Infidelity: Crisis and Call for Change

Research (Gottman, 2009) shows men ages 55-65 are most likely to have affairs and women ages 40 – 45. Other risk factors (not cause) include making more than $30,000 annually, higher status, moderate to low marital satisfaction,  and travel for occupation.  Religion is NOT a protective factor in marriages with low marital satisfaction. Typically, 25 – 30% of marriages in counseling have been marked by an affair.

It is devastating and undeniably painful given that trust is broken, love and admiration are crushed, and it feels impossible to sort out. Possiblly worst of all, the faithful partner now desires to flee the person who hurt them, however; needs comfort AND while the faithful person may desire to seek comfort from the unfaithful partner; they cannot.  This may create a sense of disorganization, especially if the faithful partner has a trauma history from early caregiving they received or other betrayals from intimate partners.

Treatment can help. Initially, the person who had the affair must be willing to disclose all the details in answering the faithful partners’ questions, cut off all contact with the other person, and be willing to rebuild a different marriage. For the faithful partner, it means understanding this is a trauma and as such, Post Trauma Stress Disorder Symptoms are common such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, numbing, hyper-arousal, anxiety, panicky feelings, and an inability to think about anything else.  The faithful partner needs the freedom to express feelings, freedom to ask any questions and have them answered directly and honestly, and be wiling to rebuild a different marriage. The straying partner needs to be willing to be honest, open, and accepting.

And that is just the beginning. While not all marriages can survive the aftermath of infidelity, many survive and thrive;  having a renewed friendship, increased awareness and ability to comfort each other, and deeper emotional intimacy. Click here to make an appointment request or call 608-785-7000 x221 for an appointment with a marriage expert.