Now What? Moving Forward from Infidelity

Statistics show that infidelity within a marriage happens in 30 – 60 percent of relationships; men are more likely to cheat than women, it’s more common in younger couples and many instances happen without ever being discovered by one’s spouse.

People cheat for many reasons – lack of communication is the most cited, but others certainly abound: the thrill of secrecy, of being desired again, or a lack of love and intimacy in a primary relationship are all common.

Now What? While this is the first questions, here are the ones that might happen next:

Questions to ask yourself before beginning couples’ therapy:

  • Do I believe that infidelity is a ‘game over’ event in my marriage?

  • Am I the kind of person that forgives and moves forward?

  • Do I want my counselor to align with my feelings or be ‘the voice of reason’?

  • Do I have the same definition of ‘cheating’ as my partner? (This can be a whole issue unto itself)

  • Do I want to stay married, break up, or something else?

  • Am I the kind of person that believes in an ‘eye for an eye’ – they had an affair, so I can too – then we’re ‘even’?

  • Am I willing to commit to working through this issue with my partner in therapy?

Questions to ask your partner:

  • Do you believe that infidelity is a ‘game over’ event in our marriage? (Regardless of whether you or your spouse cheated, to remain together, both parties need to be on the same page on this issue)

  • Are you the kind of person that forgives and moves forward? (Again, even if you aren’t the person who cheated, if they can’t forgive themselves, counseling will be difficult)

  • Do you want to stay together, break up or something else?

  • Are you willing to commit to working through this issue with me in therapy?

Questions to ask a potential therapist:

  • How does your professional therapeutic model address infidelity? Ie: a Cognitive Behavioral Approach might look to identifying behaviors that led to the infidelity and establishing new patterns while a Narrative approach might examine how the affair impacts the future stories of both the couple and the individuals as they move forward from the event.

  • What outcomes might we expect from participating in therapy?

  • Do you recommend individual as well as couples’ counseling and will you collaborate with those therapists so I don’t have to repeat every story every time?

Finding couples counselor – I feel – should be worth a bit of investigation: while it’s easy to look through your insurer listings or location–based therapist search (psychology today, theravive etc.) if there isn’t a match in terms of fundamentals or process, you might find the same hurdles with your counselor that you’ve discovered in your spouse. So perhaps the most important question to ask is –

  • can we meet for a bit first to see if we’re a good fit?

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