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Posts Tagged ‘Marriage Counseling Houston’

After an Affair: Affair Recovery for Couples After Infidelity has Occurred

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The tough work after an affair starts with the revelation. Once both the partners are aware of the infidelity and the choice is made to stay married then it’s time to dive into the recovery process. In my experience helping people survive an affair I’ve been taught there’s almost no bounds to the desire to try to save the marriage. My job is to help couples divide the work and work smarter.

The partner who had the affair must work on humility. Frequently I call this staying low. Humility means there’s never any push back when the betrayed partner makes a request never any editing when replying to a direct inquiry and never any exhibiting hostility when responding to the deceived partner’s hostility.

Humility can be very tough for the partner who had the affair for a few reasons. First and foremost she most likely has anger she never dealt with that let her excuse or rationalize her affair. She may feel like she isn’t permitted to exhibit her unmet needs in the restoration process and so the process of stuffing the emotion may begin all over again leading to bitterness and possibly acting out.

The partner who was deceived has very well the hardest task of all in counseling. He must choose to offer forgiveness after infidelity has happened. If recovering couples decide they do not want counseling forgiveness may never be addressed or it may be ignored in favor of punishment. In treatment the marriage counselor helps the deceived partner release the frustration which leaves room for forgiving if he decides. The counselor also helps the deceived partner understand that forgiveness is not for the partner who had the affair it is for him and his well-being.

Working diligently during affair recovery isn’t enough. Both partners must divide the work and focus their energy on working smart. The result will be contented individuals and a marriage on its way to recovery.

Managing Anger during Infidelity Recovery: Coping with Anger and Anger Outbursts

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

When couples struggle to survive an affair, they may select treatment as a choice. Initially there is relief because they feel just like the specialist understands their heartache and can sincerely assist them. What may very well surprise them nonetheless, is the sensation that they’re moving two steps forward and one step back.

Leaving a session may make them feel as though they have the tools and are headed straight for success, only to be sidelined for days by unexpected emotional turmoil. This phenomenon has been called a roller coaster, but might be more accurately described as a dance with anger. When the partners arrive for treatment, what they might not get is that three people actually show up for the appointment. Just two wear skin, but the third is just as real and influential: anger.

Analysts are only now spotting the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, including anger, which the betrayed better half experiences following the discovery of an affair. The wrath could be displayed through anger outbursts or concealed away, but it is almost always at work impacting the direction therapy will take. Will the specialist help the partners talk about the factors that made the marriage ready for the affair, or will the focus be on the stress experienced by the deceived partner? Anger will decide.

The betraying spouse may be unable to identify her very own anger in the primary sessions as she may be working awfully tough to continue handling her wrath and not further offend the partner she betrayed. By ignoring her anger however, she is not coping with anger. In ignoring anger, she ignores the frustration, discontent, and antagonism that led to her to justifying, minimizing, and executing a successful affair. If the consultant fails to recognize her outrage in session, he may leave her in the same emotionally charged situation.

In infidelity recovery, angriness must be identified and met head on by all participators in therapy. Ignoring angriness doesn’t make it go away; it only makes it a much more powerful dance partner.

Affair Recovery: How to Recover After an Affair

Monday, January 7th, 2013

In my years counseling, I have worked with several couples through the tragedy of sexual, emotional, and now the common financial cheating. I have seen some amazing recoveries. Couples who recover use affair recovery as an opportunity to create the best marriage they presumably can. The following is a summary of some “lessons learned” by couples have experienced after an affair (the pronouns “he” and “she” are swapped for simplicity).

First, sexual attraction and desire are normal, whereas acting on that behavior is where trouble starts. Accept the incontrovertible fact that you and your partner could be interested in people during your marriage, and target your energy on what is satisfactory to get on with next.

Second, life brings enticement and we really need to have plans to nip it in the bud if and when it strikes. Ask, “If my better half was feeling interested in somebody outside the relationship, could she trust me to handle those feelings and help her?” If the answer’s no, the plan should ideally include allowing anyone at any time to talk about feelings with a therapist or a reliable advisor.

3rd, take resposibility for your love language! Are you attracted to a certain appearance? Does the ability to make funny banter get your pulse racing? Does a particular talent or pursuit make your knees weak? Listen to these triggers, and ensure you don’t hire, go to lunch with alone, work out at the gymnasium, or Facebook with anyone who speaks your love language.

4th, Don’t put down or make excuses for your struggling spouse. Affairs require logistical back-flips and mental moral gymnastics that would put Cirque de Soleil to embarrassment. If you have the time to cheat, you have the time to prevent it. Eventually, if you have enough time to cheat, you have sufficient time to recover. Telling your other half you don’t have time for a wedding recovery activity like marriage advice, a church wedding retreat, or a once-per-week check-in breakfast with a trainer is a cop-out. The time after infidelity can seem just like predicting a cliff-dive; be brave and take the plunge not only for you but for your spouse.

The Very Best You

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Everyone has buddies and relatives whom we love. Not only do we care deeply about them, we think a lot about what we will be able to give them. These emotions and thoughts are crucial! There’s a point, nevertheless, when giving might be negative.

The best thing you can give your loved ones is the very best you. What does that suggest? It means that you learn about yourself, how you are feeling in different situations, how your family of origin affected you for good (or not so good), how you deal with conflict, and what your wishes are. When you find out about yourself you begin to change. You can discover you are becoming as important as your mother or father. Maybe you never learned to request what you need and now you’re getting depressed due to resentment. You might even discover your intense wrath is a cover-up for your hurt. The result is that you may be good at going through the motions of giving, but the internal attitude is not so charitable because it consequently diminishes the value of your good works, thus leaving you feeling sad and alone inside. But it does not have to stay that way.

Consider Wayne* and Sandy*. Wayne and Sandy came to see me because Sandy was depressed and Wayne didn’t think he could handle it any more. As we conversed, Sandy discovered that in 27 years of marriage, she never asked for what she needed. She thought that her role as wife and mom was to only do for others!

Wayne spotted that, while he was fond of having Sandy take care of him and the children, he had become self-absorbed and disconnected from Sandy. As they gained understanding of themselves and one another, Sandy started listening to her feelings and wishes and Wayne started listening and responding. Sandy’s depression lifted and Wayne found out he was married to an interesting woman!

This is what I mean by becoming the very best you. Start today: invest in yourself, learn to love yourself, and begin making the changes you need so you can love yourself more. When you learn to love yourself more and love yourself first, everything falls into place. So the gift you can give is the gift of loving yourself. Everybody will be happy with that as a gift!


* Wayne and Sandy are pseudonyms and represent a host of couples who have received solutions in their marriage for matters surrounding this kind of issue.

Sue Watkins is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Sue can be found at


How to Define Betrayal

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Imagine this:

An individual walks toward a park filled with family and friends. From a safe distance and without warning, he takes a grenade out of his pocket, pulls the pin, and tosses it into the crowd. The explosion is devastating. He rushes to his car, pulls out a paramedic’s uniform, and rushes back to the scene where he earnestly tries to administer first aid. He is shocked when his loved ones react with anger and confusion at his attempts to comfort and heal their pain.

If something like this really happened it would make the headlines, right? In reality, it happens every day but it remains a secret, it is confined to private homes, or it is exposed in the offices of marriage counselors. The scenario describes  the confusion and pain of infidelity, and implies the difficult, betrayed meaning for the spouse.

As a marriage counselor specializing in infidelity I try to help recovering couples understand the confusion behind this cycle and how to define betrayal. We know the pain experienced by the betrayed can be similar to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder experienced by soldiers wounded in battle. The injured spouse may experience anxiety and depression, insomnia and intrusive thoughts, hyper-vigilance and an inability to maintain daily activities.

As the betrayer rushes in to comfort the damage he has caused, his partner vacillates between wanting intense closeness and insisting he get away or leave the home. Couples in this stage may actually experience great sex, intimate conversations, and open emotional expression. Just as quickly, however, their closeness can turn to confusion, anger, and even violence because of the blurred lines between trust and betrayal. This initial roller coaster is normal but it may be difficult for family and friends to be supportive (remember they were part of the collateral damage too).

Couples struggling to find equilibrium may discover they need the help of a professional who understands the cycle of infidelity recovery and who can offer the hope the couple needs.

Dr. Kate Walker, Ph.D. is the Owner and CEO of© and the non-profit counseling center Ann’s Place. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor.

Understanding Infidelity: a Sexual Affair, an Emotional Affair, an Affair Online

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

When counseling couples who are trying to survive infidelity, one of the first tasks for the therapist helping the couple through affair recovery is to help the couple define what exactly happened, and what is meant by uttering the word, “affair?”

Was it an affair if the offending partner only had sex with the paramour one time and there are no lingering affectionate feelings?

Was it an affair if the offending partner shared intimate details about the relationship, kept meetings and communications a secret from the non-offending partner, but never had sex (usually coined as an emotional affair)?

Was it an affair online, where the offending partner never actually met the paramour face to face? Affairs are the cause of anywhere between 50% and 60% of divorces yet a commonly accepted definition for the term “affair” is elusive.

Like a disease that can only be accurately diagnosed post mortem, one way to diagnose an affair is to examine the resulting damage. In almost all cases the non-offending partner reports feelings of betrayal, trauma, and insecurity. Diseases are common due to unprotected sex. Divorce can follow.

Another way to determine whether or not a relationship qualifies as an affair by definition is to determine the level of secrecy. Were instant messages from the paramour deleted? Were the passwords to Facebook and email accounts kept a secret from the non-offending partner? Were meetings with the paramour conveniently omitted when describing daily activities? If a relationship outside the committed relationship elicits overt lies or lies of omission, then with or without sex the relationship has the trappings of an affair.

A commonly accepted definition for infidelity is difficult because the feelings and post-discovery reactions are so personal. Regardless of the definition one assigns to an affair, if an outside relationship has the potential for trauma, disease, and emotional damage to the partner in the committed relationship, or, if lies are necessary to maintain it, it is probably wise to avoid it.

Infidelity, however defined, is a destructive force. Never the less, when faced with the reality of it, what is done is done. Yet affair recovery is possible if the couple is determined to build strong roads of trust and faithfulness once more. A licensed and certified therapist in marital counseling will be an invaluable assistant in the process.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of found in The Woodlands TX.  A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor, she is trained as a marriage and family expert. Dr. Walker specializes in couples and families, especially those struggling to survive addictions and infidelity.

Does Marriage Counseling Work?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

In our marriage counseling Houston area practice, the following is a generalized scenario our couples often articulate as a common experience that led them to marriage and family therapy:

Dirk finished the last of his paperwork when he heard Dee climb into bed and switch off the light. “Oh great,” he thought. “I forgot how late it was and she’s going to be angry. Again.” He pushed his chair back from his desk and headed toward their bedroom.

Honey?” he asked, realizing it was probably too late but he should try anyway, “you asleep yet?”

“Let’s see,” Dee began, her stomach already aching from the knots twisting away at her insides, “I’ve managed two carpools today, three doctor’s appointments, and cooked dinner for five, so I’m a little tired. Why? Do you need something?”

“No, no. Just hoping you missed me.” Dirk feared he was not hiding his simmering anger very well. Lately Dee had been doing everything for everyone. Everyone except him of course.

“Miss you?” Dee shot out from under the covers and switched on the light. “I never even see you anymore! The kids live for the weekends with you, but I don’t even have that!”

Dick thought, “Here we go with the ‘you work too much,’ and ‘you never have time for me.’ Well what was he supposed to do? Let them all starve? He was tired and these arguments never ended up anywhere anyway. Angrily he shut the door and went back to his office and got back on his computer.

What can this couple do to save their marriage? Their family?  Is this a situation that calls for this couple to consider involvement into marriage and family counseling programs, and really, does marriage counseling work?

Marriage and family therapy programs are core mental health specialization programs. Marriage and family therapists provide couples and families with the help they need to navigate difficult life cycle stages and make positive changes to the way they communicate with one another. If therapy is a good fit for you, schedule an initial appointment. With persistence and help from your therapist you may see the changes you have been waiting for.

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