Lost in the Aftermath of Infidelity? -A Roadmap to Healing and Restoring Broken Vows.
Can my marriage be saved? Where do we go from here? Is there hope for us? Will I ever heal? These are some of the questions that people may ask when they are facing the aftermath of infidelity. Trust has been broken. Anger, hurt, disappointment and fear are common feelings at this time. I believe that a marriage can survive and eventually, even thrive following infidelity- with time, honesty, open communication and great efforts from both partners. In order to do this, both partners must be willing to work on the relationship. One person cannot make the other want to heal the marriage-just like no one made the straying partner go outside of the marriage.
Betrayed partners need to be able to address the trauma, betrayal, uncertainties and pain that they are experiencing as a result of the infidelity. The staying partner needs to hear this, have complete transparency in all areas and must be able to answer all questions that are needed to be answered, as determined by the betrayed spouse. If there is complete transparency, ability to listen, ability to talk about the trauma and own the fact that the spouse who betrayed caused harm, there is a good chance for healing and restoring broken vows.
In counseling, we lay out the map. We look at where you are, and you determine where you want to go. With the help of your therapist, you will be guided and counseled on how to reach your destination. It will take work to get to the destination- you will navigate through feelings of anger, betrayal, love and hope. You will need to be each other’s co-pilots during this journey. You will navigate through battle zones at times, and cruise through beautiful landscapes at others. Remind yourself that this is a journey- you do not magically arrive at your destination. Finger pointing and blame are not helpful on this journey, so do not bring any of those along.
Stops along this journey will be determined by you. My suggestions would be: anger, grief, communication, intimacy, rebuilding trust, love, hope, and joy and at some point, forgiveness. I would suggest that you do not focus solely on what is wrong in the marriage, but when the time is right, also examine what is right in the marriage. What does your spouse do for you that make your life easier? What do you appreciate about your spouse? What has kept you together this long? What strengths do you bring as a couple?
This ride may be bumpy at times and you may not always like your co-pilot. That is okay. Just as long as you and your co-pilot have the same destination in mind, you can reach your destination. You can arrive with tools that you may not have had before. You can arrive with restored hope, belief and self-confidence. You will have turned over many boulders, stones and pebbles on your journey; you will most likely know yourself and your spouse much better than when you started the journey. Once you “arrive” at your destination, you may want to continue the journey, select a different destination and continue to explore and learn.
Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified Counselor, McKinney, TX.
Supervised by: Debra Larsen, MS, LPC-S
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Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist