Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity Starts with Seeking Professional Help

Love is one of the greatest things we get to experience in life. So if you break your trust with the person you love the most, how can you possibly go on together?

First, you don’t have to go through it alone.

When working with couples experiencing infidelity, we provide a listening ear and strive to uncover the unconscious drives that tell us “why” we do what we do.

At our practice, we are not rooting for you to stay together or break up. You won’t disappoint us with whatever decision you make. Our only goal is to get you back to living your most authentic life.

Getting Real Answers

Your first thought after being cheated on may simply be, “Why?”

Did you know that long-term relationships naturally change in ways that we can predict? In counseling, we can discuss the Developmental Model of couples therapy to help you understand what stage your relationship is in.

Perhaps one or both of you are in the Rapprochement stage, where couples tend to need more space from each other. Infidelity is an unhealthy way to adjust to this stage, but through couples counseling, we can identify where each partner is at in the model, as well as explore healthy ways to cope with each stage.

Identifying Unhealthy Habits

Couples who try therapy after an affair tend to display what is known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or key pain points that can destroy a partnership. They are:

Criticism – Verbally attacking another person’s character.

Contempt – Insulting or abusing someone from a place of moral superiority.

Defensiveness – Victimizing yourself to defend against a perceived attack and trade blame.

Stonewalling – Feeling overwhelmed by emotion and completely withdrawing from the conversation.

Healing Together

The good news is that each of these Horsemen has a solution.

For Criticism, we suggest using what’s called a Gentle Start-Up, or “complaining without the blame”. Talk about your concerns using “I” statements and communicate a positive need.

CRITICISM: “You never cook for me. You are so lazy.”

GENTLE START-UP: “I had a really hard day and could use some chill time. Would you help me out by cooking dinner tonight?”

For Contempt, we strive to Build a Culture of Appreciation. Think about what you love the most about your partner, then take the time to notice and express those things regularly.

CONTEMPT: “Thanks for leaving the garage door wide open again. Glad you care about my safety.”

CULTURE OF APPRECIATION: “I know how much you want to relax right after work, but could you please remember to close the garage door before you come in? I would really appreciate it.”

For Defensiveness, healing starts with the choice to Take Responsibility. Respect your partner’s viewpoint by apologizing for any harm you may have caused.

DEFENSIVENESS: “It is not my fault we missed the movie. You stopped at every yellow light on the way.”

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: “I am sorry that I was not ready when it was time to leave. I know how much you were looking forward to this movie. I can start getting ready earlier next time.”

For Stonewalling, we recommend Physiological Self-Soothing. This looks like taking a break to do something soothing and distracting. Then, when you’re ready, re-enter the conversation.

STONEWALLING: “I’m done with this conversation.”

PHYSIOLOGICAL SELF-SOOTHING: “This conversation is a lot for me right now, so let’s take a 20-minute break to breathe. I’ll be ready to talk again after that.”

Getting Started

Bouncing back from infidelity is a lengthy process that can take weeks, months, or years, depending on the couple. Although, most experts agree that positive change can occur within two years on average.

If your partnership has experienced infidelity and you are wondering what the next steps are, start counseling today and we can figure it out together.

The Immediate Aftermath of Infidelity Discovery

Aftermath of Infidelity and affairs

When you get cheated on by the one that you love, you’ll see the world in an entirely different light. When you are in love, everything may seem nice and dandy, but when you’ve been betrayed, your surroundings suddenly turn gloomy. You start to question if what you had was truly real or if you’re the only one who thought of it that way. You also begin to ask yourself if you’re enough, worthy, or valuable. And to the people around you, you may seem perfectly fine, but on the inside, you’re shattered into a million pieces.

The truth is, it’s not easy to be cheated on. Some people who vowed to stay single for life were once madly in love with someone who betrayed them. Their heartbreak may have been so brutal that they refused to go down the same path again. However, no matter how much people know about the devastating effects of infidelity and betrayal, it never stopped them from breaking their promises to their lovers.

 

What Pushes People to Cheat?

According to psychologists and relationship experts, there are various reasons why people cheat. In most cases, they were in love and emotionally attached to their respective partners, but that wasn’t enough for them to step on the break in the face of temptation. Sadly, after all, that has been said and done, their partners often end up being the most hurt. Even if they’re the ones who committed a mistake, the party cheated on suffers.

Some people cheat because they are put in a situation that made cheating seem okay. For example, a man fought with his girlfriend. Since they couldn’t settle the matter by talking it out, he went on a drinking spree with his buddies and partied to his heart’s content. When he was already so drunk, he seemingly ‘forgot’ that another woman was flirting with him, and he, in return, gave in to the temptation. The morning after, he realized the gravity of what he did as he started feeling guilty about what happened. Though the situation made it convenient for him to cheat, he still had a choice to say no.

Other people also cheat because of a lack of intimacy and passion in the relationship. A woman who is in a romantic relationship with a man for seven years finally tied the knot. After the marriage, the husband worked doubly hard to support his family. Unfortunately, because he now spends more time in the office, he seemed to have wholly alienated his wife. When she asks for a cuddle, he turns her down because, as he would put, his job completely wore him out.

As days passed by, the woman grew more distant until it didn’t matter to her if he showed care or not. One day, she met a young, passionate guy who made her feel wanted again. They had an affair, and she justifies her acts by saying that her husband wasn’t emotionally available for her.

Aside from these two motivations to cheat, others betray their partners because they hate being rejected or looked down upon, or they’re only bound by an obligation to stay together than by love. Regardless of the reason, it all boils down to this fact — they are dissatisfied with the relationship.

It may be a hard pill to swallow, but that’s the truth. If they’re happy and content with what they have, why would they go somewhere else to fill the void? If they’re satisfied with their partner and the state of their relationship, there won’t be a void that needs filling in the first place.

 

Is Saying Sorry Enough?

Even those who cheat on their partners know that an apology, no matter how sincere, won’t be enough for everyone to forget and move on. Besides, you only say sorry when you didn’t mean to hurt the person. You only ask for an apology if you didn’t know the suffering people would go through if they knew the truth. If you cheat, it’s not like you’re in a daze or went crazy for a moment. You’re fully conscious of the repercussions, yet you simply threw caution in the wind as you go on full ‘you only live once (YOLO)’ mode.

Cheating will always be a choice, never a mistake, so saying sorry is meaningless. You’re not sad because you hurt the person; you seem sorry because you got caught.

Unless it’s rape or coercion, no one can force you to hop on the bed and have intercourse with someone other than your husband or wife. No one can also force you to send sweet nothings to someone other than your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend. And most certainly, no one can force you to reply to text messages, chats, and invitations to hang out with someone other than the person you’re in an exclusive relationship with.

The point is, cheaters knowingly do these things, hoping that they won’t get caught to continue with the affair.

Though sorry isn’t enough, most people being cheated on are soft when it comes to their cheating partners. They may have been hurt and angry, but they’re still more than willing to work things out. And most of the time, they are even angrier towards the man or woman their partners had an affair with. In their disbelief that their partners are capable of cheating on them, they try to justify their actions by saying that if only the third party didn’t lure them, their partner wouldn’t have cheated.

When you recently found out that your husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend cheated on you, remember that it’s not your fault. You may be predisposed to think otherwise, but you did nothing wrong. It was your partner and his or her lover’s choice to betray you. And it’s not because you’re unattractive, unworthy, or lacking. They made a conscious effort to act on their urges and emotions because of their utter disregard of the consequences. They are cheaters by choice, period. You’re not the cause, so stop beating yourself out.

 

It’s Okay to Mourn

When you lose a lover due to infidelity, it’s normal to feel devastated about it. It’s also perfectly normal for you to think that everything seems surreal. And your family and friends may tell you that it’s okay, but there’s no comfort in their words. Sadly, you’ll have to go through these during or after a heartbreak. Some even experience an immense state of hopelessness and depression that they have a hard time functioning.

If you ever find yourself in these situations, know that you’re not alone. All your feelings are also valid. Don’t let anyone tell you what you ought to do or how you should cope up because it’s you who’s dealing with the problem. It’s also you who has been betrayed. So, if you’re mourning for a week, month, or year — so be it.

Take time to feel and process your emotions and anger so that you can move on without so much excess baggage. It will also help if you seek the help of therapists and counselors to help you address your thoughts and emotions.

 

Should you tell your kids about the affair?

The repercussions brought by infidelity multiply when kids are involved. When one of the parents cheated, they’re hurting not only their partner but also their kids. However, when the infidelity is exposed, the cheating parent feels ashamed to tell their kids about what they did.

Most parents, even the ones cheated on, often choose not to tell their children because they want to spare them from feelings of betrayal and hate. On the other hand, a few want to divulge their cheating partner’s wrongdoings to make them pay. While neither of these reactions is healthy, parents must know that children can sense when something at home is amiss.

Kids are naturally self-centric; that’s why they often assume that what happens is always their fault. Your children will most likely pick up the emotional pain and stress you’re feeling, and they’ll most likely know when something is not right. The sad news is unless you clarify with them that there’s something wrong, but it’s not their fault, they’ll continue feeling this way. These thoughts might even freely run in their minds:

  • Mom and dad are always angry and fighting. If only I were a good boy/girl, this wouldn’t happen.
  • Mom and dad no longer pay attention to me. I must have done something that made them mad.
  • If I would only be nicer and if I won’t complain about my chores, they might like me back.
  • If I stop making noise, mom and dad would be less mad at me.

Kids think this way and assume that they’re the reason for the family strife simply because they’re not doing anything. If parents fail to address this, the child will feel unworthy, wrong, and defective. As a result, their self-esteem and self-confidence will also plummet, thereby developing a negative and skewed self-image. It’s also possible that they’ll develop a sense of shame for who they are.

So, What Should You Say And Not Say to Your Kids About An Affair?

First and foremost, they don’t need to know the details of your sex life, most especially if it has gone awry. It’s safer to say that one of their parents crossed the relationship boundary that caused the other to be upset. They only need to confirm that indeed, there’s something wrong, but it isn’t their fault.

Remember that you can’t take back what you already said. So, make sure that you talk to your kids when you’re emotionally stable and calm. You might just say something that you’ll regret for the rest of your life.

If you have more than one child, speak to them together. And no matter how angry or hurt you are, put them first — at least when you explain to them the situation. Also, remember that pick the right words and make sure it’s age-appropriate.

 

How Can Counseling Help You Deal With The Aftermath Of An Affair?

If there’s one thing you should seriously consider doing after finding out that your partner cheated on you, that would be finding someone you trust that will listen. A trusted friend or a close family member could be that person. However, if you don’t have someone within your circle, it’s best to seek the help of a therapist or counselor that specializes in infidelity. The least you need to hear after infidelity is that you should have seen the red flags and that you should not have entered into a relationship with that cheating partner. It won’t also do good to hear people ‘I told you so.’

Aside from that, it won’t help if you get blamed for your choice of being with that person who betrayed your trust. It’s not the issue now, so that should be put on the shelf. There’s no point rubbing the hurt in and adding insult to injury. You need someone who won’t judge you and won’t make you even more messed up.

Counselors Will Listen Without Judgment

When you go through a betrayal, it’s normal to have so many things on your mind. You will question everything your partner did as you blame yourself for not noticing the signs of their infidelity. You may also think that they cheated because you’re lacking. If you dwell in these thoughts, they will surely consume you. You will only fall into a vicious cycle of self-pity and regret. However, if you let these thoughts out of your system, you can share your point of view with your listener, thereby easing the pain and torture you’re feeling.

And if your listener is a professional who is an expert in handling this kind of concern, they can process your thoughts and actions. Your counselor can help you reframe your mindset from being the pitiful victim to someone who can decide and take charge of the relationship. As Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke said, you ought to see with eyes unclouded by hate. With the help of a professional, you can achieve this emotional state.

Your counselor can explain to you the possible reasons why your lover cheated and also make you realize that it’s not your fault that they chose to be polygamous. Your counselor can also allow you to talk and talk until you dump all your negative and depressive thoughts, helping you find a new, fresh, and better perspective about yourself, your life, and your relationship.

Therapists Can Help You Process Your Own Issues

No matter how successful, attractive, or intelligent they are, some people always end up with a lover who doesn’t recognize their worth and continues to abuse them. They may have broken up with a past lover because that person cheated on them, and they thought that their new one wouldn’t do the same thing. However, later on, they found out that they are just entangled in the same toxic relationship cycle all over again.

By yourself, you may not be able to realize that you’re in the same kind of abusive relationship every single time because of your unresolved childhood issues and trauma. Or it could be because you grew up thinking that you don’t deserve to be loved perfectly and unconditionally. These thoughts may appear harmless, but they can mess your belief system and views. And you know what happens when these toxic beliefs stay in your system? You believe them as accurate. And you manifest them through your actions.

When you were young, your father or mother may have left you, and since then, you thought you’re not worthy of being loved. Because you were abandoned as a child, you believe that your lover will do the same thing. Even if you work hard to make yourself attractive, successful, and worthy to be loved, your belief system will sabotage you and lead you to dysfunctional and toxic relationships.

Your therapist can dig deeper into your subconscious to discover these unresolved issues. They can also lay these issues on the table to see how it hurts your present. After this, your therapist can also guide you on finally letting go of these thoughts and learning new, positive, and empowering beliefs. They will guide and coach you so the next time you enter a relationship, or when you start mending the old one, you won’t be carrying these damaging pieces of baggage anymore.

 

Takeaways

Cheating doesn’t only mean having sex with a person other than your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, or husband. If you’re attempting to do something you’re compelled to hide from your lover, then that could be considered cheating. When someone sends you an over-friendly message, and you’re obligated to keep it from your other half, there’s a considerable possibility that could lead to something more dangerous.

Quit playing with fire. Before entering into a serious relationship, both parties must realize their obligations towards each other. They must also be cautious of the feelings of their beloved that they should evade cheating on them. If you can’t be monogamous, at least keep yourself from entering into a committed relationship. If you’re not happy with your current relationship, better break up than cheat. You see, you won’t only be hurting your partner now, but you will also leave them with issues that they could be carrying for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, if you’re going through deep emotional turmoil due to a recently-discovered cheating incident, know that you’re not alone. You always have your family, friends, and other loved ones backing you up. And if they’re not enough, you can always seek the help of professional counselors and therapists. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re breaking down and needing emotional support. Speak to a counselor now and lighten your burden.

Why do people cheat?

By: Jeni Woodfin, LMFT

Recently, I was asked the question, directly, “Why do people cheat”?

Such a good question and so many answers. The question I hear from every single betrayed spouse I work with is the “Why?”

There are reasons, fairly well-understood reasons, and none of them bring comfort to the betrayed partner. But they are a good starting point when looking at what needs to be tweaked in the relationship and the betraying partner.

Some of the reasons I see are:

  1. The affair-involved spouse is looking for an exit to the relationship. Some people really struggle with ending relationships or feel they need someone to accompany them in the break-up process. We all have walls up to protect what we hold dear and the walls around that protect the relationship are down leaving room for an affair to bring comfort during a rough breakup.

  2. They want change in the relationship and have felt minimized, unheard, or have been too anxious/uncomfortable to ask for change so they, as I often refer to it, create an explosion that blows the relationship to bits (I don’t use the word bits). This is an unhealthy, messy way to begin the conversation about what they want different in the relationship.

  3. The connection of the relationship has been damaged or severed and the affair-involved partner is angry or resentful. Rather than continuing to try to repair the connection, they look for a separate, idealized connection.

  4. They are unhappy with who they are in the relationship and they find themselves having an affair and exploring new aspects to themselves. In the affair, they get to be sexually daring, bold, fun, young … And in the marriage, they get to be steady, reliable, predictable.

  5. There are also the affairs that stem from narcissistic traits, the “I want this so I deserve this” tendency. A bit of this trait is required for each type, but if there are repeated infractions over a long period of time, these traits typically play a larger part.

There are so many combinations of reasons, it’s very difficult to get to the bottom of the Why. It’s also an important piece to figure out if the couple would like to repair the relationship.

Recovery is an incredibly difficult process, but it is one that can be done successfully if both parties are willing to be open, vulnerable, and take risks.

If you’re asking the question, “Why did you cheat?”, it’s time to reach out. Figuring the answers out is a delicate process. Reach out now and let’s begin.

What Happens if You Stay After They’ve Cheated?

There are many different paths the betrayed partner can take.  In my experience, I see a few different outcomes for the betrayed spouse.  There are always outliers, but these are some common patterns.

First, occasionally is the spouse who stays in the marriage and also stays angry, resentful, and continues to punish their partner. This happens less often and the true outcome is two miserable people staying in a marriage out of fear or obligation.  These relationships can survive, but the betrayed partner may become highly controlling, short with their partner, and very unhappy.  

Or the betrayed partner will stay in the relationship but keep their emotional distance from their partner as a way to protect themselves. This is a relationship that looks great on the outside and even pretty good if you look a little closer. But there’s distance and a lack of true intimacy. With this path of recovery, I see two happy-ish people who are together in being lonely on the inside.  In these relationships, there is the potential for the betrayed partner to shift back into a connected relationship, but the willingness to open themselves back up the risk of trusting has to be present.  

These two outcomes happen less common and take intensive treatment to change.  The betrayed partner must have some willingness to accept this unwanted addition to their life story.  They don’t have to like it, but there must be an acknowledgment and acceptance that it is.  

And here’s the best, most common outcome I see. A couple will decide to be vulnerable, take risks, and stay in the discomfort that comes with recovery together. They realize the old marriage is gone and a new marriage has to be intentionally created. With these couples, I see the betrayed partner gradually become more themselves, more confident in their ability to survive very-bad-things, and proud of the work they’ve done to create a new relationship.

This partner uses the trauma of infidelity and changes the energy of the destruction to the energy of growth and creation. 

Oftentimes, the betrayed will exhibit many symptoms of PTSD after the discovery of betrayal.  They may experience:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • No appetite

  • Nightmares

  • Clumsiness

  • Forgetfulness

  • Emotions that swing from one extreme to another

In the early stages of recovery, these are all normal.  

However, what I sometimes see in the end stages of recovery for the betrayed partner is:

  • A person more authentically engaged in their relationship

  • A person who knows they will survive if this happens again

  • A person who knows they have the strength to recover

  • A person who knows they have the drive to take charge of their life

These betrayed partners feel joy, contentment, and are glad they made the decision to attempt the repair.  

With therapy, talking with others, reading books, listening to podcasts, they learn to see the infidelity as something that belongs to their partner.  The cheat was something that did not have anything to do with them.  They see the infidelity not as demeaning or humiliating to them but saying speaking solely about their partner.  

Infidelity can demolish relationships and also be something that can be more than just survived.  For both partners.  

I don’t like to use ‘always’ or ‘never’ statements, but I will here.  No couple ever gets through recovery with complete grace.  There is always at least one moment that people look back on and think “yeah, I wish I had done that differently”.  Give yourself the gift of accepting your imperfections and accept, this process does not exist without a few moments you may wish you could take back.  

If you have this type of moment in your recovery, I find they become neutralized with apologies.  Owning your behavior and words, showing you are remorseful, and explaining how you’ll handle things going forward works to rebuild.  

If you’re on the fence about whether to stay or go, let’s talk. You don’t have to figure this out alone.

4 Signs Your Partner is Potentially Being Unfaithful

Remember when Ashley Madison, the website that helps people cheat on their spouses, was hacked? As news spread, many of us probably wondered if our own partners would be capable of cheating.

A survey by polling company YouGov uncovers some rather startling statistics. When they asked roughly one thousand Americans about their fidelity, 21% of men and 19% of women admitted that they had, in fact, cheated on their partners. Another 7% stated they would prefer not to answer the question. It’s safe to say we can probably put that 7% over with the “yeses.”

Another study, this one published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that the average person has about a 42% chance of cheating on their partner. 9% of these participants admitted they had already strayed.

If these numbers are getting you to wondering about your own relationship, here are 4 signs your partner is being (or is thinking about being) unfaithful:

(Before hopping into this, while these are potential signs, please do not interpret this as, “Yes, my spouse is cheating,” or “No, they aren’t”).

1. More Time Away from Home

Has your partner suddenly become a social butterfly? Are they spending time at social events or out with co-workers after work? Does their job suddenly require them to spend more time on out-of-town travel assignments?

2. Secretive Smartphone Usage

Do you find your partner spending more time texting on his or her smartphone? When you enter the room, do they suddenly put it down?

3. They Seem More Irritable

Do they seem like they get easily irritated by anything you say or do? Do they blow up when asked simple questions or accuse you of accusing them of something?

4. Lack of Sexual Desire

Even though they are getting slimmer and wearing tighter, sexier clothing in public, they have a lack of sexual desire in your direction.

You Can Recover from An Affair

While it is painful to recognize your relationship may not be as strong as it once was, the good news is, you can recover from an affair. When the offender shows true remorse and the partner is ready to truly forgive, healing can begin, and the relationship can become even stronger than it once was.

If you or someone you know is reeling from the betrayal of infidelity and you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

How to Deal with Infidelity in a Relationship

When infidelity occurs in a relationship, it can be very devastating for the parties involved. Infidelity involves breaking a promise to be completely faithful to your partner, and when it happens, it erases the trust that existed in the relationship. Dealing with infidelity can be pretty challenging and it raises tough questions. Should you stay? Should you forgive? Can trust be rebuilt? Will things ever be the same? If you’ve just found out that your partner has been unfaithful and you’re not sure of what to do, this article is for you.

It’s important to note that infidelity can occur in any relationship. We often think it’s never going to happen in our relationship, but existing statistics show that infidelity occurs in about a third of relationships.

Why do people cheat?

People cheat for a variety of reasons, and it rarely has anything to do with the person that’s being cheated on. You might think your partner was unfaithful because of something you did or didn’t do, but that’s rarely true. Here are some reasons people cheat:

– To feel desirable
– Impulse/Lack of self-control
– Boredom
– Impaired decision making under the influence of drugs or alcohol
– Sex addiction

Remember that none of these reasons is an excuse, and the cheater made choices.

Can a relationship survive infidelity?

Yes, it’s possible for a relationship to survive infidelity, but it means that both partners have to be willing to work hard at rebuilding the trust that has been broken, healing, and making the relationship strong again.

Here are a few tips:

– Talk about the affair- It’s important for both parties to have an open and honest discussion about the affair. It also helps to talk to a relationship counselor together, and explore ways that you both can heal faster.
– Remember the good times- Cheating is painful, but it helps to reminisce about the good times and all the wonderful things your partner did for you in the past.
– Tackle old issues- Now is a great time to tackle all the underlying issues in your relationship and create a fresh start.
– Practice radical honesty– Try to be completely honest with each other about how you feel and how you want to be loved.
– Set a timetable for recovery- Both of you need to be intentional about your recovery. The cheater needs to allow the betrayed party ample time for healing, and honor the other person’s recovery process.
– Start something new- Remember how excited you both were when you just fell in love? Rekindle that magic by doing an activity you both enjoy together, and incorporating more romance into your relationship.
– Reaffirm your commitment- There needs to be an understanding that infidelity will never occur in the relationship again, and a willingness to keep that promise by both parties.

In rebuilding a relationship damaged by infidelity, patience is key. With the support of each other, family, friends, and a good therapist it is possible for a couple to move past an affair and become even stronger. I offer relationship counseling services for couples who find themselves in this difficult situation, and you can contact me to book a session.