Dealing with Infidelity

Infidelity can be devastating to a relationship. What people consider as “cheating” may vary from person to person. For example, you may feel that viewing pornography is cheating, or having very personal conversations with a member of the opposite sex is cheating, but your partner may not see it that way.

Many people feel that cheating is a deal-breaker, an absolute end of the relationship – and it often is. However, sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes, people don’t want to walk away from a long-term relationship. They may still genuinely love each other, or it can be especially hard to dissolve the relationship when children are involved. Even though there could be an interest to work through the breach of trust and get to the root of the problem and try to salvage the relationship, it comes with challenges that may be difficult to navigate on your own.

How can therapy help your relationship heal from unfaithfulness?

Recovering from infidelity is a tricky thing. It takes time and patience to regain the trust that was compromised. The partner who was cheated on can take a very long time to heal and may find it difficult to move forward and not bring up the infidelity over and over. They may experience signs of trauma or even PTSD. The person who was unfaithful may feel tremendous guilt and not know how to prove that they are committed to the relationship. Both people can be highly affected by anxiety or depression as a result of the affair. That’s just dealing with the aftermath – it’s important to discuss what led to the infidelity in the first place. Finally, you then have to learn to navigate challenges within your relationship in new healthy ways to truly move forward and fully recover.

This can be very challenging to do on your own – most couples will need support from a qualified, neutral, and nonjudgmental therapist to do so. Insight’s therapists have experience working with couples who’ve dealt with infidelity and can help you to learn new, effective, and healthy ways to communicate your needs to each other.  You will learn tools for dealing with the stressors that most relationships face at one time or another such as parenting, financial challenges, intimacy issues, and the demands of jobs, extended family and chores.

Treatment methods for improving your relationship

Together with your therapist you will determine the best approach to healing your relationship. It may be simply talk-therapy sessions with the therapists, or more involved therapies for dealing with the low self-esteem, anxiety and depression that often accompanies infidelity. Your therapist may also recommend specific and proven treatment couples therapy methods such as:

  • Gottman’s Couples Therapy is based on Dr. John and Julie Gottman’s 40+ years of clinical experience and research that is based on interventions and exercises that are structured, goal-oriented and scientifically-based. What some of the research has shown is that couples need to be able to work on becoming better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future.
  • Gottman Relationship checkup is designed as a tool for use by the therapists at Insight in a therapeutic setting. The tool streamlines the relationship assessment process for your therapist providing personalized, clinical feedback, plus specific recommendations for treatment based on your answers. The questionnaire is composed of 480 questions about friendship, intimacy, emotions, conflict, values, and trust, as well as parenting, housework, finances, individual areas of concern and more.
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an empirically-based approach, which looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interactions. EFT believes that emotions are basically adaptive and guide our attachment needs, while therapy helps clients learn how to express these emotions in ways that facilitate bonding, tolerate and regulate them, while also making sense of those feelings expressed by others. EFT practice is also based on methods designed to help people accept, express, regulate, make sense of and transform emotion, thereby increasing their overall emotional intelligence. EFT attempts to make deep emotional changes in individuals and relationships by shifting from fear and conflict to corrective emotional experiences. Clients are taught to honor their feelings and express them in ways that bring others closer and resolve their needs, rather than engage in patterns that push others away and leave attachment needs unresolved.

When infidelity has been committed in a relationship, it can be devastating, but with hard work and the support of a therapist, it is possible to overcome the infidelity and have a strong and satisfying relationship.