When one partner engages in a secret, romantic (physical or emotional), relationship with a third party there are often devastating effects on a marriage or committed relationship. Many decide to divorce or separate upon discovery. The feelings of anger, hurt, betrayal, and diminished confidence the other partner experiences may be profound and lasting unless the issues are addressed in a safe environment with a trained counselor.
If partners don't want to end the relationship there are steps to be taken that can heal and repair it that should be addressed and worked through in good after-the-affair counseling. I have worked with hundreds of couples facing this challenge for the past 37 years. When both parties are willing to address the key issues in a safe and respectful way, marriages can actually become stronger after the affair than before it.
A marriage is so much more than the romantic relationship it began as. Family and friends can be almost as devastated as the offended partner. The less couples involve others in the process, the fewer relationships need to be repaired once the decision to stay together is made.
Good therapy will involve:
--Addressing the feelings of the wounded partner and ways to soothe it to move forward and not get stuck in the pain
--Identifying the issues that led to the affair, both in the marital relationship and outside of it
--Strategies to improve both emotional and physical intimacy and the timing of when that can resume
--Increasing communication and conflict resolution skills
--Identifying ways to restore broken trust and redefine the boundaries neccessary to affair-proof the relationship moving forward
These, along with other issues that come up in sessions are vital to restore and repair a broken relationship.