What is Adultery?
Cheating, infidelity, or having an affair, is the act of being unfaithful to a committed relationship. Partners who engage in extramarital "online" affairs which can have similarly devastating effects on relationships are included here as well. Adultery does not simply happen “out of the blue”, although it may seem that way to the betrayed spouse. It is instead the eventual outcome of a long line of unresolved issues. Similar to an iceberg, the surface above the water is outward and visible, but underneath, there is much more than what is visible to the outside. While an affair is destructive to a relationship, it is a symptom of something much deeper that has been growing for much longer, signifying the end of a painful road. Counseling at this stage is vital if the relationship is going to be saved. And yes, the good news is that even after something as devastating as infidelity, complete restoration is still possible.
My Husband or Wife Had An Affair
Adultery affects one in every 2.7 couples. According to a published report in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, by the time we are 40, approximately 50% of all wives and 60% of all husbands, will have had some degree of extramarital affair. Author and psychologist, Dr. Phil McGraw, further estimates that only 35% of these affected couples will stay together. Despite this gloomy prognosis, there is life after adultery. Studies show that couples who have chosen to tough it out, seeking couples and or individual counseling, have the best chance of staying together.
Why Did My Partner Cheat?
When we commit to exclusivity to our relationship we make a moral and ethical contract to remain faithful. Unfortunately, when we make these promises, the relationship is often still new and the normal stresses of life have yet to take their toll. Then, when this initial honeymoon period is over, (perhaps the bills are mounting, the job is more demanding then ever and child number two is on its way.) We begin to ask ourselves, “What happened?” There is no doubt the relationship dynamics change over time; they have to in order to accommodate the natural progression of family life. The problem arises however, when we forget to adapt to these changes, more specifically, to each other’s needs as they relate to the changing relationship. Contrary to what you may think, adultery is not merely about sex. In fact, sex is often a bonus to the affair. Adultery and betrayal are about emotional connectedness, the feeling of being wanted, needed, understood, and more importantly, heard. To those on the receiving end however, adultery is a selfish betrayal of trust that brings with it devastating consequences.
Surviving An Affair
The betrayal of adultery cuts much deeper than a simple broken vow. Some experts link the experience to that of physical and emotional abuse. Spouses who have been cheated on often suffer from anxiety, poor self-esteem, depression, humiliation, guilt, and a sense that somehow “it was their fault” or they “deserved it”, especially if the cheating continues. The longer the infractions persist, the deeper the couple falls into a recurring cycle. In the case of adultery, most spouses are eventually able to come to terms with the fact that their spouse cheated, not being able to let go of the memory and fear that it may happen again however, is what destroys most relationships. Trust is the foundation of any relationship and once that foundation is destroyed, it is very hard to rebuild unless both parties are willing to surrender to the fact that in reality, they have no control over what the other may or may not do. This comes full circle to the issue of trust, whether it is in your partner, yourself or something bigger than both of you. For most people, it seems easier to walk away from even a long-term relationship than it is to surrender and learn to develop trust again. Even then, you must make this decision for the right reasons. In order for a relationship to survive, both partners have to make personal changes to their way of thinking and being. But what many people in this situation do not realize, is that there is hope and life after adultery, and surprisingly, the potential to have an even stronger relationship than before.
Moving Forward After An Affair
Moving past an affair is no easy task, but if both you and your partner are dedicated to working through the underlying issues through a competent counselor, the relationship has great hope for the future. Many partners can overcome this highest form of betrayal and be even stronger than before, however, it requires a commitment from both partners. Not all relationships make it. Sometimes the cheater may leave altogether, or the betrayed spouse may decide to walk away. Yet whether the betrayer or the betrayed, even if you decide to leave the relationship, you still need to deal with your own emotional scars so you don’t find yourself in a similar relationship. Values-Based counseling provides essential tools in the healing process. While adultery may be a life-altering experience, it doesn't have to define you or your future choices.
How Counselling Works After Infidelity
Infidelity is not something that occurs in a vacuum. Counselling address the issues in the relationship that led up to the affair. By the time infidelity occurs, there are many deep issues that have already been present for some time, and in order for healing to come, these issues must be addressed. While it is a serious problem in a relationship, infidelity is a symptom of a cluster of intimacy problems and not the root problem. A competent Couples Counsellor looks to find those issues that brought the relationship to a place where an affair became an option. For couples to rebuild their relationship after adultery, counseling addresses the unmet needs and wants for both individuals. Getting past blame and hurt is a difficult, yet critical step in order for forgiveness and restoration to begin. We look at what is still works in a relationship and build on these components to work towards that forgiveness and restoration. While one person may commit the act of betrayal, adultery counseling is not about placing blame, but rather working towards restoration, forgiveness, and healing. We recognize that adultery creates such a volatile situation, that sometimes healing the relationship is not possible because one or both spouses have already made the decision to end the relationship. In those cases where restoration of the relationship is not possible, we commit ourselves to working with the individual to address feelings of hurt, guilt, insecurities, anxiety, loneliness, and other issues that result from the broken relationship.
When individuals have the opportunity to resolve these experiences they are more able to move forward and prevent this hurt from affecting and hindering future relationships. Often, the individual who has been the victim of an affair is not ready to make the decision to stay or leave the relationship, so seeking help from a counselor for adultery works to identify and resolve emotions of helplessness, loss of control, and hurt. If the couple wants to work through the hurt and betrayal, counseling focuses on communication skills, rebuilding trust, and developing goals for the future to direct the couple providing hope for the future and restored love and intimacy.
Counseling When Children Are Affected By Infidelity
When there are children, we work with the parents to develop a healthy co-parenting relationship that provides for the ongoing developmental needs so the children to have loving and healthy relationships with both their parents. Children who experience the breaking of trust in their family also need the opportunity to voice their feelings. Confusion and self-blame are common reactions from children as they think “I could have been better then mom/dad would not have left”. While the family unit may not be restored, a child’s ability to learn to trust again and develop security in their situation is vital for future development and growth.
While some degree of stress and anxiety is normal and even healthy in everyday life, any time your daily functioning is affected, it is time to seek outside help. With more than 19 million people feeling the affects of extreme stress and anxiety each year, it is imperative to take control of the situation as soon as you recognize the symptoms. Counseling can offer specific therapies and skills to help you ease the tension in your life and allow you to function in what is inevitably, a stressful world.
Treatment and Counseling to Address Stress & Anxiety
Counseling for individuals dealing with the symptoms and affects of stress and anxiety, may include making life-style changes to reduce the level of stress you are experiencing. You may simply be trying to manage too much in your life and reprioritizing what you take on may be the start to living a healthier, less stressful life.
While it is important to determine if a change is possible that would reduce external stressful events, for example, downsizing your home to reduce the financial obligation and burden of debt, counseling also looks at how you react and respond to the stress in your life.
You may not feel able to change your life’s stressful circumstances and may instead internalize this loss of control over events experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or the need to maintain excessive order and control in other areas of life. Your counselor can work with you to address these feelings, so that when you are faced with a stressful or anxiety-provoking situation, you are able to manage in a healthy way rather than becoming overwhelmed with the situation. This may include setting healthy boundaries and setting realistic expectations for these situations.
Whether it is a matter of making specific changes to your life or situation, or to your reactions and responses to these events, your Anxiety Counselor is committed to identifying and resolving the areas resulting in the overwhelming stress and anxiety so that your may experience greater freedom and joy in life.
Are You Depressed?
Although it’s perfectly normal to be sad from to time to time, if you feel hopeless or unmotivated, are sleep deprived or have had changes in appetite, or recurrent thoughts of death, you could be developing some form of depression. As many as 18 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness. Left unchecked it can devastate all areas of your everyday life, including work, school, family relationships and friendships. When you are depressed, basic daily activities may seem too hard, and you may experience a loss of interest in many activities you once enjoyed.
The effects of depression are caused by the way the brain processes certain chemicals. Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, having a family member with a form of depression does not necessarily mean you will develop it. Depression can and does strike those in families with no previous history of it.
Many outside factors, such as: a major illness or loss of a loved one, difficult relationships or living situations, financial pressures, or job stress can trigger depression. Feelings of low self esteem, chronic pessimism and anxiety also can contribute to depression. Some depressions have also been linked to poor diet, food allergies, insomnia, or lack of exercise.
Many people try to deny that they are struggling with depression. They try to ignore the symptoms and tend to not seek treatment because they think they should be able to manage their mood by themselves. Denial only makes depression worse. Experts agree it is of utmost importance to seek treatment before depression tears you or your family apart.
Types of depression
Major depression: People who are severally depressed find theirability to work, eat, sleep, study and maintain healthy relationships is compromised, and they tend to not want to participate in the pleasurable activities they once enjoyed.
Dysthymia: is somewhat less disabling, while more chronic depression that keeps one from functioning well or from feeling good. It has many of the same symptoms as major depression, but not as severe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: (SAD) is a mood disorder that has been linked to seasonal variations of light and is most prevalent in winter months. Sufferers often benefit from increased exposure to artificial light or sunlight.
Bipolar Disorder: Also called manic-depressive disorder, is a less common form of depression. Characterized by either dramatic or gradually cycling mood changes, those with bipolar disorder can experience highs (mania) and lows (depression). In the depressed phase, one can have any or all of the symptoms of major depression. The manic phase impairs judgment, rational thinking, and appropriate social behavior.
Postpartum Depression: Purported to be triggered by hormonal shifts and/or lifestyle changes, postpartum depression can occur any time after giving birth. Feelings of fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mild anxiety are normal following giving birth, postpartum depression lasts longer than two weeks and has some or most of the symptoms of major depression.
Signs and symptoms of clinical depression:
• Overwhelming feelings of sadness
• Feeling of hopelessness and/or lack of worth
• Changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns
• Loss of energy and fatigue
• Trouble concentrating
• Increased irritability and anger
• Suicidal thoughts
• Changes in weight
• Withdrawal from family and friends, and/or loss of pleasure in things
First you should go see your medical doctor for a depression screening test and to rule out other possible physical problems. Your doctor will ask you questions to assess if you are clinically depressed. If you are found to have clinical depression, your doctor will prescribe anti-depressant medication. At that time you also should ask your doctor for a referral or authorization to see a licensed therapist. According to several studies, the most effective way to treat depression is a combination of therapy and anti-depressant medication.
Because not every person is the same biochemically, it is difficult for your physician to know exactly which medication will be most effective for your depression. You may have to try two or three medications--and perhaps see more than one therapist--over a period of several months to find the combination that will work best for you. The important thing is that you don’t give up. With patience and determination you absolutely can overcome your depression.
Do What is Good For You, Not What You Feel Like Doing:
Although you don’t feel like it, it’s extremely important to take good care of yourself. You need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, get regular cardiovascular exercise and sufficient sleep. Too Much sugar, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco all impact your brain’s ability to work properly, and can sabotage the effects of medication. It’s important to learn to identify and properly express your feelings as well as pay attention to your deeper spiritual needs. Healthy friends and family members can provide a helpful support system.
Find a Purpose:
Cultivate values and look for a purpose in life to guide you in decision-making and provide you with direction. Make goals attainable and break them down into steps to take to achieve them so you to see your life as having meaning.
Committed relationships are a vital part of our society. As Couples Counselors we diligently uphold the need to help build up strong, healthy relationships where commitment is fortified with love and intimacy. Through stable committed relationships, we build our families. In our changing culture, families are often exceedingly dynamic, from traditional to mixed, or single parent, the need for values-based counseling is greater today than ever before. Issues and concerns with our spouse and relatives can add additional challenges when it comes to resolving life’s complex problems.
Working with a Couples Counselor is Healthy!
Nearly all relationships could use some help. Think of a healthy relationship as a plant that needs continual attention to grow properly. Without water, light, food, pest control, etc., even hearty plants struggle to thrive and grow. Good Couples Counseling is like having a good gardener who has the knowledge and tools to keep plants thriving and is able to prune back the dead weight that keeps interfering with healthy plant growth. There is no shame, and no need to feel "guilty" about seeing a counselor.
How is a Couples Counselor Different?
Whereas individual counseling addresses the very personal aspects of ourselves, couples counseling takes into account the unique relationship and circumstances between two people. We are committed to counseling couples and families to address not only the people who are hurting, but also the relationships that connect each member of the group. Your counselor will come along side you with your family to resolve the underlying issues so the family is able to enjoy lasting healthy and rewarding relationships. Contrary to individual therapy where the person is the client, in couples therapy, the couple is the client. The counseling process works to bring healing to the relationship allowing individuals to better enjoy their family life.