Infidelity causes pain and turmoil in a marriage. The intense emotional impact of the betrayal creates significant problems for most couples. While infidelity causes devastating emotional pain, an affair doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. With time to heal and a mutual goal of rebuilding your relationship, many couples emerge from infidelity with a stronger and more honest marriage than before.
This is what most people think of when they think about cheating or having an affair. Sometimes with casual sex or a one-night stand, there is sex without an emotional connection. However, in an ongoing affair there is both physical and emotional intimacy. Usually a romantic bond develops and there is often talk between the affair partners about leaving their spouses and possibly getting married. A strong romantic connection coupled with a sexual relationship can be the most devastating when the faithful spouse discovers the affair.
These relationships often start as friends or acquaintances and then slowly proceed into an emotional affair. There is usually a strong sexual attraction to this person, the relationship is kept secret, and a stronger connection is felt to the affair partner than to the spouse. An emotional affair often precedes sexual infidelity but not always. Even without the physical component, these types of affairs can be just as difficult to recover from as a sexual affair.
People are spending more and more of their time at work and away from the family. The office is one of the places where men and women come in contact with each other and it is an environment where simple collegial relationships can turn into something more. Workplace affairs can start close to home or on the road. The office can provide temporary cover for contact with someone of the opposite sex since there is a need to communicate with coworkers. These relationships can be difficult to stop since job requirements often require meeting with the affair partner during the workday.
Cyberspace is another place that makes it easier to cheat. Most of us have multiple internet connections on our phones, laptops, tablets. Since most of these devices are personal, it gives the advantage of anonymity. With the internet, there are so many options for meeting potential affair partners: Facebook, chat rooms, Craigslist, Ashley Madison, Pinterest, etc. The list is endless. Internet affairs can be confined to email or chatting, but can escalate to sexting or virtual sex via a webcam.
Betrayal is a breach of trust. When your spouse has betrayed you your world shatters. The person you once believed in has deceived you. You feel alone and abandoned. The vows and commitments you made to one another become meaningless. You start to question everything about your spouse and your entire marriage. What was real and what was not?
You will feel the entire gamut of emotions: disbelief, the breech of trust, anger, disgust, humiliation and feeling unloved are just some of the feelings you will experience. While forgiveness is part of the healing process, usually people focus on forgiveness too soon. Healing from the pain of the lies and deception is a long and difficult process and focusing on forgiveness too soon is counterproductive and can distract you from the hard work that you and your spouse need to do.
Most couples have a difficult time getting though an affair without help. Many people think the unfaithful partner can apologize, be forgiven, and the couple can move on. But life is seldom this simple. Most people need to process the hurt, anger, and shattered trust with their partner and usually they need a neutral third party to assist in the healing process. Often the unfaithful partner is genuinely remorseful and wants to move on while the betrayed partner is just starting to deal with the emotional consequences of the betrayal. The strain working through these complex issues can be almost impossible to deal with on your own. The pain of the affair is usually layered on top of an already troubled marriage. Eventually, you and your spouse must address the problems in the marriage that led to the affair.
Fortunately, marriage counseling offers a safe space for both partners to express their thoughts and feelings with the help of a trained professional. Some couples come into the process knowing that they want to work things out and move forward. Others are not so sure, and the process often involves making painful and difficult choices. Divorce is not always the best solution and your marriage may in fact emerge stronger and more intimate than ever. Call with any questions you might have or to set up your initial consultation.