Discovery of infidelity undoubtedly wrecks havoc on any marriage and family involved. But is it possible to work through the overwhelming feelings of betrayal and guilt to build a healthy relationship once again?

If both partners are truly devoted to being with each other, the short answer is yes.

It does take a lot of work and dedication to get through the hurt and overcome this seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Because of this, it is extremely beneficial to have a therapist mediate this process.

Here are a few tips:

• Initially, it is important for the unfaithful partner to take responsibility for their actions and admit their guilt and remorse. Much of the time, one is so guilt-ridden about their actions that they avoid this conversation, which creates only further distance from the hurt partner

• The hurt partner must be given a chance to ask questions about the affair and feel that the betrayer is addressing these concerns with honesty – sometimes the therapist will suggest that these conversations happen only in therapy

• The hurt partner must be given permission to express his/her feelings about the affair but without using contempt or criticism – it is understandable the hurt partner is angry, but the unfaithful partner will shut down if contempt & criticism are used

• No doubt conflict will arise during this period of time where intense feelings are being explored and discussed. It is important to have strategies to deescalate conflict, so as not to worsen the situation

• Once the partners are in a place where both parties are starting to feel understood by one another and the trust is beginning to build between them, the couple can start exploring potential reasons why an affair occurred. The number one predictor of affairs is opportunity; access and desirability to others. For example, it’s common for affairs happen on business trips (i.e., access). But a partner must have a need to be desired in order to act on access. This is why it’s important for the couple to look at potential weak aspects of their relationship before the affair took place, that perhaps lead to the unfaithful partner’s loss of feelings of desirability. It’s important to not use this as validation for the unfaithful partner, but more as a tool to improve the new relationship the couple is building together. It’s also important to distinguish between the relationship before the affair from the relationship after the affair. It’s not feasible to assume the relationship before the affair will be resumed. The couples must build a new one using the steps above.

Stay tuned for our next blog entry, Part 2: Rebuilding romance, sex, & intimacy and the infidelity contract, of our Infidelity Series!

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