Monday, July 18, 2016

Paying the high price of infidelity

One client's story:
I’ll never forget the day I found out my husband had been cheating on me. I was sitting at the kitchen table paying our bills when my partner came home from work late. He’d been doing that from time to time, but I thought nothing of it. This night was different. As soon as he came through the door, a heavy, dark force entered our apartment. I didn’t realize at the time it was infidelity. “What’s wrong?” I asked. When he didn’t answer, I walked over to him and we sat down on the living room couch. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I’ve been having an affair.” My heart started pounding, my mouth immediately dried up and I felt the room spin. As he recounted the whole sordid tale, I cried, screamed and raged for hours until I had no more. Infidelity has ravaged me, and our relationship.
In the aftermath of that horrible night, I performed at work in a perfunctory fashion, and at home, I ignored my partner’s existence and retreated to the spare bedroom. I went into survival mode and scoured the internet for similar stories, reports, forums and more, until I ultimately forged a plan to repair my shattered heart, and maybe even our relationship. These are the highlights of what I learned about infidelity from both the internet and a gifted counselor.
Infidelity shatters the sanctity of trust in a relationship
Since trust is a major requirement needed for any relationship to succeed, a romantic betrayal is particularly devastating. True intimacy can only be achieved when partners totally trust one another, and a breach of that trust shatters a relationship at the core level. What’s worse, people like this client who trusted their partner and are completely blindsided by an infidelity, suffer more than someone who has been suspicious, because it also makes us question our own innate judgment.

People who are suffering from their spouse’s infidelity also go through a grieving period over the loss of trust. Often times, they run through the whole gamut of emotions during this time such as depression and anxiety, anger, helplessness, frustration, lack of self-esteem and more. Often they have had a hard time focusing on anything and sleeping during this time too.

But as the couple work through their feelings and began to communicate with their partner again, they discover there is a path to recovery. First, they agreed that if they both wanted it enough, they could survive the infidelity, and maybe – just maybe – come out stronger on the other side.

In order for them to move forward, he needed to admit that he messed up and fully take responsibility for hurting his wife, himself, and their future together. They also needed to look at what factors might have contributed to this happening. Did he feel insecure sexually, and this affair boosted is self-esteem? Were they making enough time for each other?

Next, he needed to completely sever ties with the woman he cheated with. That meant that he had to speak with her to tell her in person, and he requested a transfer to a different location so he wouldn’t see her at work anymore.

Finally, he had to agree to give he the time she needed for her emotional wounds to heal, plus limit the time they discussed his infidelity. They always tried to limit those talks to a half hour, and follow them up with a fun activity together.

Together, they forged ahead with one singular purpose – to save the marriage. I am happy to say they are still together.

If you find yourself in need of professional help, please do not hesitate to contact L. Kay Byers, LPC-S at 214 546 4514.

1 comment:

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