I would like to be quite clear. Infidelity hurts. Infidelity is destructive. I am not suggesting infidelity. However, when cheating happens in a relationship it does not have to be the end. An infidelity can be a wakeup call that your relationship was not working for one or both of you. If you want to be together, you can use this knowledge to fix what was not working and in that way your relationship can be enhanced.
An affair can be like a small heart attack. When a person has a small heart attack, he/she seeks professional help. He/she usually then begins to pay attention, takes care of his/herself, and uses the tools given by the professional. He/she then becomes stronger and healthier, avoiding a massive and fatal heart attack. An affair can be viewed in the same way manner. If both partners want the relationship to continue, then they can actually make it stronger and better. It takes communication, commitment, time, effort, energy, and attention.
“Infidelity,” according to Wikipedia, is a breach of faith, and it occurs in a number of contexts. It does not depend on the presence of sexual behavior. Even within a close relationship, people might have extremely different ideas and perceptions of infidelity. Fidelity refers to the accuracy and integrity of self-representation, honesty, or candor in an intimate, committed relationship.
What does “infidelity” mean? “Marriage,” usually means that you trust a loved one to care about you, to be true to you, to have integrity within your relationship, and to put the couple relationship above all other relationships. When that trust is broken, you may feel betrayed, rejected, uncared about, and unloved. Broken trust is extremely hard to heal. Sometimes we cannot afford not to get some professional help. Counseling is a means to get tools for living…nothing else. Counseling will also help you look at the big picture and find some answers that may have never occurred to you. Remember you are not alone in this. You have a partner, and you can have a professional on your (the relationship’s) side.
Having a relationship with another person that takes your attention, time, energy, finances, or caring away from your primary partner is an affair. To heal broken trust, it takes time. It takes both partners actively working on the necessary issue. It takes the partner who broke the trust to look at the why and take steps to make sure there is not another incident. The partner who was “cheated on” may have extremely tight boundaries for the other partner for a while. “Cheating” can be chatting with someone on the internet in an intimate fashion, spending time with pornography, frequent and/or lengthy phone calls to someone, or establishing a relationship with someone over the internet. Infidelity does not necessarily involve physical touching. Infidelity can be an emotional infidelity. If the activity uses communication, time, effort, energy, and attention that really belongs in your primary relationship, it is infidelity.
There are many aspects to personal recovering from a breach of trust. Our personal history is a basis for how well we will recover. If we were abused, betrayed, abandoned, neglected, or had our trust betrayed in our growing up years but have not dealt with or healed around this issue, then it will be more difficult to recover from betrayal in an adult relationship. Our own health, mental and emotional, will determine our ability to move on. Our personality will color our recovery.
No one can give you a magic potion or quick answer to recovery. You personally will have to take it step by step, honoring your own needs, strengths, and weaknesses. If your partner wants to heal the relationship, you can work together and communicate effectively to help you work through to the other side.
It not only helps to have a third objective person, but it also helps to get tools for communication, resolution of issues, exploring family patterns, exploring personal needs, and ways to establish personal rights and boundaries. Committed relationships are damaged when infidelity occurs. Sometimes this damage is irreparable. Most of the time, if both partners want recovery, the relationship can actually be stronger and more fulfilling after an affair has happened.
“Hot Monogamy” can happen. I give my clients a “four-hour homework assignment” when they are ready to really cement their relationship and increase emotional and physical intimacy. Using an infidelity to enhance your relationship means finding the reasons why it happened, addressing the fact both partners had a part of the dance, and paying attention to the all relationship building tools you can find.
Communicate, care, and be intimate. Spend time creating your relationship; it doesn’t grow all alone. Enjoy pleasure and be joyful. Remember: sometimes infidelity can be like a small heart attack, but you can heal and make your relationship stronger, better, and full of joy.
© Copyright 2011 by Yvonne Sinclair, MA, therapist in Lincoln, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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