or she may obsess over the details of the affair, become paranoid about the possibility of further betrayal, or even suffer flashbacks to emotionally traumatic events. In this posttraumatic state, the betrayed spouse often shuts down emotionally, focusing on survival.
Meanwhile, the other spouse may experience remorse, feeling powerless to reverse the damage done. This may lead to depression, anger, or both. In this stage, little remains of the friendship and trust that once provided the foundation of the relationship, and both partners have difficulty envisioning any path toward reconciliation.
How Therapy Can Help
An affair is often a symptom of deeper marital issues that have developed over long periods of time. Problems with communication, intimacy, commitment, diminishing friendship, or substance abuse can leave a relationship more vulnerable to affairs the longer these issues continue. For some couples, the actual affair may signal the end of the relationship—for others, it is an opportunity to start over again, rebuilding a relationship worth saving.
If you are committed to saving your marriage and rebuilding your relationship, professional therapy can help you get through the traumatic shock of the affair. Because your marriage is in a very vulnerable place right now, we will schedule your appointment within 2 days of your call. In the meantime, you and your partner can take some important steps to prevent the situation from worsening before your first session.
What You Can Do Before Your First Session
If you are the partner who had the affair, it is very important that you reiterate–as often as possible–your commitment to your spouse. Your partner needs to hear from you that, despite your infidelity, you are committed to saving your marriage.
If you are the betrayed partner, consider postponing difficult questions about the affair until your first therapy session. Avoid asking about or demanding to know the sexual details of the affair. Discussions such as these can aggravate the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress.
In treatment, we will focus a significant amount of time to getting your questions answered in a way that leads to better understanding. For now, the best thing you can do is to reaffirm your commitment to each other and resolve to repair your relationship through therapy.
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I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity even if I may not have it at the beginning.Mahatma Gandhi