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Navigating Relationship Infidelity: Dealing with Relationship Trouble and Rebuilding a Relationship

In my private practice, when I first talk with a couple struggling to survive relationship infidelity, I take them through an assessment. When I ask, ‘what were your expectations for marriage?’ clients generally say, “A companion,” “Someone to grow old with,” or “Someone to share my life with.” I have yet to hear a couple tell me explicitly, “I expected monogamy.”

According to a recent study from Good in Bed (www.goodinbed.com), ninety percent of respondents do expect monogamy defined as a relationship in which two partners are romantically and sexually exclusive (Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/08/22/startling-infidelity-numbers-does-happily-ever-after-exist/#ixzz24lYzgmGB). In fact, only thirteen percent of their respondents stated they had actually negotiated monogamy with their partner.

So why does this sort of relationship trouble happen? In my practice most unfaithful clients imply they were not getting their needs met by their partner. My clients represent the small slice of infidelity casualties seeking help through therapy, however, so I’m not surprised respondents from the survey indicated infidelity happens due to curiosity, lack of sexual novelty, and boredom.

As a therapist who deals mainly with couples struggling with infidelity I am not shocked by these statistics or by the reasons. In fact, after I educate a couple that no matter what the non-cheating spouse did or did not do he/she did not make the cheating partner have the affair, I help the couple unpack or ‘deconstruct’ the assumptions they have about their relationship. These can include assumptions about monogamy, sex, parenting, work, and relationships with friends and extended family. Once couples are able to see why they define their relationship a certain way I can help them ‘reconstruct’ it into something they can both enjoy.

For the fifty percent of survey respondents who did not end their relationship due to infidelity, there is hope. Intentionally rebuilding a relationship by deconstructing and reconstructing with the help of a therapist can lead to the relationship they always wanted.

Dr. Kate Walker, Ph.D., LPC, LMFT  has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

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