Infidelity can be hard to define but you can feel it when it's happening. Infidelity is not about sex, it's about betrayal. A betrayal of the couple’s commitment to one another. It’s an interpersonal trauma where the betrayed partner may experience symptoms akin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yet, infidelity is not the problem, it’s a symptom of the relationship’s dysfunction.
Infidelity can look like the Hollywood version of a sexual affair to the more subtle emotional infidelity of oversharing with a stranger online. Infidelity can serve as an attempt to save the relationship or passive attempt to end it. Infidelity can signal an inability to communicate unmet needs on the betrayer’s part. Infidelity can stem from family beliefs; sometimes it’s an addiction, although this etiology is open to debate.
That said, there is hope for the couple that experiences infidelity - even if it may not feel that way after its discovery. In my work with couples, I have witnessed more of a willingness toward working through the wounding than allowing infidelity to destroy the relationship. Sometimes the discovery of infidelity can actually strengthen the couple's bond. Unfortunately, a lot of couples don’t seek counseling and choose to separate instead, missing an opportunity for growth and re-connection.
I bring a number of interventions to the table when working with the betrayed and betrayer. I explore family of origin issues, attachment styles, communication and conflict resolution, the quality of the couple’s emotional connection, goal alignment, values and boundaries, to name a few. It’s challenging for both parties to move through the different stages of healing from infidelity. Having a safe space to honestly engage, rebuild trust and forgive can make healing from infidelity more of a possibility.