A recent study showed that in over 1/3 of marriages, one or both partners admit to having cheated at least once during the course of their marriage. While this statistic may not exactly be much of a reassurance if you have experienced infidelity in your own marriage, it may give you some comfort to know that cheating is a very common cause of problems in a marriage and that you are not alone. When infidelity occurs in a marriage, the consequences may bring many traumatic and difficult challenges.
These challenges may be the result of a partner learning about a recent one-night stand or the discovery of an ongoing affair. It may also be caused by a past infidelity which has never really been resolved and which still causes deep rooted problems in the relationship. Whatever the situation may be however, the consequences of infidelity almost always reveal a complex web of emotions that are brought to the surface and which can be not only overwhelming for each spouse, but which can also cause long lasting problems and perhaps even bring about the dissolution of the marriage. In fact, the frequency with which infidelity is cited as a source of conflict in marriages is also a contributing factor to the high rate of divorces but the good news is that it doesn't have to end this way. It is possible to work through the marital problems caused by infidelity and eventually restore the love and trust that was once lost.
The Consequences of Infidelity
When infidelity occurs and is discovered, there are typically strong emotional responses that take place between the couple. On both sides there may be feelings of loneliness, despair, and disillusionment. One partner may feel betrayed, hurt, humiliated, hopeless, disgusted, and alone. The other partner may feel guilt, shame, desperation, or remorse. These feelings from both partners may spiral out of control and lead one or both spouses to feel a complete loss of hope in any kind of future with each other and may also lead to further separation, isolation, or an unwillingness to communicate. If this happens, one or both spouses may feel that there is no possible solution except for divorce and this painful conclusion can often bring about its own set of emotional responses like fear, uncertainty, doubt, anguish, and many other feelings. These issues may be especially profound if there are children involved.
In some cases, a couple may stay married for many years after the discovery of an adulterous relationship. Despite the fact that the infidelity occurred in the past, there may be residual feelings that were unresolved on either side which could cause a communication breakdown and an inability to truly connect with each other. Perhaps, the spouse who has been cheated on may never really have forgiven the act of infidelity or it may have caused feelings of perpetual insecurity or a loss of self-esteem. Maybe the one who cheated never really resolved his or her own feelings of inadequacy which led her to cheat in the first place or possibly may still desire a strong sexual closeness which is still missing. These types of situations can cause sadness, depression, a lack of interest in each other or the marriage, increased isolation, loneliness, insecurity, an inability to communicate, repression of feelings and desires, and a decreased quality of life. It is not unusual for spouses in this type of situation to turn to drugs or alcohol and the emotional issues may even manifest as physical health problems.
How to Heal from Infidelity
If any of this sounds familiar to you and you are dealing with problems caused by infidelity in your marriage, then it's time to begin working on the real issues beneath the surface so that you can then learn how to heal. Even if you are at the point where you feel that there is little hope and that divorce might be your only way out, I can assure you that it is not the only solution. In reality, there is no marriage that is beyond repair as long as both spouses still want the marriage to work and are willing to come together to make it work. Counseling and couples therapy, which is a unique type of therapy that targets and is designed specifically for couples, may offer both you and your spouse some much needed guidance and direction.
Through couples therapy, you and your spouse will gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of the infidelity as an indication of other problems that may exist in your marriage and then you can try to discover the real issues and roots of the problems. In the process, you will both gain a greater understanding of each other, your needs, and your goals and it will help you both to understand more about your differences.
Couples Therapy at Mary Shull Counseling
My couples therapy program at Mary Shull Counseling is designed to help marriages that are on the verge of collapse because of infidelity or other problems. It also will provide the means to help you repair and rebuild your marriage and you will learn how to utilize some of these tools in the future to maintain a strong, healthy and connected relationship. Couples therapy is an effective method to offer support and treatment for spouses and marriages that have been seriously damaged and troubled with deep seated and sometimes hidden issues. My couples therapy has helped many marriages affected by infidelity and can give you and yours a healthy and restorative way of dealing with the problems and avoid the disruptive and difficult finality of divorce. Contact me at Mary Shull Counseling for more information or to schedule an appointment to discuss how couples therapy may be of benefit to you, your spouse, and your marriage.