Did the discovery of infidelity BLOW UP YOUR MARRIAGE?
Did you just find out about an affair and you can't see past your anger?
Are you feeling paralyzed by the emotional tsunami since the revelation of betrayal?
Do you wonder if you can ever trust again?
Do you blame yourself for not having seen the writing on the wall earlier?
Are you afraid that your partner will never look at you the same way again?
Uncovering an affair or a history of betrayals can be like a fire ravaging through your house. You were smelling smoke for quite some time but either you talked yourself out of looking where that smell was coming from (“No, it can’t be? I must be imagining things.”) or you were told to stay in the house even though your partner was the one that set the fire (“What are you talking about?! You’re paranoid!”).
No matter how you came to find out about the betrayals, you are now in shock, looking back at your said-house, feeling hopeless that you will ever be able to have a home again.
THE ISOLATING EXPERIENCE OF AFFAIRS:
Every relationship has its own set of boundaries that would deem any action or thought a betrayal of trust. The equation goes: betrayal + deceit = infidelity. While 25% of men and 15% women report having a sexual extra-marital affair, these numbers do not account for the prevalence of countless emotional affairs and betrayals that are happening all around us, which by some accounts bring the numbers closer to 60% of couples are impacted by some form of deceit.
Whether you are the injuring parTNER or the betrayed partNER, affairs lock both partners in a deep place of shame and isolation.
On the one end, the betrayed partner sits alone with his or her shame about not having known about the infidelity earlier (“How can I have been so blind?!”) and eventually even choosing to stay in the marriage despite the revelations. Unable to share what he or she is going through, this partner has to contend with the myriad questions and alarm bells swirling all around, while pretending to the outside world that all is normal. One minute you’re going through all the credit card statements, replaying all the times you spent together through this new lens, combing through every friend on your partner’s Facebook page wondering who was complicit. The detective work can be endless and exhausting when you’re so alone with the hurt.
When the person you want to turn toward the most is also the same person who set your house on fire, you end up being in a constant state of angst, dread and panic.
On the other end, the injuring partner is ashamed that he or she could be so callus with their spouse and the family unit; questioning what kind of person he/she is deep down, their integrity. This partner is desperately hoping that redemption is not too far away while drowning in what feels like futile excuses (“I’m sorry. How many times can I apologize?!”). At times vacillating between deep remorse and defensiveness in the face of constant reminders of what was done. Just when you think you’re on the other side of the storm, another one is right around the corner. You don’t think this will ever end.
Both partner are worried that the relationship will never feel safe again. And while you can’t go back to the way things used to be (nor should you), you can work through what happened and choose to write a new chapter.
THE ‘ATTACHMENT INJURY REPAIR MODEL’ CAN HELP YOU WRITE A NEW CHAPTER FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP:
You may have just found out about the infidelity or perhaps it's already been some time, but you can't seem to get on the same page in order to move forward together. Working through an affair recovery process requires a thorough model to process the events and the heightened emotions. This unfolds in three phases: the crisis, meaning-making, and visioning.
We will begin by unpacking the impact of the affair. This won’t be about blaming and pointing fingers in either direction. Uncovering infidelity takes a significant toll on the entirety of the relationship. I will join each of you exactly where you are in the experience – typically you will be in different places, which is why it’s important that I hold both of your truths. Ultimately, this initial phase is about creating safety by identifying what exactly the injured partner needs to stop the bleeding.
Once that sense of safety is established, together we will start getting to the underbelly of the affair and identify what were the parts that made your relationship vulnerable to infidelity, what’s keeping you so isolated from each other, and what is getting in the way of sharing your deeper emotions (those buried underneath the anger). The goal is that you both share a cohesive narrative/story of what and why the infidelity happened so that it never happens again.
Lastly, we will work on redefining the relationship and creating a vision of what you both want next for yourselves. It is absolutely possible to come back from an affair. In fact, uncovering the affair can be the catalyst for a better and more honest relationship.
THIS IS NOT AN EASY JOURNEY, HERE ARE SOME COMMON QUESTIONS:
“Not sure if I can commit to couples counseling. I’m really on the fence if I can stay in this marriage after the hurt.”
When your marriage has taken a hit because of an affair, the thought of signing up for couples counseling can seem overwhelming. If you are unsure that you want to work on the marriage, you would benefit from Discernment Counseling to determine whether you want to part ways or work on the marriage. Find out more about Discernment Counseling.
“Is the marriage even worth all this effort to save it?”
In truth, it’s almost impossible to answer this question without processing thoroughly the impact and meaning of the affair. Whether you ultimately hope to stay in the marriage does not prevent you from being committed to processing the infidelity, especially when there are children who are impacted by your dynamics. There’s a lot to consider before going your separate ways and remember that you are not the only decision-maker.
“Will I ever be able to forgive and move on?”
Yes, you can choose to forgive and from an empowered place move on in whatever way that will look like for you. You have to recognize that your feelings right now won’t be the same feelings down the line and expect them to fluctuate. Processing an affair takes a lot of time (6-24 months) and you will find that through our work you will access softer emotions that are right now submerged by your anger. Forgiveness isn’t just a gift you can choose to give your spouse, it’s one you will give to yourself to release you from the pain you are feeling right now.
“I had the affair. I’ve apologized. Are these sessions going to be about dragging me through the mud?”
While you may have taken responsibility for your actions and said “I’m sorry,” getting to the other side of an affair takes time. The Attachment Injury Recovery Model is one that promotes holding both of your stories and experiences equally. I can attend to your partner’s hurt and anger, and eventually begin to open up some space for you. Despite common convention may have it, affairs are not always about an unhappy partner or marriage. They are often about marital dynamics stifled by false expectations of oneself and the other.
UNCOVERING AN AFFAIR DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THE END:
Uncovering infidelity and deceit is a traumatic experience that requires steady guidance to unpack what/how/why this has happened. I will provide you with a judgment-free zone a proven process for both of you to openly explore the most difficult conversations about the affair and work toward a resolution fitting of your new understanding of your marriage/relationship.
*** To find out more, I invite you to book a FREE consultation with me. I offer in-person psychotherapy in Westport, CT (Fairfield County) and online counseling throughout Connecticut and New York ***
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