The betrayal one feels in a marriage when one, or both, partners have been unfaithful (physically, online, or emotionally) is very real. But recovery is possible. Unfortunately the way I see couples attempt to recover often causes more damage.
The partner who has the affair has needs (rarely sexual in nature) that are often unexpressed. In light of the affair where these needs were taken outside the relationship, they feel dismissed and guilty even about talking about their needs. They make promises they hope will make it all “go away” rather than fix the underlying problem. They struggle to see why their partner can’t “get past it.” They often rely on will power claiming they will never do it again; however, they don’t understand how they got in that position in the first place!
The partner who has been hurt understandably feels the need be assured that it will never happen again. The problem is that they often pursue it with “investigative” behaviors, conversations, and demands that do more damage than repair. These seem like they are “reasonable” demands given the betrayal that has occurred; however, it creates a never ending cycle that prevents affair recovery. Sometimes the betrayed partner assumes that they’ve done something wrong, or that they are “not enough” for their partner. This is rarely the case and it takes time to learn to be confident again, both in your relationship and in yourself.
Recovery from an affair requires that both people are able to find a way back to meeting their partners needs with compassion. I work with couples to develop a meaningful plan to identify what put the marriage at risk in the first place and develop an observable, meaningful plan to stop the cycle of affair(s). I also work with couples to recapture that feeling that their relationship is alive and fulfilling. We look at how love is expressed and received in the relationship and help couples work smarter, not harder at making their partner feel loved. I help the couple with communication to stop damaging the relationship with harmful patterns of communication and replace it with invitations to deeper clearer understanding.
Sometimes individual therapy is needed before couples are able to get past the resentment and sometimes grief that comes with an affair. Helping each person prepare for couples counseling is an important step in making sure that the couples counseling is effective. Too often couples counseling falls apart when one or the other partner isn’t ready to commit to the relationship because of hurt feelings, hopelessness, or problems trusting. In these cases I start with some individual therapy and may refer to another therapist, depending on the needs of the couple and their stated goals.
Recovery from an affair is hard, emotionally taxing work, but it is possible, call today.
J. Kipp Lanning, LIMHP, LPC
1001 South 70th Street
Lincoln, NE 68510
(402) 325-0117 x1