Why did they have an affair?
When an affair brings a couple to counselling, subsequent sessions often confirm that the trigger point was one partner taking intimate issues outside the relationship. Even if the emotional connection does not progress to sexual intimacy, severe damage can already have been done.
The emotional cost
Sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings with someone outside your marriage/relationship can be considered a betrayal. It is disrespectful to your partner and the relationship you have built over time. Such an action breaks a vital and intensely private connection between partners in a marriage or committed relationship.
For the partner who has been betrayed feelings of great hurt, anger, low self-esteem, anxiety and physical manifestations like loss of appetite and weight loss are commonplace. For the partner who initiated the affair intense feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety over what they have jeopardised and fear of loss follow.
To prevent this kind of precursor to an affair we need to understand what causes people in relationships to seek solace and comfort in others. In essence: what makes a relationship vulnerable?
Where intimacy and the sharing of emotional experiences between the couple has dwindled we can often find the root. In our busier-than-ever modern lives we can be so distracted by careers, social commitments, hitting the gym, bringing up the kids, that we leave an ever decreasing amount of time for each other.
Grievances on both sides of the relationship can quickly gain momentum: one partner feels resentful at carrying the burden of parental responsibilities whilst the other feels the pressure of their work is not recognised. As these escalate, a once close and loving relationship can become passionless and repetitive. Seeking solace and emotional connection with another person is often the next step.
Repairing a relationship after an affair is a painful process. Relationship counselling can assist and help to rebuild trust and intimacy. It is however much more effective to seek counselling support for a relationship when the indicators discussed previously begin to emerge. Relationship counselling before the crisis of an affair is a far better solution.
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About Marion Laird
Marion Laird is national development director for The Spark Counselling – a leading provider of relationship counselling in Scotland. A trained counsellor, Marion is responsible for the delivery of counselling across The Spark’s 12 locations. A member of the BACP and COSCA, Marion is involved in several government initiatives.