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.
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.”
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.