You remember the early days of your relationship and how in love you felt. The excitement, the romance and the love. What happened? What went wrong? How did you go from that to…this? These feelings of disconnection, anger & shame. It’s almost like you don’t know the person you once loved so dearly. You’re both trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. The spouse or partner who had the affair feels shame and guilt. However, they might not even fully understand why they strayed. The person who was cheated on feels betrayed. In fact, the emotion can be so strong that you might call it “betrayal trauma,” because infidelity can truly feel traumatic. Yet…you’re committed to the relationship. You want to make this work. This marriage or relationship matters to you. You’re both feeling hurt right now, but you’re thinking about trying couples counseling for infidelity.
Marriages & Relationships Can Recover with Counseling
The good news: Your relationship can recover & even thrive through counseling for infidelity
An affair, while devastating right now, doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship. The truth is that most couples need help to move beyond an affair in a healthy manner. This is a difficult, painful process. However, a skilled couples and marriage therapist can act as your guide. I’ve walked this path with other couples, and I’ve seen them find happiness in their relationship again.
A note to the spouse who was cheated on:
You’re wondering how to deal with infidelity. You want to make things work, but you’re wondering, “Does anyone actually stay with a cheating spouse? Can this marriage possibly be repaired?” The answer is yes, many couples do stay together even after infidelity. Sometimes, the spouse that was cheated on feels like they need permission to stay in this relationship. You don’t want the infidelity to continue or ever happen again, but you love your partner and make it work. If you are both committed to the relationship and your partner
A note to the spouse who participated in the affair:
You love your spouse and you feel deeply ashamed of what happened. However, something was missing in the relationship. You had a need that wasn’t met. Most likely, you aren’t even sure how to put your finger on what was missing. And you have no idea how to begin to repair the relationship. Maybe you’re scared your partner will give up and leave. They don’t trust you anymore no matter what you say. It’s like you’re constantly under the microscope, but you feel like you can’t say anything about it because of your actions. You really want counseling to work so your partner will trust you. But, also so you can feel satisfied in your relationship again as well. If you value your relationship, have ended the affair and will commit to the work of couples counseling, I can help you and your partner grow together again.
What to Expect in Couples Counseling for Infidelity
When your arm has a fracture what do you? If you are like most of us, you seek help from a physician. Most likely, you’ll see an orthopedic surgeon who will set the fracture. Over time, the fracture will heal. You’ll probably have additional visits with the doctor and have specific instructions for how to care for the injured arm. For instance, you may need to avoid lifting heavy objects or need to wear a sling for most of the day. But if you follow the treatment plan, your arm will heal. At first, it’s still a little weak but it regains strength as time goes on.
Affair recovery is very similar to an arm fracture. When you’ve had a major injury to your relationship, you come see a specialist in the form of a couple’s counselor. Together, we’ll set goals for your relationship and come up with a treatment plan. As we move through the counseling process, you’ll slowly grow back together and heal.
How Counseling for Infidelity and Affair Recovery Works
In counseling sessions, we will discuss how you can begin to rebuild trust as a couple. In fact, trust built through open communication and consistent behavior will be the cornerstone of our work together. At the same time, we will work to improve your communication as a couple and help each person identify what they truly want in the relationship. Eventually, you’ll move into a place of acceptance toward what happened and begin to find ways to meet each of your needs moving forward.
This is a time for reflection and growing together as a couple. In fact, this can be a time for new beginnings and possibility. After the trauma of the affair has been addressed, and you are ready to move as a couple toward rebuilding your relationship that is stronger than it has been in years.
Homework Between Affair Recovery Sessions
When you are in couples counseling for affair recover, you can expect to have homework assignments to complete as a couple between sessions. Homework may mean going on dates, beginning to use gentle humor with one another or trying to re-engage with one another using affection. The homework assignments may not always feel natural or comfortable at first. After all, you’ve interacted with anger, fear or indifference for a long time now.
However, completing your homework is essential to beginning to reconnect. I assign homework that will help you get to know one another again and create new, positive memories together. These are opportunities for you to move past the pain and hurt so you can start to enjoy each other again and allow feelings of love to take root once more.
A note about patience
Rebuilding a relationship after an affair takes time. Both partners need to be patient with themselves, one another, and the relationship itself. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Progress will seem very slow at times, and moving through the initial “shock” phase may feel exhausting. In fact, sometimes it feels like you’re moving forward and then you take a step back. You’ll feel exhausted or wonder if you can skip over steps.
However, if you and your partner are both able to find the patience to work through the steps, I am here to act as your guide. I have helped many other couples work through the process of affair recover and go on to have successful marriages for years to come. I know this path and I can partner with you on your journey.
The No Secrets Rule
It’s important to say upfront that I won’t continue affair recovery counseling if one partner is continuing the outside relationship and wants this to be kept from their partner. If your relationship is to recover, it’s important that both partners come to counseling with open communication. Keeping a secret about an ongoing affair until this relationships improves will actually prevent healing in the relationship you are discussing in counseling. So, when you choose to come to couples counseling after an affair please know that I will not keep secrets about ongoing infidelity.
If you are in an open relationship or exploring a polyamorous relationship, it is important to have open communication around expectations. In these situations, open communication is more important than ever to make sure everyone involved feels heard, respected, and ok with the relationship. If one person doesn’t feel like they are being true to their values or are agreeing to an open relationship due to fear of being abandoned, it can be hard to find true healing and closeness in your relationship.
When It was an Emotional Affair
Not every affair is sexual. Sometimes, the betrayal can be a strong emotional connection to another partner. An emotional connection so strong it can feel romantic even if nothing physical happened. When that emotional connection interferes with the closeness and connection in your own relationship, it has crossed the line and become a problem. The same and intense feelings can be similar to those each partners experience when the affair was sexual.
Affair recovery counseling can also help couples where the infidelity was more emotional than physical. As a couples counselor, I have helped many couples who have experienced disconnection of any kind. In fact, similar couples counseling techniques will help regardless of the type of extramarital relationship the couple is addressing in our sessions.
You’ll Never Forget…But Your Relationship can be Strong Again
Remember the fractured arm we discussed earlier? Even after your arm has healed, a doctor can see a small mark on an x-ray. But in general, your arm functions well. Perhaps you appreciate your arm more than you used to and you are more aware of the importance of protecting it to avoid future injury.
Similarly, after affair recovery counseling the memory of the affair still exists. You haven’t forgotten about the pain. But it’s faint now. In some ways, you may appreciate your marriage more than ever. And hopefully, you’ll use the skills you learn in counseling to protect your relationship for years to come.
Relevant Blog Posts for Affair Recovery & Counseling for Infidelity
As a couples therapist, I am always looking for ways to help people improve their relationships. One way I do this is through keeping a blog where I often share tips about relationships & marriage. Here are a few blogs I’ve written on these topics:
- 3 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Spouse or Partner
- The Impact of Grief on Relationships
- How to Get the Most Out of Couples Counseling
Also feel free to read this wonderful article about relationships published by the Gottman Institute:
STARTING QUALITY COUNSELING FOR INFIDELITY & AFFAIR RECOVERY IN CINCINNATI, OH IS EASY:
- Get in touch with Dr. Timothy Barron to set up your first appointment.
- Attend an intake appointment.
- Begin building better communication, reconnect with your partner and see your relationship begin to heal.
Other Services Dr. Timothy Barron Offers
In addition to affair recovery or counseling for infidelity Timothy Barron LPCC-S provides a wide range of mental health services at his Cincinnati counseling office. Other services include marriage & couples counseling, premarital counseling, relationship & marriage counseling after retirement, counseling for college students, career counseling, anxiety treatment and depression counseling at his Cincinnati, OH based counseling practice. He also provides relationship tips on his mental health blog. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment. Things can get better, and counseling can be part of that process.