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.
Dear Gary and Sue,
Here are some of the things you need to ‘do' to help you as a couple heal your broken relationship:
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.
3. Do be patient with your partner when he repeatedly asks you the question ‘why'.
4. Do the right thing and cut off contact with the other party.
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.