In my time as a marriage counselor, there is probably one statement I have heard more than any other, and that is, “I just don’t think I will ever get over this.” This statement is often said by my clients who have recently learned their spouse has had an affair. The second most common phrase I hear is, “I just don’t think I can ever trust them again.”
The initial shock of infidelity cuts deep. Knowing your partner has broken your trust in such a profound way can completely turn your world upside down. An attachment injury occurs when one partner violates the expectation that the other and the person whose trust has been broken feels a sense of “never again will I trust this person”, “never again will I let my guard down”. This creates an impasse to bonding and connection in the relationship.
Whether or not a couple can recover from infidelity depends on personal Factors such as each person’s past attachment history, their model of self and other, and their capacity for affect regulation. Other factors such as past history of racial trauma or discrimination can impact the present betrayal. For those couples who want to try and stay together, it will take work on both of their parts. But healing can happen.
The Recovery Process
Recovery must begin with an absolute ending to the affair. All ties must be cut before the work can begin to repair broken trust and connection. Should the affair continue behind the scenes, in my experience, the relationship is very unlikely to succeed.
Using Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, the couple first begins to make better sense of the negative cycle that has eroded the connection and communication in their relationship, even prior to the affair.
Exploring this in a caring manner acts as the antidote to the traumatic experience. Relationship is re- defined as a potential safe haven and the couple can once again feel safe and connected.
If you would like to seek counselling for infidelity, please get in touch with Deborah. She specializes in helping couples recover from betrayals of all kinds including infidelity. Please schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation call with her and she’d be more than happy to discuss how she may be able to help.