Studies vary, but affairs for women range between 15-40% and for men 25-60%. Infidelity does not have to be the death sentence on a marriage. With the divorce rate at 50% -- and especially for couples with children -- I believe we need to rethink our relationships and when we choose to jump ship even if someone has cheated. No matter how dark things may be, I believe any marriage can be brought back to life after an affair.
An affair is a symptom of a marriage in distress. People do not choose to have affairs in healthy solid relationships. I tell my couples who are coping with the fallout of an affair to know that it won't be easy, but there is hope for recovering and creating a new marriage. There is no quick fix to repair the insecurity, mistrust and resentment that builds around this damaging event. It will take time -- months to years -- and the couple must have patience to deal with the disappointment and disillusionment along the road to healing. I explain to my couples that divorce takes more time, more energy and more money then properly and effectively dealing with the infidelity and what in the relationship lead the couple down this destructive path. If both partners want to save the marriage and keep the family together, professional therapy is always suggested to deal with an affair. Here are a few steps each partner must take:
THE UNFAITHFUL PARTNER
* Be honest about the affair. The cheater must talk in as much detail and answer all questions the betrayed partner poses to them.
* You must take full responsibility. Even if you were unhappy and have a list of reasons for the affair it was you that chose to step outside of the marriage.
* Express true remorse and do not minimize your actions.
* Act trustworthy. You must be able to account for your time away from your partner and express compassion for the difficult position they are in.
THE BETRAYED PARTNER
* Know and demand whatever it will take for you to heal the infidelity and begin to trust again.
* Make the choice to forgive. An infidelity is never forgotten. The memory can't be erased but the act can be forgiven and put in context of the unhealthy prior marriage.
* The betrayed must come to a place where they understand their part in the demise of the marriage before the affair.
Marriages that recover from the avalanche of an affair can become the most loving and connected marriages -- if each partner is committed to the process of this work. In time, the affair can fade into the background if both partners are deeply committed to understanding themselves and their relationship.
|Dr. Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and wonderfully exhausting two children.|