The aftermath of discovering a cheating affair is one of the most painful experiences couples undergo. It is challenging navigating couples counseling after one partner has been unfaithful. However, couples should try marriage counseling after such issues occur. It may appear impossible, but marriage counseling is the foundation of the recovery process to rebuild the marriage after cheating.
What Is Marriage Counseling?
It is a kind of psychotherapy that addresses problematic issues in marriages and relationships. When working with a marriage counselor, you can expect therapy to be solution-focused. Counseling helps married couples communicate better, stop conflicts from escalating, and improve their relationships. Marriage counselors offer therapy to facilitate the couple’s decision about rebuilding their relationship and understand what led them to discord.
A very popular method of marriage counseling is the Gottman method. This therapy focuses on four types of destructive behavior, nicknamed “the four horseman.” These behaviors are criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness. If your marriage counselor practices the Gottman method, you will focus on exploring areas of disagreement, identifying triggers, and finding tools to manage conflicts.
Besides the Gottman method, a marriage counselor may practice a variety of other therapies. These therapies are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion-focused therapy, solution-focused therapy, discernment counseling, imago relationship therapy, and narrative therapy.
Ask prospective marriage counselors what therapy they practice and see if it offers the solutions you need to fix the issue of cheating in a marriage.
What Happens During Couples Counseling After Cheating?
Counseling happens in face-to-face sessions. The couple sits down together with a marriage counselor and identifies the common problems they face in the relationship.
The couple meets with the counselor at least once per week. How long counseling takes depends on the severity of the damage and how the problems manifest. Most couples counseling lasts an average of 12 sessions, thereby categorized as short-term therapy. But a short length does not mean the therapy will be less effective. In fact, one study showed that 98 percent of clients of marriage and family counselors reported their therapy experience as good or excellent.
Why Do You Need Couples Counseling After Cheating?
20 to 40 percent of divorces can be attributed to affairs. While one person cheating may trigger the divorce, often there are issues in the marriage beforehand. A marriage counselor helps couples figure out the base issues and what leads to cheating.
Both People Have to Be Onboard to Heal as a Couple
There’s no simple fix for the pain that happens in an affair. It will take both partners’ time, patience, effort, and outside help from a couple’s counselor. If you’re trying to repair a relationship after cheating, it’s not enough for one partner to do the work. If both partners are not focused on fixing the relationship, then the relationship is likely to end.
It’s worth giving couples counseling a shot before deciding whether to separate or divorce. Marriage counselors use the following steps to allow couples to move on from cheating:
Discussing the Affair
There is no quick fix or easy way to discuss an affair. You will need to have an honest discussion with your spouse if you want to rebuild your trust and save your marriage. In this conversation, you will share all the details about your affair and clarify what has happened with the third party. You will also open up to your partner if you have ended the other relationship.
Sharing your Feelings about the Affair
Once your partner knows about the affair, the counselor allows both parties to discuss their feelings. Here, the couple explores the reasons behind the cheating. The counselor moderates the talk by probing the couple to continue talking. Marriage counseling offers a safe space for the couple to process those uncomfortable emotions.
Deciding on the Steps to take to Rebuild Trust
A counselor helps the couple decide what to do to rebuild their trust to save their marriage. The couples create a new agreement and understanding of their relationship. They then learn to establish boundaries with outside parties.
Cheating doesn’t have to spell doom for a relationship. A marriage counselor can help save your marriage, even after cheating. Talk to a professional and enroll in couples counseling to help recover your partner’s trust and marriage.