Healing from an Affair

Cheating, or being cheated on, creates a major crisis in the lives of those involved.

“Sandra” is an attractive, successful woman. She’s in her early-40s, has a 15-year-old daughter, a job she loves, a comfortable house, a fantastic group of friends, a close extended family…and a husband who cheated on her.

It’s been three months since “Ben” confessed to the whole sordid mess. To say that she is devastated would be to minimize Sandra’s reaction to the news. Her whole world has come crashing down around her.

She thought she had married a man who would never, not in a million years, betray her in such a way. Before this happened, she thought that an affair was something that happened to OTHER people, that she would never be the kind of woman who would put up with something this horrific.

She came to Foundations to decide, very simply, what to do next. Ben swears it was a one-time thing, a mistake in a weak moment while he was out of town on business. The questions running through her brain were endless and relentless.

  • Should she – could she – stay with Ben?
  • Can she forgive him and move past this?
  • Is forgiveness possible?
  • If she can forgive him, what does their new relationship even look like?
  • What would life be like as a divorced woman?
  • What does it say about her if she were to stay with him?

Sandra’s story is one we see all the time. Her questions are the same ones people in her situation ask in our office every day.

Nothing stirs up more intense feelings than coping with infidelity. People frequently report feeling out of control and even crazy at times. This is true for both the person who was cheated on as well as the one who did the cheating. Cheating, or being cheated on, creates a major crisis in the lives of those involved. When it does, one word takes center stage, the word that says it all: betrayal.

Few events or situations can compare. Even death is often easier to deal with than betrayal. The betrayal of an affair causes a wound at the deepest level.

There is no right or wrong answer here, but whether a person decides to stay in the relationship or not, recovering from an affair is possible.

My work with Sandra, and my goal when working with couples and individuals, was to help her sort through the feelings that come from betrayal and to chart a path to affair recovery, whether she would choose to end the relationship or stay in it.

Sandra is a case where the couple decided to work on their relationship and stay together. Rebuilding trust and intimacy, redefining an entirely new relationship, and essentially starting over, was often grueling and agonizing work. It took over a year before Sandra and Ben were back on solid ground. And, it was new ground, to be sure.

Today, several years later, the couple is doing well. They still come to Foundations for counseling to check in, and my office is a safe environment where they both have worked so hard to build trust and open communication. But, they are no longer in crisis mode. They are maintaining, and most importantly, GROWING their NEW relationship.

If you decide to stay or go, we will help you make the relationship the best it can be using the research and methods of John Gottman, Ph.D. During affair recovery counseling, you will learn not only how to have a happy, stable relationship, but also how to establish honesty and loyalty to avoid experiencing this crisis again. Dr. Gottman has been researching marriage for over 30 years. What you will learn comes from the most reliable marital research ever conducted.