First posted at: https://surehopecounseling.com/2021/10/26/individual-affair-recovery-counseling-for-betraying-partners/
The importance of individual affair recovery counseling for both partners in a marriage (or committed relationship) is critical. Couples counseling is also critical to healing and repair when the timing becomes appropriate for both partners. And yet, why is individual counseling necessary for the betraying partner, one may ask? After all, is it not the betrayed partner who has been lied to, blind sighted, cheated on, and wounded deeply? Should not all the attention and counseling be showered upon the betrayed partner? It is absolutely true the betrayed partner needs empathy, validation and support to grieve over the infidelity. It is equally important for betraying partners to seek out individual counseling. A betraying partner is also deeply wounded from having an affair.
The decision to cheat on a partner is not a positive solution for solving relationship problems however, a decision to cheat can indicate unhealthiness or a “failing to thrive” marriage. It is important to note the word “can” because as Psychology Today explains, not all partners who cheat claim unhappiness or dissatisfaction in their marriages, “Over the years, I’ve had countless clients tell me that they love their spouse, they have a great relationship, they enjoy each other’s company, they respect each other, they’re attracted to each other, the sex is good, and there are no money or family or other obvious relationship problems. The only real issue is that they’re cheating, and they can’t, or don’t, want to stop. “ (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/201806/4-reasons-why-infidelity-happens-even-in-happy). When an affair is discovered or confessed this can become a catalyst for verbalizing the problems within a marriage. Once problems in a marriage are verbalized a couple can decide to seek counseling and begin to repair the relationship and work on the difficulties within the relationship. This often includes learning new communication skills and becoming educated about basic detrimental behaviors for a marriage. The marriage can then become stronger as a result if forgiveness and healing can be achieved.
According to Psychology Today, “Affairs, at their core, are about longing and a deep need for external validation” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves/201512/why-people-really-have-affairs). And this is the reason why counseling for the betraying partner is so significant. It is important for the betraying partner to explore and understand their own needs and longings. It is surprising how many people struggle to understand themselves. The avoidance of self-exploration can be indicative of unhealthy coping mechanisms to avoid healing from past hurts. When clients become aware of themselves, of their needs and longings, where those needs and longings were met in the past, or perhaps not met in the past, growth begins. It is impossible to expect our partners to meet our every need and longing however, as awareness of self, increases, the opportunity to communicate needs and longings to our partners becomes a possibility. Expressing requests for needs and longings to our partners creates opportunities for connection and connecting is a way to strengthen the relationship overall.
In working with clients who are seeking healing and recovery from having had an affair, the understanding and awareness of self often leads to insight and revelation about the meaning behind an affair. Shirley Glass explains in her book, “Not Just Friends” why it is important for couples to come to a definition together about the “meaning of the affair.” This includes the work of the betraying partner discovering unmet longings and need for validation which were likely been sought out from their affair partner.
-Susan Steier – https://surehopecounseling.com/susan-steier/
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