Adultery – How Do We Heal A Broken Relationship?

Adultery is a confronting word, and one that we tend to avoid in our post-modern society. It is a harsh, incriminating word descriptive of an act that can have devastating consequences on a marriage relationship and family life.

Gary and Sue have decided to try Marriage Counselling to repair their broken relationship as a result of Sue's adultery. She sits with her body turned away from Gary, her head bowed, silenced by Gary's anger and her own shame. Gary's anger is barely contained as is his need to know ‘why'. Sue says that she ‘doesn't know'  but that she is ‘sorry' and just wants them to ‘get over it and move on'. Unfortunately that is easier said than done.

 Repairing a relationship after adultery has to be a shared task. It can feel very justified to  blame your partner for the adultery however when you each get stuck in the blame game, resentment grows and the relationship becomes either a passive aggressive bond or marked by outright hostility with neither person feeling happy or secure.
So how can Gary and Sue move forward together? I have written a letter to Sue and Gary as a follow up to their first couple counselling session, to reinforce the work we have done together and remind each of them as to what they need to work on for their relationship to move forward. As you read it, I invite you to put your own name in the appropriate place.

 

Dear Gary and Sue,

Here are some of the things you need to ‘do' to help you as a couple heal your broken relationship:

Sue,

1. Do take responsibility for your behaviour.

Gary  feels betrayed and deeply wounded. The expectation that as a couple you can ‘get over it and move on' is ultimately an unrealistic one. You need to have genuine insight and empathy into the devastating impact of the adultery on Gary. I have observed that where the person who committed the adultery is able to acknowledge and own responsibility for their behaviour the relationship has more chance of repair.

2. Do understand that your partner will take time to trust you again.

 He  is going to be suspicious and question your movements. To not be trusted and have to give explanation as to your movements is a frustrating experience but one that is necessary as the relationship repairs. Your relationship can no longer be taken for granted. Any security Gary experienced has been destroyed. He is likely to be feeling insecure in the relationship, angry, resentful, vengeful and he has  a right to be!

 3. Do be patient with your partner when he repeatedly asks you the question ‘why'.

It is a confronting question and a complex one. Gary is trying to understand the adultery and your explanations will invariably not be enough. Only time, honest communication and patient tolerance will ease the pain. Gary is needing constant reassurance. Try not to begrudge him. Your actions have had a devastating impact.

4. Do the right thing and cut off contact with the other party.

If this is not possible then talk to Gary about how to come up with a strategy that you are both comfortable with and that will serve to protect your relationship from further damage. Your willingness to do this sends the message to Gary that you truly want to repair your relationship.

 

Gary,

1. Do  continue  to talk  about how you feel.

A marriage betrayal and its emotional impact is not unlike grief. You have experienced a devastating loss and it takes time to process. Couple counselling is a great first step. If you feel the need to continue to talk about your feelings, it may be valuable for you to have an individual session where you can explore the full gamut of your emotional experience. I encourage you to find other ways to express what you feel – journaling, art or a very physical activity that allows some of the pent up energy to be released are all helpful ways of dealing with your emotion.

2. Do be aware that your distrust of your partner is normal and indicative of trust that has been betrayed.

Sue needs to earn your trust again before your own anxiety can settle however if you become preoccupied with Sue's every movement, she may push you away due to feeling overwhelming  guilt  and the loss of individual freedom she is now experiencing.  If you can see that Sue is making an effort to heal the relationship, give her space to do so. It is a balancing act between one person having to prove that they are trustworthy and the other person giving the opportunity to earn their trust again.

A final word to you both:

Couple Counselling is a space where  you can explore your relationship and the factors that have contributed to Sue's adultery together. It is an opportunity to revisit why you want to be to together and what you need to do to nurture and grow your relationship so that it is secure and satisfying for you both. In the mean time, set aside some time each week to do something that you both enjoy. Agree that this time will not be occupied by your problems but be about the things that you share in the present and what you would like your relationship to look like in the future.
 If you want to grow, experience wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.
 *Any content in this post is not based on person's  dead or alive. Any similarities are coincidental and not based on any particular person or circumstance.

Comments

  1. Adultery is a painful issue on couples.I’ve been through it.It hurts but I must accept that life must go on for I have a son that depends on me.I’m glad that my husband decided to resolve all the problems in our marriage and decided to work our relationship again.

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