How Couples Therapy Helps Heal Relationships After Cheating
Have you recently cheated on your spouse and currently experience deep remorse? Did you know that it can be traumatizing for both the partner who was cheated on as well as the partner who cheated?
As a couples therapist, I look at everything (including affairs) as part of a whole system. Cheating is rarely an isolated incident. There are important things that have happened before, during, and after an affair such as immense loneliness experienced by a partner, trauma that may have occurred, or an introduction of a family member. Sometimes couples simply need to discuss with each other, in a nonjudgmental place, their feelings about the affair in order to emotionally heal and grow together.
This sort of healing can take time, but is necessary to flourish together. This can be a painful time for both partners. This can make the relationship forever changed.
In the age of dating apps and “sexting”, cheating has become quite the reality in marriages as it is available at everyone’s fingertips. When treating couples who have dealt with affairs, I make sure to remain neutral and nonjudgmental and allow both partners to express how they feel and communicate to each other. This helps people in their relationship with trust, understanding, mutual support and communication.
Therapy for couples who have experienced an affair is an ongoing process and can feel like some of the hardest work that they will do. However, statistics show that receiving couples therapy in this stressful period can help the relationship in the long run.
There are common challenges in couples therapy, which typically occur in the beginning. At this point, the couple is still experiencing the trauma after the affair. During this time, it is normal for partners to be distrustful. This can also make it so couples avoid communication. Others will engage in angry communication. An important part of couples therapy is having the couple work toward turning to each other and communicating with lowered defenses and a softened start-up. These essential skills in a marriage can make the pain of an affair feel less intense over time and increase the level of trust in both partners.
If you have been cheated on, it is often difficult to fully express your hurt, despair, anger, frustration in a healthy way toward your partner. And this is absolutely normal. With time, and often assistance, couples therapy may be able to help.