Infidelity is Traumatic
No one but you knows the pain you are in right now. It is unique to the two of you. We understand some of what you are going through. Being betrayed is traumatic. Being the betrayer brings overwhelming shame. Infidelity is traumatic for both of you.
In our lives we have experienced and perpetrated our own betrayals, and we have sought to make direct amends wherever possible.
You are probably questioning everything in your life right now. Possibly doing a "post-mortem" on the story of your relationship so far, looking for all the lies. You may be questioning reality, and may feel unhinged. The good things in your story seem distant and small. Every small pain of the past seems larger now than it did then, amplified by the pain you feel right now.
Even in your immense pain, you are brave souls at the start of a shaky journey toward uncertain healing. Immense wrongs must be atoned for. Trust must be restored, and amends made. There is hope. We can guide you on the road ahead.
Our Approach to Infidelity Counseling
We integrate the methods of the American Association for Sex Addiction Therapy, Gottman Institute, and International Association of Trauma Professionals into a three phase, nine step model that we call The Journey From Brokenness to Restoration.
In this Road Map it is important to know that no step is ever truly complete. Just as you first build a house and then it must be maintained; so you will first "build" each step, and then "maintain" each step.
Phase One: Empowering healing from Infidelity
Step One: Understanding moves the couple from a state of confusion to clarity.
No affair starts with seeking sex. All affairs start with a lack of attunement, a critical skill in relationships. In your pain right now you are wondering how this happened. How did it start? How did it build? Why didn't you know?
Step Two: Disclosure moves the couple from secrecy to integrity.
Secrets poison trust. Disclosure of facts without details is critical to restoration of trust. The betrayed partner needs to know the facts. Details will only multiply pain. This is a fine line, and it may feel like dancing on a razor's edge.
Step Three: Responsibility moves the couple from destructive autonomy to accountability.
Destructive or inadequate coping skills are what led to the affair. To restore trust, make amends, and build a new attachment, you must learn new habits. For these habits to take root in your life, you will need accountability and support.
Knowing which habits to focus on and understanding their importance and impact will move you into phase two.
Phase Two: Restoration from Infidelity
Phase one focused on what you know, understand, and accept. Phase two will focus on doing things differently, and on the emotional impact of doing things differently on your relationship.
Step Four: Availability moves the couple from being mentally and emotionally absent to being present.
Before the affair there was an emotional disconnect. This step is where healing that disconnect begins. Nothing is certain, and healing is painful for both the betrayer and the betrayed. And healing is worth it.
Step Five: Responsiveness moves the couple from being aloof to being responsive.
Simply being available is not enough. It is critical for our key relationships that we are willing to listen without an agenda, and willing to be wrong.
Fear of responding in the wrong way often keeps addicts from taking any action or saying anything. Defensiveness of past wrongs also creates distance in key relationships.
Step Six: Engagement moves the couple from being preoccupied to being helpful.
Part of listening without an agenda is learning to draw others out. We must be curious about their emotions and experiences. We must be supportive of their unique journey through life.
Phase Three: Relationships after Infidelity
Step Seven: Identity moves the couple from a place of insecurity to confidence.
There is a symbiosis that goes on between our key relationships and our individual identity. When our relationships are unstable, so is our identity. When our identity is insecure, so are our relationships.
As your healing progresses, you will become more secure in your own identity.
Step Eight: Family moves the couple from feeling unloved to a secure sense of being loved.
As your family adjusts and responds to your new way of life, you start to feel loved unconditionally. Past love may have felt conditional or performance based. Getting to this point in the process takes a lot of work. Its foundation is all the steps that came before it. That foundation cannot be built once and then forgotten. It must be maintained.
Step Nine: Community moves the couple from feeling isolated to feeling integrated in the community.
Experiencing Community brings facts and feelings into alignment. What we know matches what we feel, most of the time. This is where your individual communities of family, faith, and work most benefit from the work you have done on this healing journey. They do not necessarily need to know what you have been through.