Trying to reconnect after infidelity is a daunting task. But it may be a more common situation than you ever imagined. At least one in five adults have had an extramarital sexual experience.
Thanks to couples counseling, however, many of those relationships have survived. And beyond survival, they have thrived as well.
How do you, as a couple, define infidelity?
Each couple will decide how the concept of “infidelity” is defined. For example:
Most common: One of the partners has engaged in sexual activity with someone other than their spouse.
For some, the issue is not physical intimacy. Rather, it’s more about an emotional connection found outside the marriage.
More recently, perceived infidelity may include online activities and pornography consumption.
The variations and perceptions depend solely on the couple, but must be decided upon together. Regardless of what your personal vision of fidelity is, once it’s been betrayed, you’ll need the following to recover:
A shared commitment to rebuilding trust
Radically honest communication
Teamwork and patience
Lots of help
What is couples counseling like?
You will be asked to communicate. This often means enhancing and refining methods and styles of communication. You will be uncomfortable, especially if you are the betrayer. Reconnecting after infidelity is very possible but it will require diligent and often painful work. You will need to commit.
Don’t focus on a time limit. Focus on doing the work to rescue your relationship.
In addition, if possible, each spouse may wish to also have a one-on-one therapist. In those sessions, it’s quite helpful to have someone on your side and focused almost solely on helping you assess and meet your needs.
7 Ways Couples Counseling Can Help You Reconnect After Infidelity
1. Discovering new levels of communication
This process involves questions and answers. Lots of questions and lots of answers. The betrayed spouse is encouraged to openly ask those questions. You have a right to know the details. Healing is difficult without some answers. The unfaithful partner is guided to answer all questions clearly and honestly. There’s no value in leaving any aspect unexplored in a situation like this.
2. Learning how to do what best for your children
One of the top reasons couples seek counseling after infidelity is for the sake of their kids. The shattering of relationship trust can put quite a strain on the entire family. Hence, it’s crucial to develop skills for managing the household during the long healing phase.
3. Assigning and dealing with blame
This is probably most important for the betrayed spouse. Do not blame yourself. A counselor will prevent any confusion on this basic point.
4. Choosing a path of less secrecy
In an increasingly digital age, we all have our own devices, accounts and passwords. Now is the time to become more open and transparent in your daily activities.
5. Working towards forgiveness
Trust takes a while to build and earn. It can be lost in a moment.
Therefore, it’s helpful to see the path to forgiveness as long and winding. You will encounter anger and doubt and fear and pain on this journey towards forgiveness.
6. Creating together-time
It’s tempting to throw yourself 24/7 into “fixing” everything. However, in order to create a new post-infidelity bond, it helps to create some non-recovery together-time.
7. General mediation
The trauma of infidelity may have led you to counseling. But what about what lies beneath the surface? A skilled mediator will listen to both spouses. Consequently, they will also guide them to recognize previously unseen patterns.
Digging deeper can enable the couple to move past the infidelity, repair trust, and address other lingering issues.