January 2017
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Dear Readers,

This month I undertake the topic of extra-marital affairs and the process of recovery. It is not possible to address all the aspects of this topic in a newsletter. I only intend to offer hope to those who may be experiencing the effects of infidelity and describe some of the components of healing and recovery.

Surviving The Affair

There are few experiences more devastating to a marriage than an extra-marital affair. The betrayed spouse experiences a range of overwhelming feelings. He or she feels they have been living a lie and can no longer trust what is real. There is a sense of being made a fool of in front of anyone who knows of the affair including the spouse and lover. The betrayed will also likely experience rage, insecurity, self-doubt and shame. The unfaithful spouse may also experience shame, guilt and fear of loss (either of the marriage or the lover or both).

Most of us have stated resolutely that if we were ever to be cheated on we would end the relationship. In reality many couples decide to remain together and work to recover from the infidelity. In addition, many of those couples report happy, fulfilling marriages after committing to that work. Choosing to remain in a marriage where there has been infidelity is a risky decision. There is no guarantee that the work will result in success or that another betrayal will not occur. This is why both partners must be genuine when offering hope for the future of the couple and must dedicate themselves to absolute honesty through the difficult process of recovery and beyond.

In the Top Ten that follows I offer some basic requirements for healing from infidelity. The list is in no way comprehensive and every couple's path is their own. Please note that the chance of successful recovery from an affair is greatly increased by investing in couple's therapy. If you are experiencing the aftermath of an affair and would like some professional assistance please contact me. I am always here to help.

Top Ten Steps To Recovery After An Affair

There is no simple formula to surviving an affair but these steps are a necessary foundation.

1. Know that healing is possible. Many marriages not only survive infidelity but develop improved communication and a more fulfilling relationship.

2. Both spouses must recommit to the marriage. Repairing a marriage after infidelity requires hard work that can't be accomplished if either partner is taking a "wait and see" position.

3. All contact with the third party must cease. Trust cannot be re-established if the partner who cheated is still communicating with the outside person.

4. The partner who was betrayed must share the pain they experience. Sometimes the spouse who was cheated on resists sharing their experience in an effort to shield their already threatened marriage. This thwarts honest communication and sabotages recovery.

5. The betrayer must listen to their spouse's experience. A partner who won't listen is not taking responsibility. This will also stop the recovery process.

6. The unfaithful partner must apologize. The apology must be an honest account of the actions that were taken, the pain that was caused and the actions that will be taken to repair the damage.

7. Avoid quick forgiveness. According to Dr. Janis Spring, author of After the Affair, "cheap forgiveness" keeps anger from being properly vented and stops the grieving process. It is most often given by the spouse who fears being alone more than another incidence of infidelity.

8. Address problems that existed before the affair. Only the unfaithful spouse is responsible for the decision to have an affair. However, affairs often happen in the face of problems within the marriage.

9. The balance of power must reverse. During the affair the unfaithful spouse was wielding the power in the relationship even unbeknownst to his or her partner. After it has come to light the partner must temporarily be given the power and be allowed to ask for assurances such as checking phones and computer histories.

10. Seek professional help. Studies show that couples who seek therapy have nearly three times the rate of remaining married than those who do not. And, those marriages are found to be just as happy as marriages that have not experienced infidelity.

Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Barbara is a psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience helping individuals and couples to achieve happier, more fulfilling lives. She assists clients to better understand themselves, improve their relationships and develop more effective responses to life's problems.

Barbara always welcomes the opportunity to work with new clients.
Barbara Hill, LCSW-C
6236 Montrose Road
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: (301) 340-3050

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Barbara Hill, LCSW-C · 6236 Montrose Road · Rockville, MD 20852 · USA