Although an affair is one of the most painful betrayals of trust that anyone can experience, it does not always mean the end of a relationship. Frequently, both partners hope to save the relationship and stay together despite the loss of trust and underlying problems that may have contributed to the affair. Couples therapy can be a valuable tool to help partners work on their relationship and to reestablish trust and intimacy. It can help partners who no longer communicate in positive ways to improve their ability to share both the positive parts of their lives as well as the challenges that they face both in and out of the relationship. Sometimes those who have been cheated on may feel that their partners are the ones who need therapy. But while an affair may be a failure and a betrayal on the part of only one partner, preserving and strengthening a relationship after an affair is the responsibility of both partners. It should go without saying that the partners who cheated need to take responsibility for their actions. But those who have been cheated on need to be comfortable allowing their partners to identify the grievances and problems that they believe contributed to the affair. They also need to be willing to jointly address these problems in order to ensure that both partners are happier and more secure in the relationship in the future.
Success Doesn’t Always Mean Staying Together
Sometimes, success from couples therapy after an affair does not have to mean that a couple stays together. Even after therapy, the cheated on partner may come to realize that he cannot fully trust his partner again. Therapy can also help couples to realize that the underlying problems that contributed to the affair are too serious for them to be willing or able to work through. Couples can also come to these realizations without therapy, of course, but the process of professional counseling can bring about these realizations more quickly and definitively. Counseling can help to ensure that each partner’s grievances and concerns are heard and can help the couple to create clear goals and expectations for moving forward. If the relationship still fails to recover after therapy, then couples can feel more confident calling it quits. Another benefit that can be taken from counseling even if couples break up is a better understanding of what leads to relationship struggles and infidelity. Individuals can then take greater insight into what it takes to keep relationships going strong, as well as what can lead them to fall apart, into their future romantic partnerships.
Recognizing When Therapy Isn’t Working
Therapy is a productive process for most couples regardless of the ultimate outcome. However, there are times when therapy does not work out, and there are even times when the straying partner may be using therapy as a way to convince her partner that she intends to change when she doesn’t really mean to do so. One warning sign that your cheating partner is not prepared to take therapy seriously is that you are doing all the legwork to make it happen. You are the one who found the therapist, you are the one who found a time that worked and you are the one who called for the appointment. Another major warning sign is that your partner is using therapy sessions to lie or manipulate you further. If you start to feel that your partner is twisting the truth and using your sessions to make you feel guilty and to place a great deal of the blame on you, it may be time to cut your losses.