Stop: If you are in an Ashley Madison Crisis, we have compiled some critical adivce on moving forward.
If you are here because you recently found out your spouse is having an affair, or even if you found out someone you know has been cheating (for example, you found your spouse on the Ashley Madison hack), the first step is to pause, collect yourself, and mentally prepare to get professional help from a counselor. Navigating this alone is not the best route. A support group or advice from a friend is also not the best route and can lead to toxic advice that is not neutral nor has your best interests at stake. Only a trained therapist is most qualified to help you chart the best course for what happens next. (You can use this website to find a relationship therapist near you who will be able to help you).
Marriage After The Affair.
In simple terms, adultery, also known as cheating, infidelity, or having an affair, is the act of being sexually unfaithful in marriage. This is not to ignore cases of emotional unfaithfulness (such as spouses who engage in extramarital "online" affairs) which can have similar devastating effects as the real thing. The first thing to know is that adultery does not simply happen "out of the blue", although it may seem that way to the betrayed spouse. And if you just arrived here after "finding out", then right now you may feel in a state of shock.
Extra-marital affairs are often the culmination of a long trail of unresolved issues. Similar to an iceberg, the surface above the water is outward and visible, but underneath, there is much more than what is visible to the outside. While an affair is destructive to a relationship, it is a symptom of something much deeper that has been growing for much longer, signifying the end of a painful rope. Counseling at this stage is vital if the relationship is going to be saved. And yes, the good news is that even after something so tragic as infidelity, complete restoration is still possible. We urge you to use our site to find a professional marriage counselor as soon as possible.
My Husband or Wife Had An Affair
You are not alone. Adultery is widespread. It affects one in every 2.7 couples. And with the release of Ashley Madison data, over 30 million accounts were made public demonstrating a vast and widespread problem. According to a published report in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, by the time we are 40, approximately 50 percent of all wives and 60 percent of all husbands, will have had an extramarital affair. Psychologists have estimated only 35 percent of these affected couples will stay together. This means that the majority of relationships that suffer an affair will end. Despite this gloomy prognosis, there is life after adultery. Studies show that couples choose to tough it out, and seek help such as marriage counseling, have the best chance of staying together. The hardest part of dealing with the sting of an affair is to look beyond the act itself, and dig deeper into the root causes. If all you can do is think about and look at the behavior, and neglect the underlying causes (for the one cheated on), or if you just want to dig in your heels and justify what you have done (for the cheater), then your relationship may not survive. But if you have the willingness to peer deeper, and both of you want to make this work, then there is real hope for you.
Why Did My Husband or Wife Cheat on Me?
When we walk down the aisle and pledge our undying love and devotion to our spouse, we make a moral and ethical contract to remain faithful. But often when we make these vows, life is good, we are happy, and things are the way they should be- atleast for the most part. We feel hopeful. Pheraps the relationship is still quite new. The relentless stresses of life have yet to take their toll. Then, about three to five years into the marriage something happens. The honeymoon is over, the bills are mounting, the job is more demanding then ever and child number two is on its way. We begin to ask ourselves, "What happened?" There is no doubt the marriage dynamics change over time; they have to in order to accommodate the natural progression of any relationship. The problem arises however, when we forget to adapt to these changes, more specifically, to each other’s needs as they relate to the changing relationship.
Contrary to what you may think, adultery is not merely about sex. In fact, sex is often a bonus to the affair. People cheat for varying reasons, but the most common reasons- probably the vast majority of reasons people have an affair is for emotional connectedness, the feeling of being wanted, needed, understood, important, and heard. They are feelings that are deeply lacking in the current relationship, which cause the cheater to obtain them elsewhere. The unloved and misunderstood wife, or the controlled and endlessly criticized husband- two very common sterotypes that are vulnerable to straying. To those on the receiving end however, adultery is a selfish betrayal of trust that brings with it devastating consequences.
Can a Marriage Survive An Affair?
The betrayal of adultery cuts much deeper than a simple broken vow. Some experts link the experience to that of physical and emotional abuse. Spouses who have been cheated on often suffer from anxiety, poor self-esteem, depression, humiliation, guilt, and a sense that somehow "it was their fault" or they "deserved it", especially if the cheating continues. The longer the infractions persist, the deeper the couple falls into a recurring cycle. In the case of adultery, most spouses are eventually able to come to terms with the fact that their spouse cheated, not being able to let go of the memory and fear that it may happen again however, is what destroys most marriages. Trust is the foundation of any relationship and once that foundation is destroyed, it is very hard to rebuild unless both parties are willing to surrender to the fact that in reality, they have no control over what the other may or may not do. This comes full circle to the issue of trust, whether it is in your partner, yourself or something bigger than both of you. Herein lays the problem. For most people, it is far easier to simply throw in the towel and walk away from even a long-term marriage than it is to surrender and truly trust again. And even then, you must make this decision for the right reasons. In order for the marriage to survive, both partners have to make personal changes to their way of thinking and being. But what many people in this situation do not realize, is that there is hope and life after adultery, and surprisingly, the potential to have a marriage that is even stronger than before. The cheater must come to a place of genuine repentence and humility. The person who was cheated on must let go of being a victim, forgive, and never use the affair as a tool for leverage in a future argument. Once an affair is forgiven, and dealt with, it should never be used as a weapon. To do so can put a relationship back in jeapordy. If you have been cheated on, and you are not yet at the place in your heart where you can truly forgive, then you should take more time, as relationship healing cannot take place until both people commit.
How Do I Move Forward After Adultery?
Moving past an affair is no easy task, but if both you and your partner are dedicated to working through the underlying issues through a competent counselor, the marriage has great hope for the future. Many marriages can overcome this highest form of betrayal and be even stronger than before, however, it requires a commitment from both spouses. The unfortunate truth, however, is that not all marriages will survive. Sometimes the cheater may leave altogether, or the betrayed spouse may terminate the marriage. Yet whether the betrayer or the betrayed, even if you decide to leave the marriage, you still need to deal with your own emotional scars so you don’t find yourself in a similar relationship. Values-Based counseling provides essential tools in the healing process. While adultery may be a life-altering experience, it doesn't have to define you or your future choices.
How Counselling Works for Situations With Adultery
Infidelity is not something that occurs in a vacuum. Counselling address the issues already in the marriage that led up to the affair. By the time infidelity occurs, there are many deep issues that have already been present for some time, and in order for healing to come, these issues must be addressed. Adultery is the culmination of a long trail of unresolved underlying issues; and while it is a serious problem in a relationship, it is not the root problem. Nor does it have to be the end of the relationship.
A Theravive counsellor for adultery looks to find those issues that brought the marriage to a place where an affair became an option. For couples to rebuild their marriage after adultery, counseling addresses the unmet needs and wants for both individuals. Getting past blame and hurt is a difficult, yet critical step in order for forgiveness and restoration to begin and is part of our values-based approach. We look at what is still working in the marriage and utilize these components to work towards that forgiveness and restoration in the marriage. While one person may commit the act of betrayal, adultery counseling is not about placing blame, but rather working towards restoration, forgiveness, and healing. Values-based counselling from a Theravive counsellor seeks to restore the marriage, if that is possible. However, we recognize that adultery creates such a volatile situation, that sometimes healing the marriage is not possible simply because one or both spouses have already made the decision to end the relationship. In those cases where restoration of the relationship is not possible, we commit ourselves to working with the individual to address feelings of hurt, guilt, insecurities, anxiety, loneliness, and other issues that result from the broken relationship.
By addressing these feelings, the individual has the opportunity to resolve these experiences and move forward and prevent this hurt from affecting and hindering future relationships. For couples who seek healing, we identify, sometimes with the use of assessments, what the primary needs and wants are for both husband and wife. We then look for ways to develop these in the relationship, providing couples with a fresh start towards a satisfying and rewarding marriage for life. Often, the individual who has been dealt the betrayal is not ready to make “a decision” so seeking help from a counselor for adultery works to identify and resolve emotions of helplessness, loss of control, and hurt to allow individuals to more clearly assess the situation and how to move forward. If the couple wants to work through the hurt and betrayal, counseling focuses on communication skills, rebuilding trust, and developing goals for the future to direct the couple providing hope for the future and restored love and intimacy in the marriage.
Counseling When Children Are Affected By Infidelity
If children are involved, we work with the parents to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship that provides for the ongoing developmental needs of the children to have loving and healthy relationships with both their parents. Children who experience the breaking of trust in their family also need the opportunity to voice their feelings. Confusion and self-blame are common reactions from children as they think “I could have been better then mom/dad would not have left”. While the family unit may not be restored, a child’s ability to learn to trust again and develop security in their situation is vital for future development and growth. Values-Based counselling addresses these issues, whether for the children, the individual, or the couple together.
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