Extramarital Affairs

Practical suggestions for couples on how to cope with infidelity.

The common mistake I see is when the partner who was on the receiving end of the affair talks to children, relatives and friends about their spouse’s infidelity. It may feel good at the moment but you will probably regret it later when your relationship is back on track. It may be very awkward for both of you and the others to spend time together knowing about what happened. I suggest to sit down with your partner, no matter how painful it is, and agree on who should know and who shouldn’t. If both of you agree on that you will avoid unnecessary resentment later on.

End the affair as soon as possible and cut off all possible contact with the other party. This is a must if you want your relationship to survive the next few months which will be rocky even if you do end the affair. Sometimes, it is impossible to cut off all contact with the other party right away. For instance, you still work with them at the office. My suggestion is to start looking for another job as soon as possible. You partner needs to know that you are really serious about removing that person from your life.

Take time off work, put some extracurricular activities such as committees and other projects on hold and tend to your relationship. It may not be very pleasant at first but it will get better. Spending time together will help control anxiety and mistrust that is probably present in your relationship right now.

Usually the partner who was on the receiving end of the affair wants to know all the details about what happened. The other partner feels interrogated and tries to minimize it by providing superficial apologies and saying things like: “I have apologized so many times! Why can’t we just move on and start fresh?” The reality is that both of you need a great deal of patience right now. The person who had an affair needs to understand that they need to go patiently through all the questioning and feel the unpleasant consequences of your actions. This is the best way for you to avoid repeating it in the future. People who get off easy have a higher chance of having another affair in the future. If you are on the receiving end of the affair then you need to know that sometimes people in your situation regret asking about all the details. They say that they are traumatized even more after hearing details because now they can imagine it to the point of being traumatized by it. Of course, people react differently but you need to keep in mind that the answers are probably very unpleasant and even hurtful.

Make sure you provide your partner with temporary access to your phone, email and social media accounts. It is a good idea to have that kind of transparency for at least several months until some of the trust is back in your relationship.

Couples counselling is also helpful in understanding what happened in the relationship prior to the affair that possibly led to it. This helps prevent infidelity in the future. It is important to know that reconciliation does not mean forgiving and forgetting. Successful reconciliation means remembering what happened and changing the structure of the relationship to avoid future infidelity.

The Main Cause of Divorce

Infidelity is widely recognized as a significant factor leading to divorce in North America. The same observation applies to the couples in the City of Vaughan and other parts of the Greater Toronto Area. Research findings vary, with reported rates of extramarital affairs ranging from 15% to 40% for women and 30% to 47% for men.

Couple and family therapists have noted that dealing with the aftermath of infidelity poses considerable challenges for both married and common law couples, as well as for dating couples. However, our experience suggests that when both partners are committed to addressing the affair and rebuilding trust within the relationship, the success rate of recovering from an extramarital affair, or any other form of infidelity, is quite high. This is especially true if the couple is working with a competent marriage counsellor or couples therapist.

An extramarital affair inflicts deep wounds at the very heart of a relationship, eroding trust in its wake. One partner invariably bears the brunt of the emotional injury. If the couple wishes to salvage their relationship, it is beneficial for the injured partner to embark on the journey of forgiveness, aiming to release hurt feelings and resentment. However, it is important to note that while forgiveness can be a potent tool for overcoming the consequences of infidelity, it does not guarantee reconciliation. In some cases, even after forgiveness, partners choose to part ways. More often than not, with the support of an experienced therapist, couples opt to remain together and embark on the path of rebuilding the trust that was once lost.

Extramarital Affairs Counselling

What We Focus On

In our work with couples, we do not support affair counselling when one partner is unwilling to end an ongoing affair. We believe that it is counterproductive to the process of rebuilding trust and, from our experience, it does not produce positive results. We ask the couple to end any ongoing communication with the third party in order to invest their time and energy into their relationship.

We focus on two necessary aspects of recovery from an extramarital affair. First, we help the couple process the underlying feelings of hurt, anxiety, shame and guilt that usually accompany the aftermath of an affair. This process helps the couple reconnect and restore genuine affection in the relationship. Second, it is important to process what made the couple vulnerable to an affair in the first place. This includes an in-depth analysis of their relationship dynamics and patterns of communication. From our experience, the whole process takes two to three months, on average.

If you are dealing with the consequences of an extramarital affair, remember that there is hope. With competent professional help couples usually overcome the devastation and work through the affair.

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We assess your relationship at the beginning and at the end of the process in order to have a treatment plan and see real progress.