Infidelity. In our culture, is often viewed as a severe breakdown within a marriage or relationship, and couldn't possibly happen to you. It happens to “those couples over there” I mean, sure, your marriage has ups and downs, but your partner couldn't, no wouldn't, do that to you. We all live within this bubble of thinking, a bubble that protects us from knowing that anything is possible given the right circumstance.

In 2014, The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that 41% of couples sampled, admitted to one or both spouses having had either an emotional or physical affair. What happens when you find out that infidelity did indeed happen to you? That you are actually “That couple over there”? 

The initial shock of the betrayal can cause a great degree of emotional variance. In a moment, everything comes to a screeching halt, and you can be left trying to search for something to hang to as the emotional earthquake begins to rattle your world.

Some people experience:

  • Numbness
  • Denial
  • Rage
  • Debilitating sadness and grief
  • A feeling of incredible loss of everything you knew to be true.
  • Hopelessness
  • A desire for revenge

You may find yourself asking questions similar to these:

  • How did this happen to us? How did we get here?
  • What am I going to do? If my marriage ends, can I survive financially?
  • What about the children?
  • Does my spouse love the person with whom they had their affair? Does my spouse want to leave?
  • What else has my spouse lied about? Do I even know him/her?
  • Should I leave? Should I stay?

Once the truth is out, and you try to pick up the pieces of your seemingly shattered world and make sense of “How could this happen to me?”, you also come up against society’s judgments placed upon you and your partner. Everyone knows what they would do in this situation, or at least they think they do. “If I were you, I would… (fill in the blank.) The truth is nobody knows how they will respond until they are in this situation themselves. When their marriage, their dreams, their children’s lives are all in limbo.

The fear of exposure and judgment by close friends and family may make you feel isolated during a time when emotional support is needed most. For many couples, marriage/couple's counseling is used as a safe space to talk through all of these rising emotions, questions, and fears. If you are currently experiencing the emotional throws of an extramarital affair, I want you to know that you are not alone. There is hope after an affair!

Relationship Strengthening

Joint fun activities increase intimacy

Joint fun activities increase intimacy

Everyone’s relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. But there are some things that good relationships have in common. Knowing the basic principles of healthy relationships helps keep them meaningful, fulfilling and exciting in both happy times and sad:

What makes a healthy love relationship?

  • Staying involved with each other. Some relationships get stuck in peaceful coexistence, but without truly relating to each other and working together. While it may seem stable on the surface, lack of involvement and communication increases distance. When you need to talk about something important, the connection and understanding may no longer be there.
  • Getting through conflict. Some couples talk things out quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree. The key in a strong relationship, though, is not to be fearful of conflict. You need to be safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation, and be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation or insisting on being right.
  • Keeping outside relationships and interests alive. No one person can meet all of our needs, and expecting too much from someone can put a lot of unhealthy pressure on a relationship. Having friends and outside interests not only strengthens your social network, but brings new insights and stimulation to the relationship, too.
  • Communicating. Honest, direct communication is a key part of any relationship. When both people feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears, and desires, trust and bonds are strengthened. Nonverbal cues—body language like eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm—are critical to communication.