Once an affair has been exposed, the marriage may be put in a state of crisis. If you are a couple, struggling with the aftermath of infidelity in your marriage, you are experiencing anger, pain and confusion regarding the state of the marriage. Both of you may be wondering if the marriage is strong enough to survive this?
There are three issues that you may find helpful to know as you both
work through this difficult time. First, consider the importance of time. Do not rush into hasty decisions that are based on your raw emotions at this time. Do not rush towards any major decision and allow time to process what has happened. As a couple, you may feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster.
Secondly, consider who to tell. Evaluate who your safe people are. Safe people are those who will not pass judgment or hold it over your head regarding your decisions. It may not be in your best interest to engage your families or best friends. Regardless of who you decide to tell, take time to evaluate how these selected people will react. You do not want to choose people who will hold a grudge or ill feelings towards a spouse, should you decide to work on healing the marriage.
Thirdly, explore how this happened. The betrayed spouse is never blamed or at fault for the infidelity that intruded upon the marriage. It is important, however, to evaluate all disconnects that may have been present in the marriage. Both of you may have shut down, avoided
discussing problems, or sharing what you are experiencing. Sometimes, couples do not communicate what their needs are due to fears of rejection, hurting their spouse or inability to identify needs.
A therapist can guide you through the ups and downs following infidelity. In counseling you decide what your goals are and the therapist works with you to meet the goals that you have established. The blame factor does not play a part in counseling, but accountability is an important factor. The straying spouse needs to be accountable for the choice of infidelity and not blame the betrayed spouse as an escape from accountability. The betrayed spouse must also be willing to work towards the healing of the marriage and not hold the infidelity as a constant poison in the marriage . It is encouraged to explore what the marriage looked like before the affair and during the affair. This is done to discover what disconnects there may have been between the two of you. It is possible to restore a marriage following infidelity. It will take work, honesty and willingness to commit to the process.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
If you are a couple who is struggling with the aftermath of infidelity, it may be helpful to identify what went wrong in the marriage and to know about the stages of infidelity in order to learn and heal. First of all, it is important for you both to acknowledge and know that the betrayed spouse is never blamed or at fault.
When one spouse chooses to have an affair, they have the sole responsibility for choosing to step outside the marriage. They need to be accountable for their actions, and finger pointing is not helpful. The spouse who had the affair decided to do so for a variety of reasons. If they were not happy in the marriage, they could have addressed this in the marriage. However, there are important stages to explore as it relates to infidelity that most likely relate to both parties. Below are the four stages relating to infidelity as identified by Don-David Lusterman, PhD :
Stage1: Poor Self-Disclosure and Problem-Solving
Many couples who are affected by infidelity may appear to be doing okay on the surface. However, if you dig deeper, you may find that both of you have difficulty sharing how you truly feel and think. As a couple, you probably have difficulty revealing yourselves to each other. You may not discuss problems, feelings and areas of discontent with each other. Pain, anger, frustration, hurt and other unresolved issues were not dealt with and left to linger and burden the marriage. The inability to work through and talk openly about feelings may have lead you both to resentment and unresolved issues that weigh down the marriage and lead to discontentment.
Stage 2: Onset of the Affair
As a means to medicate the unresolved anger, unmet needs or the need to seek power and soothe an ego, one of you decided to reach out to someone outside the marriage who was willing to provide the “fix” of unmet needs .During this stage, the betrayed spouse was not aware that an affair had intruded upon the marriage.
Stage 3: Cold Rage
At this point, you as the betrayed spouse did not have a conscious
awareness of the affair, but you probably sensed that something was not quite right. As a couple, you felt disconnected. One of you, or both of you, may have shut down sexually or less time was spent together. This sense of “things not being right” lead to anger for the betrayed spouse. During this stage, the betrayed spouse confronted the straying spouse, but all inquiries of infidelity were denied. Anger and frustration was constantly increasing within the marriage.
Stage 4: Hot Rage
As a couple, the Hot Rage stage is the ultimate blow up that put the
marriage in a state of crisis. The betrayed spouse, who had been in denial, despite the sense of things being “off” in the marriage, now knows of the affair. This is the stage where it is obvious and the evidence is too overwhelming to deny. The built up, stuffed anger now explodes into a fit of rage. The marriage is in a state of crisis. A crisis is a traumatic event. It is also a time for potential change and hope. One change can be the couple’scapability of working through the betrayal and what went wrong. Another is that the discovery may signal the death of a relationship.
As a couple, you may relate to the above stages. You will also know that when infidelity is discovered in the marriage, there is a tremendous amount of pain, anger and insecurity. Emotions do not need to steer you in a direction or another. Allow yourselves to feel the emotions and give yourselves permission to take some time to decide how you wish to proceed. Infidelity can be the end of a marriage. Infidelity can also serve as a wakeup call as to the state of the marriage.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, therapist at Mckinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist