Infidelity - how a relationship can survive

Infidelity, many would suggest it heralds the end of the relationship yet it need not necessarily be so. Infidelity is a huge emotional crisis and undermines the foundations of the relationship, so that has to be rebuilt. If both partners are willing to work hard at it, it can however, be repaired.

While most of us would agree that adultery is infidelity, couples vary in what they think of as it. Infidelity can be defined as “the act or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner”. This involves what you and your partner find acceptable. Different couples will feel differently about activities (a hen night with a male exotic dancer, a lap dancing club, pornography etc.). There is often considerable deceit that breaks the trust.

These arouse deep feelings and they need to be processed and expressed if the relationship is to be saved. Consider John and Jane who have been married for 10 years and things are in a rut. They have started to take each other for granted. John met someone at an office party and slept with her. He has seen her again once. He regrets the affair, has ended it and is about to tell Jane.

Some of the key things that might help John and Jane are:

  • John should tell Jane. He should take full responsibility and not try to excuse the affair on problems in their marriage but be responsible for his actions. He should apologise sincerely and fully.
  • John should be prepared to answer any questions openly, fully and honestly for Jane and be prepared to share emails and texts.
  • He should expect to feel Jane’s anger and hurt over his behaviour. He needs to support Jane who is processing how she feels and allow her the time to recover as dictated by her pace.
  • John must not expect a time scale by which it will be fixed. He does however, need to consider the changes that need to be made to aspects of himself to change the relationship if it is to survive.
  • Jane should avoid making snap life-changing decisions, especially while angry. It is important to take the time to process your feelings before deciding what to do.
  • Jane needs to think about giving herself the time and the space to process her feeling about John and the betrayal and to consider the person she thought he was.
  • Jane needs to consider the wider circumstances, not because any blame for the affair attached to her, rather she needs to consider her behaviour in the marriage if she truly wants it to heal. Jane thinks about this and realise they need to work on communicating better.

Both need to come to a point in time when they decide to move on and decide to put it behind them and work for the future. It may be that you need relationship therapy before after or during these stages to help you to be honest with yourself and each other.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow, G46
Written by Graeme Orr, MBACP(Accred) Counsellor
Glasgow, G46

Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.

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