Ongoing sessions will help you both make sense of what happened and normalize the huge shifts in emotion and behaviour that can send couples reeling after infidelity. Good living habits—eating, sleeping, exercise, etc.—will be encouraged, as will getting back to a semblance of normal.
For the injured partner, we will be mindful of trigger dates—anniversaries, birthdays— which often bring the affair all back to the surface. If the affair was discovered versus disclosed, we examine this more in-depth since discovery rather than disclosure creates an extra layer of trust problems. The person who injured the relationship will be supported to really stay with the process, even when it gets difficult. The key to this is assisting the injuring partner to expect and patiently stay with their injured partner’s extreme emotions. This is challenging as the injuring partner often finds themselves becoming defensive and frustrated.
As we continue to work together, we will explore the dynamics that made your relationship more susceptible to an affair in the first place. You will gain insight into yourselves and each other as we examine each of your unique personal makeup and understanding of faithfulness. Over time—as you continue to gain a clearer perspective—we will help you come to some decisions about your future and whether or not to stay together.
A modality we use when dealing with infidelity is Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFCT). EFT is based on attachment. Attachment is a survival code, and partnering is a manifestation of the attachment bond. When that bond is broken, it affects that survival code. Moreover, when you behave angrily and distance yourselves from each other, it further threatens your attachment bond.
Sometimes the partner who has not had the affair wants just the person who had the affair to go for counselling: “I wasn’t the one who cheated,” is the comment. Or, sometimes the person who had the affair is frustrated that his/her partner can’t seem to get past the affair: “It’s over, I made a mistake, let’s move on,” is the comment.
Couples In Step therapists have both the injured and the injuring partner attend therapy conjointly. Both have suffered. Both are hurting. Both must engage in the recovery process if the relationship is to heal.
The first task is to for you to learn skills to navigate the chaos, intensity and crisis. This takes time and patience for both of you. Your therapist’s role is to support, encourage and validate both partners and to help you develop tools that will help calm the crisis. This means helping the person who had the affair stay engaged while the person who’s been betrayed vents, asks questions, etc.
EFT slows both of you down, helping you to regulate yourselves and each other. It provides the space necessary to work on either restoring the attachment bond or deciding to separate. Either way, it’s a mutual decision instead of a reaction.
Healing after an affair is never easy, but the therapists at Couples In Step are well-trained accompanying and guiding you along the journey. With commitment and work, you can come out the other side of infidelity feeling stronger and more deeply connected than ever before.
You may be wondering if it’s even worthwhile to come for counselling after there’s been an affair. It is!
Bottom line. Counselling helps! More than one couple has said, “We wouldn’t wish an affair on anyone, but never-the-less, we’re closer and more connected now than we’ve ever been.”
Couples In Step has helped many couples navigate the complexity and all-consuming effects of affairs. You’re in good hands when you call Couples In Step for therapy.