Why is marriage counseling crucial after your spouse has an affair

When you got married, you made vows to each other to love and care for each other until death, or in some religions, for eternity. A spouse having an affair is a major breach of these vows. The person being cheated on will probably have feelings of betrayal along with a huge blow to their self esteem and difficulty in being able to trust their partner again. Their first instincts when they found out may have been to ask intimate questions about their partner’s affair, such as “how good was she in bed?” or “what did she do in bed that I didn’t”. If the partner answered these questions, this could have fuelled the imagery that is undoubtedly going on in the cheated on partner’s mind, and cause them further feelings of inadequacy and betrayal and further enrage them.
These are some major hurdles to overcome. Without some sort of help from a counsellor, psychologist, or at least a very emotionally intelligent and intuitive friend, a couple will find it very difficult to work through the feelings.
On top of this is the reason the person who had the affair cheated in the first place. People give a myriad of reasons for cheating, from “it just happened, she seduced me”, to “you weren’t paying attention to me and I felt left out of your life”. Though there is no reason that can excuse the behaviour, how the person felt still needs to addressed. If it isn’t, then you have done nothing to prevent this behaviour from reoccurring.
It’s hard to work through the causal feelings of the cheater without addressing the consequential feelings of the cheated on. When couple’s decide to try to save their relationship, without help, it can often be disastrous. Despite the cheated on wanting to save the relationship, he/she will often be wondering why their partner is working late, why is he/she taking so long at the store, who was calling or texting him/her. It’s so hard for them to rebuild that trust. The partner who cheated will tolerate this behaviour for a while out of guilt, but it will soon start to wear on them. They will start to feel like they have to be constantly wary of their behaviour, and constantly alert that the smallest thing they do could be taken out of context.
It is also quite human for someone who has been badly hurt emotionally to want to inflict that same amount of hurt on the person who hurt them. Many people who have been cheated on state that their partner can’t understand just how much pain they have caused. They may behave in a way that will punish their cheating partner in an attempt to show them how much pain they have endured, though they may not be doing this consciously.
So with all of these emotions going on in the cheated on person, it’s hard to even address the cheaters concerns of what was wrong in their relationship in the first place.
A counsellor can act as a mediator, allowing both partners to have a say, and making sure the other acknowledges what is said. The counsellor can help to keep emotions and imagination from running wild by getting each partner to clarify what they’ve said. They can help people to understand why they are feeling the way they are, and find strategies to deal with or overcome those feelings. They can give couples tools for rebuilding trust in their relationship. It will never be an instant fix, but counselling is definitely a good idea if you both really want to save your marriage after an affair.

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