Do Not Simply Repair the Broken Parts
It may seem logical to think that working to heal your relationship after infidelity occurs would be enough, but it’s simply not. Instead, couples should focus their energy and work on building a brand-new relationship, just with the same person.
If your relationship is a house and a tornado of betrayal levels your home, you do not start repairing the heating and air conditioning system. Hopefully, you build a brand-new home using all new materials. You would likely not build your home in a location prone to tornadoes. You would likely add increased safety precautions to your home. You have lived and learned what you did not know you even needed to know.
After the affair storm deconstructs your relationship house down to nothing that resembles the home where you once resided, you have no choice now but to rebuild.
Sticking with the well-known home analogy, the affair tornado made you aware of foundational issues. To be clear, those foundational problems did not lead to the affair; the unfaithful partner did not need to cheat.
Until your house was demolished by the dreadful tornado, you could have worked to repair any relational structural issues. After the affair storm deconstructs your relationship house down to nothing that resembles the home where you once resided, you have no choice now but to build a new, safer place.
Of course, you have the option to walk away from the wreckage and cut your losses. No one would blame you. But for some individuals and couples, walking away and cutting losses isn’t their first option.
Top Relationship Statements
In my practice, I cannot count the number if times that I have heard the following statements:
“If I did not have these kids with you, I’d be gone.”
“If I believed in divorce, we would be getting one.”
“If it wasn’t financial suicide to divorce you, I would.”
“If you did this to me early in our marriage, I would have left, but how do I leave after 10 (plus) years, children and a mortgage later?”
Some couples have emotional reasons for staying:
“If I did not love you so much, I’d leave.”
“If there was a way that I could see my life without you, I’d ask for a divorce.”
“I don’t want to lose my in-laws and our friends.”
“I don’t want to lose you.”
Choosing to stay is only your business
It is to be expected that the betrayed partner feels negatively about staying in the relationship post affair. However, choosing to stay is only your business. It will be important for you to surround yourself with only people that support your decision, whatever that decision. Anybody can say, “I would leave if my partner cheated on me.”
But rest assured, IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE when it happens to your relationship. Nobody knows what they will do when faced with such a horrific life event. You may even be one of those people that use to say you’d leave if your partner cheated. Don’t beat yourself up about that; again it’s always easy to say when it’s NOT happening to you.
Work with a clinician that understand betrayal trauma
It is important that you and your spouse work with a clinician that understands the ins and outs of betrayal. It is not uncommon for clients to report it unhelpful and even further damaging to seek therapy from a clinician that does not specialize in infidelity recovery.
While most therapist will have a small amount if general knowledge about infidelity, it is unlikely that most clinicians will have the tools to assist you and your partner through infidelity well enough to give your relationship the best odds of avoiding future infidelity.
With telehealth now a viable option, you will be better able to locate a specialized clinician. If I had to choose between in-person sessions with a non-specialized therapist or telehealth with a specialized clinician, I would choose telehealth every single time.
3 Types of Recovery
Three types of recoveries need to occur:
The Betrayed Partner’s Recovery: You have decided that you want to give the effort to recover the relationship, and it will be a difficult road. You would be correct to ask, “I did not create this mess, so why do I have to engage in recovery?” However, it is highly unlikely that your new relationship will be built to your satisfaction without you. Unfortunately, the process of infidelity recovery cannot truly occur without you. I wish I had better news, but I have not ever just treated one partner and had a favorable outcome for the relationship. Steps are required that cannot be taken without you, betrayed partner.
The Unfaithful Partner’s Recovery: So much work is required here. Discovering why we, fellow unfaithful partners, acted so recklessly, is not an easy task. We typically have many unresolved issues that we must bring to light and properly deal with if we want any future relationship to work.
The Recovery of the Relationship: Again, a challenging task. Discovering what was broken in our relationship’s foundation often feels like an excuse for the unfaithful partner’s behavior. But this is not true; this is just where you are now. You must build a brand-new relationship house with solid foundation, so addressing what was broken is a necessary evil but never an excuse.
What If My Partner Refuses Therapy
Well, you can’t make him or her do anything. You can work on yourself, and I encourage that step. You will likely discover yourself and gain valuable insight in spite of the infidelity. You can only do what you can do. Just know, if your partner refuses to work though this appropriately, the relationship can’t build, but you can!
The GoodTherapy registry might be helpful to you. We have thousands of therapists listed with us who would love to walk with your through your infidelity journey. Find the support you need today.
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