Healing From Infidelity

Infidelity in marriage is a tremendous assault on the commitment of the wedding vows. If you discover that your spouse has stepped outside the marriage, you undoubtedly have complex emotions and questions that need to be addressed. For some people, the automatic reaction is to think the marriage is over. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. If you both want to save the marriage, and there is no abuse involved, your marriage can heal. 

The emotional impact of the betrayal of infidelity

While there are many ways for a spouse to betray your trust – substance abuse, lying, financial misdeeds – cheating can feel like it is the most damaging to the relationship. You’ve been betrayed, you’re deeply hurt, and you may be hating your partner or asking yourself what you did wrong to cause him or her to cheat on you, or maybe both. 

Infidelity can cause an avalanche of emotions that can spiral into other areas of your life. You no longer feel like you can trust your spouse, but this distrust can spread to others, as well, making you feel like you can’t trust anyone or anything anymore. You may find your work performance affected because of sadness, anger, or brain fog. You may become testier with the kids, or more clingy. It’s imperative that your emotions be addressed and healed.

But what about the offending partner? Your spouse is likely feeling deep shame as well as remorse for having hurt you. Your unfaithful spouse may be fearful that all is lost, that you will leave and take the kids. Conversely, in some cases, the spouse may compensate by blaming you for your past failures to justify the affair. This kind of behavior can make it even harder to save a marriage after betrayal. It is important to remember that infidelity can seem inexcusable, but that doesn’t mean you may not have things you need to address, too. It’s a painful road to walk, but I have seen marriages become stronger after infidelity than they were before.

How to work to heal your relationship

The shock of discovering infidelity may cause you to feel lost, confused, and alone. You may want to talk to someone, but sometimes people really cannot be trusted with this information – they won’t understand your complex emotions and will offer advice or opinions that may not help you and may actually hurt your chances of recovery.

That said, keeping your discovery to yourself may increase your feelings of loneliness, pain, and isolation. You need someone trustworthy in whom you can confide your feelings. Some people have a close friend or relative who can provide unconditional love, an ear to listen, and a heart to not judge, but unfortunately, some people do not. Whether you have that special person or not, a marriage counselor can be just the right person to provide this support, while also having the training, experience, and expertise to guide you and your spouse through the recovery process.

As a psychotherapist in New York City, I help couples through difficult times in their lives, such as infertility or infant loss, troubled marriages, and infidelity. Couples heal best when they have someone with experience to guide them through the difficult conversations that must be had. My orientation is in psychodynamics and cognitive behavioral therapy, in which I guide couples, both individually and together, to find the underlying causes of the issues that may have led to the betrayal and through the steps to recovery. 

If you are willing to forgive, and if your spouse is ready to recommit to the marriage, find a marriage counselor in your area who has experience with helping couples recover from betrayal. Interview the counselor first. It’s critical that you can relate to him or her and trust their approach to marriage therapy. If you are in the NYC area, give me a call. I’d be happy to talk to you about how I can help.

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