Marital Infidelity: Can Your Relationship Be Saved?
Jan 23, 2014 - 3:10:31 PM
Relationship Specialist Dr. Daniel Watter Offers Tips on Coping with Unfaithfulness
There are many reasons for infidelity. Even the definition of what constitutes infidelity varies. An emotional attachment without physical intimacy - including an online relationship - may seem less threatening but can be more damaging than an affair based primarily on sex. "Infidelity can afflict happy marriages as well as troubled ones," says Dr. Watter, "and while sex - or more accurately, the excitement and romance of a new relationship - is the driving factor in some cases, dissatisfaction with themselves or their lives is more often what drives the straying partner."
Whatever the motivation for infidelity, repairing the relationship after an affair comes to light is dependent on rebuilding trust. But before that process can begin, there must be clarity as to whether the couple is committed to the relationship. One or both partners may be ambivalent about wanting to stay in the marriage. "Often counseling is needed to help people sort out their feelings, which are likely to be confused and conflicted," Dr. Watter says. "Sometimes it becomes clear that the goal of counseling should be to effect a constructive separation. But if the couple is resolved to reconcile, we encourage them to work through a series of steps that will lead to forgiveness and the re-establishment of trust."
Tips for Coping with Infidelity
Dr. Watter identifies three stages as a couple rebuilds their relationship after infidelity. In the first stage of recovery, the partners must manage the pain that accompanies discovery of the affair and the affair must come to a definitive end.
In the second stage, as the trauma of discovery recedes, the couple can explore the conditions that led to the affair, whether within or external to the marital relationship.
Finally, understanding the vulnerabilities that led to the affair, the couple can reset their relationship and be more attuned to each others' needs going forward. "Forgiveness isn't easy and it takes time but it is possible," Dr. Watter concludes. "Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting. In fact, couples can't and shouldn't forget what happened. But they can and must learn from it and even use it as the foundation for building a stronger, more open and more enduring relationship."
Daniel N. Watter, Ed.D. specializes in the treatment of individuals and couples experiencing sexual and/or relationship problems.Morris Psychological Group, P.A. offers a wide range of therapy and evaluation services to adults, children and adolescents.
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