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  • Affairs & Infidelity Recovery

    The discovery of an affair is a devastating and heartbreaking experience in a relationship. Infidelity causes a deep betrayal tearing the foundation of trust in the relationship and marriage. It is often shocking to the betrayed partner and can leave the individual feeling alone, blindsided, confused, and devastated.

    While the discovery of an affair is damaging and traumatizing, there is the hope of recovery. A couple does not necessarily have to resort to a break-up or divorce. Couples often are challenged with overwhelming feelings of anger, hopelessness, despair, and sadness. If they remain stuck in this place, it may lead to a negative cycle of bitterness and resentment.

    Couples therapy offers hope for an opportunity for healing, forgiveness, and growth leading to positive change if partners are willing to engage in the process. The partner who had an affair must end contact with the affair partner to rebuild and repair trust. We can navigate the road on this journey together to guide you into a meaningful, satisfying and joyful relationship.

     Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, world-renown relationship researchers, provide extensive evidence-based research in betrayal and affair recovery models for couples. Additionally, Esther Perel, a couple and relationship expert in affairs and infidelity, includes information on intimacy and sexuality. After conducting a couples’ assessment, I provide a treatment plan and techniques to meet your goals. Emotionally Focused Therapy offers to understand the couple’s dance of pursuer and withdrawer, processing and uncovering deep feelings, providing insight and stability in the relationship.

    Ambivalence exploration helps individuals unsure of whether to remain in the relationship process their emotions and the benefits and risks of their decision. Couples therapy is helpful to those who want to commit to their relationship goals in reconnecting, repairing, rebuilding trust, healing, setting healthy boundaries, and strengthening their relationship. 

    What is Considered Infidelity?

    There is a wide variety of what exactly counts as cheating in a relationship or marriage. One partner may view cybersex and pornography as infidelity, while the other partner may not. Some may view an emotional affair as harmless and may begin to invest their energy and time outside of their relationship. Others may only consider real sex outside of the marriage as a betrayal and may entertain others’ company, and may not view an emotional affair as infidelity.

    What Causes Infidelity?

    The research studies demonstrate that most adults have an expectation of monogamy in a romantic relationship and marriage. However, extramarital affairs are a result of several reasons for straying outside of a committed relationship. A stable relationship requires emotional and physical intimacy and a meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying relationship. The reasons that an individual may engage in an affair include the following:

    Ego Boost

    Lack of emotional intimacy

    As an ending of relationship or marriage

    Low Self-Confidence

    Sex Addiction

    Avoidance of issues

    Depression

    Several Types of Infidelity

    Sexual Affair

    A sexual affair involves a physical intimate sexual liaison, romantic or passionate attachment driven by desire between two individuals and without knowing the partner knowing of the affair. Boundaries in committed relationships dissolve when a partner steps outside of the committed relationship and marriage, establishing mutual agreements, limitations, and physical exclusivity rules. An individual becomes involved in a physical, sexual clandestine affair without emotional attachment outside of the committed relationship and marriage. A lustful passionate sexual affair is generally short-lived, with most lastly an average of six months. Nevertheless, there have been affairs that are secret and hidden and have lasted for years. Overall, most physical, sexual infidelities cannot sustain the level of attraction and excitement without an emotional connection and tend to fade away. The expectation of sexual exclusivity broken by the individual that strays outside of the marriage causes a deep sense of betrayal, loss, devastation, and trauma to their partner.

    Object Affair

    The individual’s attention is drawn away from the relationship and marriage and replaced by an outside activity, hobby, work, or interest. The individual rearranges their schedules and time making this their priority instead of their partner. “The Golf Widow” is an example where the partner is left alone for long periods while the individual spends their weekends enjoying golfing with their friends while neglecting their primary relationship. Individuals may become obsessed with their professional careers and spend most of their time focused on work while ignoring their partners and family. The excessive amount of energy, investment, time, and resources in pursuing these interests interferes with the relationship and marriage’s emotional and physical intimacy.

    Cybersex Affair

    A significant phenomenon on the Internet is online infidelity involving both an emotional and physical affair whereby the individual develops a connection known as cybersex or an online affair. It may begin as cyber flirting and escalate to an individual connecting to another in cyber sexual encounters through viewing pornography, live chat rooms, email, and sexting. The powerful attraction of the Internet and sexuality is powerful as it holds power to the relationship and marriage’s negative impact. These infidelities involve secrecy with the potential to take it to the next level and decide to meet in person bringing it from online internet infidelity to a physical affair. Cybersex can become an online sexual addiction with the individual spending more time on the computer than with their partner, destroying the relationship’s intimacy and trust. Often, cybersex is a symptom of problems, sexually compulsive behavior, and a lack of satisfaction.

    Emotional Affair

    Often this starts when the partner becomes emotionally attached and close to another individual other than their partner. It may begin as a friendship and evolve into a severe threat to the relationship. They become involved with an individual of the gender they are attracted to, harming the relationship. The individual may spend a significant amount of time flirting, connecting on the phone, social media, keeping the relationship a secret, and taking away time from their partner. The individual may share sensitive personal information regarding the couple’s love relationship and unfavorable comparisons between their partners and friends. An emotional betrayal is as challenging and devastating to heal from as a physical, sexual affair.

    Impact of Infidelity on Partner

    An affair’s betrayal contains adverse emotional, physical, and psychological effects affecting both partners in the relationship or marriage.

    Symptoms

    Shame 

    Anger

    Distress

    Anxiety & Panic Attacks

    Sleep Disturbance

    Self-Blame

    Overeating/Undereating

    Over Exercising

    Lower work performance

    High-risk behaviors

    Post-Traumatic-Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

    Increased Alcohol and Substance Use

    Low Self-Confidence & Self-Worth

    Depression and Sadness

    If you have experienced infidelity, it is essential that you heal, process, and grieve the loss as a betrayed partner. Couples therapy can help heal, recover, and grow in rebuilding the foundation of trust in your relationship or marriage. I offer an inclusive, safe, non-judgmental, and non-shaming environment to explore these feelings. I am here to provide compassion, empathy, and support to help guide you in the healing process to recover from the trauma of betrayal.

     

    References

    Gottman, J. M. (1994). What predicts divorce? The relationship between Marital processes and marital outcomes. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

     Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2012). What makes love last: How to build trust and avoid betrayal. New York: Simon and Schuster.

    Gottman, J. M. (2011). The science of trust: Emotional attunement for couples. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

    Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2008). Gottman method couple therapy. A. S.

    Gurman (Ed.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (pp. 138-164). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

    Gottman, J. M., Gottman, J. S., & DeClaire, J. (2006). 10 lessons to transform your marriage. New York: Crown Publishers.

    Gottman, J. S. (2004). Introduction: An abbreviated history and overview of Gottman method couples’ therapy. In J. S. Gottman (Ed.), The marriage clinic casebook (pp. 1-10). New York: W.W. Norton.

    Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. (2002). A two-factor model for predicting when a couple will divorce: Exploratory analyses using 14-year longitudinal data. Family Process, 41(1), 83-96. Connections with family, friends, and lovers. New York: Crown Publishers.

    Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Crown Publishers. 

    Perel, E. (2006). Mating in captivity: Reconciling the erotic + the domestic. New York: HarperCollins.

    Perel, E. (2017). The state of affairs: Rethinking infidelity.