There’s no doubt that cheating is probably the most challenging issue to arise in a romantic relationship. Yet, it’s very common. Even though couples tend to believe that they and their partners are never going to face such issues, the truth is that almost anyone can face some degree of infidelity at some point in their lives.
Can you imagine that 75% of men and 68% of women admitted that they had “cheated” in some way in their relationship (Emotionally, Financially, or Physically)? Actually, that’s the result of a study conducted in 1999 at Ball State University (Wiederman & Hurd, 1999). Unfortunately, not much has changed since then, and the latest statistics also show that 18-20% of married couples in the US experience infidelity, and the majority of wives (79%) and husbands (62%) believe their spouses are involved in infidelity (physical relationships outside of the relationship).
But is there any hope of saving a monogamous relationship after infidelity? Maybe there is something couples can do instead of breaking up and dealing with the aftermath of trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression, etc.
In this article, we’ll explain how therapy can help you deal with infidelity and why couples counseling is essential for healthy communication.
Why Does Therapy Matter After Infidelity?
Discovering that your partner has cheated on you can result in various negative mental health problems. Usually, the immediate reaction after realizing your partner’s infidelity is a combination of shock, stress, anger, anxiety, and hopelessness. In any case, people often find it difficult to process the knowledge of an affair and continue functioning optimally in their daily lives. As a result, people often choose to speak to a professional counselor or therapist and express their feelings in a safe space.
It goes without saying that each individual is different, which is why everyone requires a personalized approach when it comes to processing their feelings about infidelity. While some people don’t even consider saving a relationship and instead look for strength to overcome a breakup, others want to explore ways in which they can save their relationship. Regardless of your purpose and way of coping with cheating, therapy can help you understand whether you want to try and repair or go your own way.
As studies have shown, couples therapy is an effective way to promote recovery from a recently disclosed affair (Kröger et al., 2012). The reason is that therapists can help you discover the root causes of infidelity in your relationship and learn how to communicate with your partner after the incident. Consequently and possibly eventually, you may find ways to reignite intimacy and rebuild trust in your relationship together with your partner.
How Can Couples Counseling Help with Infidelity?
Reaching out to counselors and therapists is a useful and natural reaction for people who have experienced infidelity. However, it’s important to understand that in the case of relationship problems, receiving couples therapy or a combination of couples therapy and individual therapy is usually more efficient than individual therapy alone.
According to the latest studies, couples counseling is an effective means of treatment for couples who experience issues in their relationship (Hewison et al., 2016). Other studies also prove the efficacy of couple therapy in improving communication patterns between spouses (Baucom & Crenshaw, 2019).
But how can couples counseling help you deal with infidelity?
Generally, there are so many positive outcomes to receiving couples counseling, even when you and your partner don’t have any issues in the relationship. But if you want to find hope in a relationship after infidelity and rebuild trust, getting professional help might be crucial. The reason is that accepting the fact that your partner has cheated on you requires great emotional effort, which might lead to other serious adverse effects on your mental health. In other cases, the therapist may help you be able to split up in a way that is less destructive than the typical intense arguments or an extreme “cut-off” date.
Here are some of the most important benefits of a couple’s counseling after infidelity:
- Counselors will help you identify why infidelity happens in your relationship and if there are any underlying causes for such behavior.
- You and your partner will communicate with each other in a safe space and understand how each of you feels about the situation.
- You’ll develop a plan to see if your relationship can still work after the infidelity.
- With the help of a counselor, you’ll try to unlock the factors that are slowing down your present progress.
- You’ll try to restore intimacy and past emotional connections with your partner.
- You’ll learn adaptive ways to avoid infidelity in the future.
- You’ll have an opportunity to express empathy towards your partner and show you’re willing to work on the problem.
- You’ll learn how to rebuild trust together.
- Or you and your partner can navigate your separation in a way that is less damaging than doing it on your own.
What Should You Expect?
If you are thinking about receiving couple’s therapy at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, you should know that our trained counselors will develop an individual plan of treatment based on the unique circumstances of a couple.
Nevertheless, regardless of your situation, counselors will offer a safe space for each individual where they can share their emotions. They’ll try to build rapport and help clients understand they can openly share their thoughts with counselors as they’re going to be heard and accepted as they are (without judgments).
Whether you’re the person who cheated on your partner or a person who’s been cheated on, you can feel certain that your counselor will not judge anyone because of their infidelity. Instead, together they’ll try to identify the reasons for such behavior and try to find functional solutions to rebuild trust and save the relationship. However, both partners need to be willing to open up and work together to achieve positive outcomes while receiving treatment. Couples counselors understand that the goal is not always to repair the relationship, but to be able to communicate effectively as the relationship changes, evolves, or ends.
In the process of couples counseling, you should expect the following:
- To be working on your communication patterns and skills
- To be learning adaptive ways to resolve relationship conflicts
- Dealing with the trauma caused by the infidelity
- Working on your negative emotions after infidelity
- Understanding each other’s perspectives and requirements for a relationship
Tips for Healthy Communication After Infidelity
If you’ve decided to restore the relationship after experiencing infidelity, here are some tips that can help you develop healthy communication patterns with your spouse after being cheated on:
- Make sure the affair is over – In order to move on and start honest communication with your partner, you should be certain that the affair is over. So, make sure the infidelity is over, and your partner is ready to work on rebuilding your relationship.
- Find out what’s missing in your relationship – Instead of blaming your partner, address the problems that led them to infidelity. Try to find ways to work on these problems and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
- Share your perspective with your partner – After infidelity, it’s important for both partners to talk about what they learned from the affair. Share your sincere opinions about the incident and try to be as honest as possible to avoid future communication problems.
- Discuss your future sexual preferences – Accept the fact that after infidelity, some of the typical sexual behaviors between partners might change. Communicate about your preferences and try to decide what’s best for your relationship.
Keep in mind that recovery after an affair might be a long and difficult process, but it’s possible with enough effort and willingness. It might be an especially lengthy journey if you and your partner are planning to rebuild the relationship.
However, receiving professional help from our experienced couples counselors at Health for Life Counseling in Grand Rapids, MI, and Ada, MI, can help you address all the issues and find efficient ways to continue relationships after infidelity. So, reach out to our counselors in the West Michigan area or talk to them online whenever you need help to work on your relationship problems and learn how to overcome infidelity.