The manner in which couples recover from infidelity issues will depend in large part on their cultural background and their personal or religious values surrounding infidelity. Many couples pursue therapy to determine whether or not to continue the relationship after an affair and to process their feelings surrounding the incident.
A therapist can serve as a supportive listener as each partner expresses his or her emotions regarding the infidelity issues and can help the couple determine their needs and future goals for the relationship, whether they choose to maintain or end it. If the couple wishes to maintain the relationship, a therapist can assist them by helping each partner discover his or her level of commitment to the relationship, teaching the partners skills for repairing trust, and guiding the couple through the process of healing.
A therapist can also help clarify the true nature of the relationship by encouraging an open evaluation of the relationship’s strengths and weaknesses. If unhealthy patterns exist, such as codependency, emotional abuse, or repeated affairs, the therapist may call these into question. In addition, therapy can help those people who feel they are to blame for the infidelity of their partners to work through those feelings and obtain new perspectives.
When a couple decides to end the relationship, a therapist can still be of assistance to both parties. The partner who was betrayed may find it beneficial to discuss his or her feelings of inadequacy, betrayal, and anger, and a therapist can also assist in helping him or her cope with the trauma of the loss of a partner. The partner who committed the infidelity issues may feel regret and wish to understand what caused him or her to pursue an affair. If the individual had an affair after realizing the relationship was not satisfying, for example, a therapist can help him or her determine ways to communicate feelings of dissatisfaction more effectively so that he or she does not repeat the behavior.