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Archive for September, 2015

Infidelity: A Blueprint for Recovery Part 1 – The Why

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

So what exactly is a blueprint for recovery when it comes to betrayal, infidelity, and cheating?

It might help to look at traditional marriage counseling and make a comparison. Traditional marriage counseling, when infidelity is not involved, means the therapist asks questions about strengths, weaknesses, recurring arguments, each individual’s perception of the problem, what does ‘better’ look like, etc.

In affair-recovery counseling the therapist asks the same questions, but he is mindful of one critical issue: no matter how the couple answers the questions, he cannot draw the conclusion that the non-betraying spouse caused the betrayal. How do we know this, you ask? Because human behavior is complex and we can never establish cause and effect relationships. I’ll give you my bank robber example.

Let’s say you line up five hungry people. Four of those people decide to apply for a job, go to work, get paid, and buy food. The fifth person robs a bank. Did hunger cause the fifth person to rob the bank? Of course not. Robbing the bank was a choice. A blueprint for recovery acknowledges there may be problems in the marriage, but problems can never cause a betraying spouse to act unfaithfully.

At Achievebalance and Ann’s Place we take a lot of time to train our Licensed Professionals and our Resident interns to work with couples trying to survive infidelity. Many times, therapists need to work through their own issues about cheating and betrayal so they don’t lay their faulty beliefs about the ‘why’ on the couple they are trying to help. If you are a betrayed partner and a friend, family member, or therapist is trying to tell you that something you did or did not do caused your partner to cheat, just walk away. Quickly.

When a spouse discovers his partner’s infidelity he experiences emotions like the grief one experiences when learning about the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one. The shock is so intense research has compared it to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A blueprint for affair recovery accommodates those symptoms and describes step-by-step how the betraying partner can earn her partner’s trust again.

Next time:

Infidelity: A Blueprint for Recovery

Part 2: Grief, trauma, and triggers. Why does it take so long to heal?


You Found an Affair, Now What?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Maybe you were looking through your husband’s phone and you accidentally came upon an undeleted text. Perhaps you were already suspicious and you were intentionally accessing your wife’s facebook account. Whatever your motives were, what you found is unmistakable evidence your spouse is having an affair. Now what?

First, don’t get hung up on definitions. An affair is a betrayal. My favorite definition of betrayal is: to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling; to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to; or to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence. This can cover everything from flirtations on Facebook to one night stands. In fact, we are finding that financial infidelity is outpacing sexual and emotional affairs when it comes to leading causes of divorce. Bottom line, if you feel that what you discovered meets the criteria for a betrayal, then you get to define it as an affair.

Next, take some time. An affair does not mean your marriage has to end in divorce. What you feel right now is grief. This grief can feel as sharp as grief you would feel if you lost a loved one. You will go through the stages of grief: shock, anger, denial, bargaining, depression/sadness, and acceptance. If your discovery is recent, you may be in shock. In seconds you could feel angry, then sad. Making major decisions right now is probably not a good idea so call a friend, go on a walk, take the weekend and go away for awhile but don’t pull the plug on your marriage.

Finally, after you have taken the time you need, decide if you want help. An affair is survivable. There are lots of great books including Harley’s “Surviving an Affair,” and MacDonald’s “How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair,” that can guide your next steps. If you choose to get professional help you must find someone who understands the process of recovery. Affair Recovery must come before ‘marriage counseling’ and any therapist who confuses the two may damage things further.

One last thing: an affair is not your fault. Every married person feels lonely, abandoned, frustrated, or angry at some point, but not everyone steps out of the marriage vows and betrays a spouse. An affair is a choice just like robbing a bank.

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