Prevalence of Infidelity
In the wake of the Ashley Madison data breach in 2015, the presence of infidelity became a trending topic in the media. In a poll reported by National Post, 10% of Canadians admitted to infidelity, while 22% of people surveyed “seriously considered” having an affair in their relationship. Others have written that over 50% of long-term relationships would suffer the impacts of infidelity at some point in the relationship.
The issue is more commonplace than we think. And it can cause a significant amount of pain and stress in a relationship as couples are facing serious questions about the longevity of their relationship.
Key Things To Know About Infidelity
There are some things that I would like couples to know who find themselves in this scenario:
- Infidelity does not mean it is the end of the relationship; however, to move forward together, each partner needs to be ready to make some serious changes in how they each conduct themselves in the relationship
- Infidelity is often not an isolated incident – the seeds of infidelity can be present for a long time before it comes out in the surface. It is just as important to learn how infidelity became an issue as it is to move forward
- Healing from betrayal will involve dealing with emotional pain, regardless of whether you decide to stay together or stay apart
Recovery from Infidelity
In working with couples recover from infidelity, there are two major issues to begin working through:
- Recovering from the emotional pain / trauma caused by infidelity — this involves both partners as the pain needs to be experienced and expressed by the hurt partner and the betraying partner needs to be emotionally available to absorb the pain and empathic concern towards hurt partner in order for the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation to be possible
- Both partners need to work together to develop a shared understanding of how the relationship became vulnerable to infidelity in the first place – this could include issues such as emotional neglect, bitterness / resentment that built over time, fears around long-term emotional commitment. Once the understanding is formed, each partner would work towards making long-term changes to shore up areas of the relationship that need addressing, and essentially, working towards building long-term trust in each other again
The road to recovery can be difficult and long, as the issues that infidelity bring up are complex and multi-faceted.
My Role in Couples Therapy
I work closely with each partner in each step of the journey. It is done without judgment or condemnation, but rather, with a supportive stance to both partners and empathy towards the issues raised by both partners. I come in with the understanding that the pre-existing issues in the relationship are ones that both partners own and would advocate changes to heal from past wounds (which have often gone unaddressed). It is in doing this that couples can minimize the likelihood from something similar from happening again.
- For the betrayed, the emotional pain needs to acknowledged and expressed before healing can take place. This would involve the presence, acknowledgment and empathic concern from the betraying partner to be present in the relationship
- For the betrayer, the meaning / importance of the infidelity would also need to be acknowledged and expressed. The presence of infidelity often signals relational needs that were not met within the relationship and these need to be expressed in healthy ways going forward
I work with each partner to create a safe place from which couples can finally talk about things that have been plaguing them in the relationship, and healing can begin to take place as unmet needs are expressed and validated.
Infidelity does not need to be the end of the relationship, but can mark the beginning of a healthier one. I encourage couples to take such steps towards establishing a fulfilling relationship once again!
If you wish to make contact with me to discuss further or you wish to book an appointment, please feel free to contact me via my contact page and we can get the ball rolling. I look forward to hearing from you soon.