So much damage has been done. Can couples counseling really help us deal with infidelity?
Most therapists would be quick to recommend couples therapy no matter the circumstances because of the importance of getting the objective truth out in the open so both partners can sufficiently process the events and their emotions. In situations involving an affair, both partners tend to make assumptions about the other that may not be true:
So much has changed that we can’t possibly fall in love again.”
In couples counseling, a therapist is able to get you both to speak openly and honestly about your relationship and clear up any misconceptions or miscommunications that might prevent you from reconciling. More often than not, standing on the common ground and telling the complete truth will help you see each other in a different light and empathize with each other. Additionally, a therapist can help you both understand the emotional and physical impacts of the affair on each of you, supporting you vocalize and affirming your emotions as a part of the healing process.
It is very likely that you are both carrying baggage from your childhood, previous relationships, or misconceptions about this relationship that is subconsciously impacting your objective judgment. Getting down to the root of your insecurity, self-consciousness, fear, and distrust, in general, can help you as you cope with this situation of infidelity, but it is unlikely that you will dig deep enough without the assistance of a therapist.
Can’t we just figure out our relationship on our own?
In therapy, you will be encouraged to be empathetic and not judgmental. This is very difficult to do when emotions are high, and you are talking about everything amongst yourselves or with a family member or friend. The neutral setting that couples therapy provides allows you to discuss your perspectives with guidance from a licensed professional who has helped many couples like you, recognizing that each situation is different. Most likely, when you try to talk about the infidelity at home, tears and yelling are involved, and while there may still be tears and yelling in couples therapy, you are guided in ways that will lead your sessions to end on more agreeable terms.
An additional aspect of your relationship that needs the advice and guidance of a therapist is your interactions with each other if children are involved in your relationship. Your children are being impacted by this affair and the resulting ups and downs, whether they seem to like it or not, and a therapist can help you communicate with them and each other.
What if we are planning to split up?
Hopefully, you will enter couples therapy with an open mind, willing to work with one another and the therapist, having not made up your mind yet about the future of your relationship. By talking openly with one another with assistance from your therapist, you will get a more definite sense of the status of your own hearts and the potential reconciliation of your relationship.
There is always hope for reconciliation and healing, so just give your relationship a fighting chance. It is difficult to clearly see and think when you are in the midst of the emotional and logistical ups and downs of the aftermath of an affair, which just emphasizes the necessity for couples therapy. Your therapist can help you understand yourself and empathize with your partner, keeping your children in mind, and lead you down the path of reconciliation.