5 Ways to Recover from Infidelity

Addictions, Asian Shame, Counseling & Coaching, Dating1 comment

Dave Emmett of PhotoPin

One of the most devastating emotional, physical, and spiritualwounds in a coupleship is when cheating occurs.  Once this is discovered, the betrayed partner wants to know the truth while the offending partner may acknowledge the infidelity but is fearful of sharing more lest the relationship end in a divorce, separation, or break-up.

As a psychotherapist who specializes in sexual and cultural issues, here are 5 areas that are recommended for the relationship to get the healing it deserves in times of infidelity.

1)  Transparency (disclosure)

Typically what happens is the betrayed partner “discovers” the infidelity through text messages, emails, pictures, etc.   A confrontation occurs where the offending partner either denies or eventually acknowledges the infidelity.  Yet the details and the depth of the betrayal is often kept hidden and minimized.

In a formal therapeutic disclosure (i.e. conducted in front of a therapist), the offending spouse reads a written account of what occurred which includes dates, places, people (names not given unless it’s someone known to the betrayed partner).  This process can take a couple of months after the discovery so the offending spouse has time to write down what occurred and the process is guided by a therapist so what’s needed to be revealed is shared.  It’s not an apology letter rather it’s a letter of facts (what, when, where, and who in some cases).

The rationale for this type of disclosure is the offending partner would rather work on “healing” and “moving forward” without giving consideration to the crazy-making produced by the infidelity.  In giving a thorough account of his/her actions, this helps restore a sense of sanity to the betrayed spouse.  In addition, sometimes there may be more indiscretions that need to be shared that can include other sexual partners, subscriptions to dating/sexsites, money spent, and/or other pertinent details related to the cheating.

2)  Personal introspection

Understanding of the cause for the infidelity is paramount if one is to prevent it from happening again.  This usually means individual or group therapy where the offending spouse can feel safe to share what contributed to the betrayal (social, financial, relational stressors) and how one justified the behaviors (e.g. “my partner isn’t interested in sex”).  This allows therapists to then probe and help clients figure out new and healthier ways to work through difficulties that inevitably will come up again in one’s life but with a much different reaction than a need to cheat on one’s spouse.

3) Recognizing triggers, stressors, high risk environments to mitigate future issues.  This is related to introspection as it allows the offending spouse to recognize emotional triggers, stressors, and environments where one may need to be extremely cautious and wary if put in similar situations (e.g. being away in another city while on a business trip).article continues after advertisement

4) Screening for past/current behaviors to see if this is a larger issue of compulsivity and/or addiction. Is this an isolated incident or has this occurred in past relationships or have there been multiple partners in the current relationship.  If so, there could be a pattern where compulsivity has been recognized and must be treated with additional care under the lens of possible addiction to sexual behaviors.

5) The impacted partner should be allowed to grieve.  This is an understanding where the offending partner must recognize how their actions have shredded the relational trust and how much effort and time it takes to regain it.  

I’ve seen far too many men/women who cheated on their partners and think since there hasn’t been any more cheating and they’re being loyal that the impacted partner doesn’t have reason to question or distrust them anymore.  Oftentimes, the offending spouse has a time period in his/her head of what they feel is enough time to continue to feel angry, betrayed, and distrustful.  I would caution putting any time period in your head other than to think of years rather than months when it comes to full restoration of trust, encouragement, and optimism in the relationship.  

While it’s a very challenging road towards healing, those that do put in the time and effort have the potential to discover a new means of living that gives them even deeper appreciation, understanding, empathy, and vitality to their once broken relationship.

One Comment
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