Marriage Counselling After an Affair

Marriage counselling is not a “he said / she said” fight with the counsellor acting as referee. Instead, it eliminates the roles of victor and victim by changing the conversation to a brief discussion of “he felt / she felt,” allowing both parties to express themselves freely and without judgment because there are no “right” or “wrong” feelings.

Note: It is not a counsellor’s job or place to tell a couple whether or not to stay together. If you feel your counsellor has an opinion on this matter and is not listening with a neutral ear, you should discuss it with him/her or consider looking for a new counsellor.

What You’ll Talk About Statistics show that a couple is more likely to remain married if an extramarital affair is explored through counselling. But that doesn’t mean that the affair is the only subject addressed during counselling. According to “Overview of Report of Survey on Extramarital Affairs” by Peggy Vaughan:

  • 59% of couples in counselling said that their sessions focused on general marital problems rather than the affair itself.
  • 23% of couples in counselling said that their therapist encouraged them to quickly cover highlights of the affair, then move on.

Counsellors work to help couples understand the nature of their relationship before, during, and now that the affair has ended. In a session, couples might explore questions including:

  • What does the extramarital involvement mean to you?
  • How was the affair discovered?
  • Is the discovery of the affair disrupting your normal patterns of eating, sleeping, working, etc.?
  • How do you and your spouse relate presently?
  • How was your marriage going before this discovery?
  • What are/were the stresses affecting you at this time … at that time?
  • What are your expectations of counselling?
  • What are your expectations for your relationship?
  • Are your goals realistic?

After the deception and lack of intimacy caused by an extramarital relationship, couples need to figure out how to relate to one another again. A therapist can help a husband and wife who feel they know longer know how to communicate, by helping to bridge gaps in understanding.

Rebuilding a relationship after infidelity requires certain skills — emotional “management techniques” — many of which may be unknown to the couple. The marriage counsellor acts as a “teacher,” showing the couple how to express and handle their feelings in healthy, constructive ways.

Physical Withdrawal
When a partner cheats, physical intimacy, just like verbal intimacy, is lost. A couple may have difficulty showing and accepting even simple affection from one another. This problem is intensified in the bedroom where the ability to be intimate can create tremendous strain. A therapist helps couples re-discover their intimate connections.



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