Infidelity hits a marriage like a violent storm, and marriage counseling is a tool that helps spouses pick up the scattered pieces. When an affair comes out into the open, the people in the marriage go through a cycle of feelings. The cheater often feels guilt, shame, defensiveness and dread. The other partner can experience anger, sadness, confusion, self-doubt and sometimes numbness or dissociation. The person who has been cheated on may cycle through such feelings several times a day. That is where marriage counseling comes in. A compassionate therapist provides a neutral party to guide the couple through expressing thoughts, feelings, grievances, hopes and fears. The marriage counselor helps clients to sort through these issues, both as individuals and as a couple, helping both people to make a measured, honest decision about how to move on from infidelity.
The role of the therapist during marriage counselingMuch of the work the couple does in marriage counseling can be described in one word: unpacking. The couple has to sort through individual feelings on an individual level. They have to examine their marriage from all angles, taking an honest take on the aspects that work and the dynamics (poor communication, financial strain, emotional disconnect) that hurt the relationship. The cheating partner has to take stock and identify the things inside that led to the cheating behavior. Those things can range from personality traits to stress to dissatisfaction with the state of the marriage. The aggrieved partner also has to self-evaluate, examining themselves and the marriage in a calm environment, which can help them decide how to move forward with the relationship. At this point, the marriage counselor usually works with the couple to help make a long-term goal as far as the marriage is concerned. Many couples decide to work through the marital problems. Many others decide to call it quits, but only after a marriage counselor guides them towards making a tempered decision that is free from impulse and emotion.
What to expect from the first session with a marriage counselorAn effective marriage counselor strives to create a safe environment for both parties in a couple. The couple should feel at ease soon after they sit down with the counselor. The marriage counselor is intended to act as an impartial, non-judgmental but honest sounding board for the couple to work through the causes and effects of infidelity. During the first session, there are several goals:
- The marriage counselor will make a connection with the person who was cheated on, helping to make this person feel heard and understood.
- At the same time, the counselor can be kind and non-judgmental with the person who cheated, such that this partner also feels safe to express feelings.
- The counselor can hear the couple’s thoughts and feelings about the affair while teaching the couple to communicate and share in an honest but constructive way.
- Finally, the marriage counselor attempts to move the conversation towards the goals that the couple wants to achieve from counseling.
Like an ailing person, marriages need help sometimesA marriage in trouble is not as tangible as a broken leg, but it may need help, just like the leg. If you are struggling, do not try to ‘power through’ an affair or throw in the towel without trying marriage counseling. The guidance of a neutral third party can help you work through things and make a good decision in the end.
Request an appointment here: http://flourishcounseling.com or call Flourish Counseling & Coaching at (303) 455-3767 for an appointment in our Denver office.