Affairs and Infidelity

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Discovering that your partner has had or is having an affair can be traumatic and confusing. You may have had or be having an affair and feel confused and anxious. Both of you may be unclear as to whether this means the end of your relationship, or whether it is possible for your relationship to recover from infidelity.

Infidelity need not mean the end of your relationship but to be able to recover as a couple you will need to:-

  •  understand why it happened
  •  work together in rebuilding trust
  •  develop skills for how to navigate and negotiate conflict as a couple

What is and isn't infidelity?

What is and isn't infidelity is a personal decision which partners may have different views on. Fundamentally infidelity is a breakdown of boundaries and trust around behaviour. It may involve a third person and/or online activity. Typically infidelity is thought of as non-platonic physical contact or communication, and/or having sex with a third person. However a breakdown of trust in a couple relationship arising from 'inappropriate' communication with a third person, or online interactions can be just as difficult for a relationship.

You and your partner may have different ideas around what is and isn't acceptable behaviour with other people face to face, or via email or social media. Use of pornography with or without the other partner knowing may also casue tensions.

Couple counsellling can help a couple to understand each others feelings and issues around trust and fidelity in their relationship.

Talking about infidelity

Talking about infidelity can be confusing and difficult. There are likely to be many different and conflicting feelings for both partners. Trying to cope with the aftermath and impact of infidelity on your relationship can be uncomfortable and challenging. However if you are able to find a way to make sense of the here and now, alongside how and why infidelity has happened in your relationship, you may be able to find ways of improving and strengthening your relationship. Talking about infidelity and your relationship should also enable you as a couple to make important decisions from a more informed place such as "What can help us in thinking about whether we separate or try to recover from this?"

What if one partner hasn't been told?

If you are afraid or uncertain about disclosing secret behaviour/s to your partner, or your partner knows about your infidelity but does not currently want to go to couple counselling a useful first step is to consider individual counselling. Individual counselling should enable you to make sense of what has happened, and what choices you have in going forward.  Individual counselling can also be helpful for a partner who is worried about their partner's behaviour around fidelity if their partner doesn't want to explore couple counselling.

Sometimes behaviour that was previously not disclosed is spoken about for the first time by a partner in couple counselling.  If this happens counselling provides a safe space for this and I will be able to offer guidance and support for how to cope with the imapct of this as a couple.

How couple counselling can help with infidelity

Couple counselling can provide a safe and constructive place for each partner to speak about their feelings, anxieties and confusion arising from infidelity.

I will be able to help you to:-

  • Make sense of the feelings, distress and confusion infidelity has caused for both partners
  • Understand whether there were ways of behaving in your relationship that made it vulnerable to infidelity such as how you manage conflict as a couple,  or how well you communicate your needs, feelings and expectations to each other
  • Agree specifically what needs to happen for you to rebuild trust as a couple
  • Develop more effective ways of managing expectations, tensions and challenges
  • Re-establish your sex life