“Human beings disappoint, fail, and hurt each other,
even those we love with all our hearts.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach
If you’ve been betrayed, the discovery of an affair can be one of the most devastating experiences of your life. Even if you’ve suspected your partner’s been unfaithful, you may feel utter disbelief and shock when it’s confirmed.
Usually, there’s an initial flood of intense feelings such as hurt, rage, jealousy, fear, humiliation, confusion and deep grief. You may feel as if your entire world has been shattered, that everything is strangely surreal. Your nervous system may go into “high alert” making it hard to sleep, eat, think or function. As acutely painful as it is, you may also feel profound relief. You now know the truth. You’re not crazy.
If you’ve been unfaithful, and your partner has discovered the affair, you will also probably be overwhelmed with feelings. You may feel guilty, remorseful, confused, frightened, defensive or ashamed. If the discovery took place some time ago and the two of you are attempting to pick up the pieces, you may feel frustrated, impatient, discouraged and even angry with how long it’s taking to restore trust and connection.
These powerful and overwhelming feelings may last for many months or longer if the trauma and anguish that accompany an affair are not worked through and allowed to heal. Rebuilding trust, honesty and closeness and healing the trauma of the affair can be a long and challenging process. Without question, it may be the hardest thing you’ll each ever have to do. Some couples do not recover. Many couples do. In fact, many couples say–despite the emotional pain and upheaval–the affair dramatically transformed their relationship for the better.
Whether you’re married or unmarried and you’ve been betrayed or you’ve been unfaithful, therapy can be a crucial part of the recovery process. In a safe, non-judgmental environment I provide therapy for both individuals and couples who are at the pre- or post-discovery stages of an affair.
Individual and couples therapy can be important and helpful in the following ways:
- Affairs are overwhelming. Therapy establishes a calm, safe setting in which to cope with and process the flood of feelings related to the initial or prolonged impact of an affair.
- Affairs are confusing. “How could this happen?” is a common question. Therapy can help you better understand a multitude of factors that may have contributed to the infidelity.
- Affairs are traumatizing. Therapy provides support and resources to help the betrayed partner manage post-traumatic stress reactions they may be having. These may include: obsessions, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, agitation, hypervigilance or a startle response.
- Affairs are disruptive and life-altering. Therapy can help you make thoughtful choices and decisions about how to move forward after an affair. Divorce or ending your relationship is not inevitable. Couples, nevertheless, may experience dramatic life changes such as a temporary separation, a partner entering treatment for an addiction or the unfaithful partner quitting a job where the affair took place, etc.
- Affairs affect many people. Therapy can help you sort through who, how and whether to tell certain friends and family members about your situation.
- Affairs are an opportunity. Though extremely difficult and painful, an affair can be a “wakeup call” to help you re-examine and greatly improve your relationship. Therapy can help you learn and grow through the recovery process. You will develop practical and compassionate communication skills to cultivate more honesty, intimacy and trust. Authentic communication is essential in healing from an affair and in preventing future infidelities.
If you’re interested in couples or individual therapy to assist you through this challenging time, please feel free to contact me to schedule a free half-hour phone consultation or to schedule an appointment. You may email me using the link above or you may call me at 415-721-0988.
There is hope. With time, healing can and does occur.