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Acute Couples Counselling Couples Counselling

Can my relationship recover from an affair?

With an estimated 23% of partners admitting to cheating, is it time for us to positively address infidelity in relationships? 

There is no doubt about it – relationships can be tough.

The thrill and excitement you felt in the early stages of dating might have diminished with time, while life pressures and over-familiarity with your spouse can create tensions or resentments.

Does this sound familiar? 

You or your partner might react to home and relationship stressors by having an affair. And this isn’t as uncommon as you might think. A survey conducted between 2017 and 2018 spanning almost 50,000 Danes, an average of 9,000 respondents admitting to cheating. 

For some, the discovery of infidelity is enough to end the relationship. But for many others, a way forward is possible. 

I offer hope to you and your partner if you wish to repair the rupture in your relationship after the discovery of infidelity.

What is ‘infidelity’?

Definitions matter when describing infidelity. A 2-year affair does not manifest, nor have the same impact, as a one-night-stand does. Did you know that an emotional affair can damage more than a  physical one? 

Universally, an infidelity (in any form) is a fundamental betrayal of the other partner in the relationship.

When discovered, it causes immense pain, guilt, anger, shame, distrust and confusion.  Research has also shown a causative link between infidelity and poor mental health, domestic violence and divorce. 

If you have discovered infidelity in your relationship or you yourself are being unfaithful, you might ask yourself;

  • Why would my partner do this to me?
  • Why have I done this to my partner?
  • How am I ever going to trust him/her again?
  • What is wrong with me that they would feel they need to do this?
  • What does that third person have that I don’t?
  • How do we repair this? 
  • What about our children / apartment / future together? 
  • Can therapy help with this problem?

What’s important to understand is that you do not have to suffer alone. There is a safe and constructive way to explore these questions and find a way forward – couples therapy

Your relationship needs an impartial professional who can help you unpack the relevant aspects of the relationship and identify a) what brought you to this point, b) where you’d like to go from here and c) how you’re going to get there. 

I will help guide the conversation through exploring the rupture, sharing the pain and finally mapping out how to take positive action and bring responsibility and shared care to the relationship, and to the individuals involved. Finally, we may look at the role the “other” person has had in the rupture, and how to bring meaning back into the relationship, this time without betrayal and shame. 

Why do we cheat?

When you discover an affair, your first question is often – why? 

I can see why you might want an instant answer to that question – but infidelity is complicated. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ reason why it occurs. The reasons for unfaithfulness are multifaceted and unique to your relationship. That’s the whole point of couples therapy – together, we look at your particular circumstances and identify what happened within your relationship. 

Research conducted by Barta, W. D., & Kiene, S. M. (2005) identified the following possible motivations for unfaithfulness, some of which you may be able to identify with:

  • A need for variety:  74% of research respondents identified a desire for variety after feeling that the relationship has stagnated. 
  • Neglect: 70%of respondents said that feeling neglected was a partial driver in causing the infidelity. 
  • Low self esteem: 57% of respondents said that cheating on their partner helped boost their self esteem. 
  • Lack of commitment: 41% said low levels of commitment towards their partner caused them to cheat. 
  • Lack of sex: 32% said that lack of sex, sexual issues or sexual disalignment caused them to look elsewhere for sexual fulfilment. 

Furthermore, it’s important to know that certain contributing factors will increase the likelihood of infidelity, such as having an insecure attachment style, having a material or immaterial addiction, perhaps displacing a challenge from work. The hardest reason to spot can be the accumulation of the “blah-di-blahs”; a slow and steady pile-up of small occurrences that cause the intimacy in the relationship, initially strong, to slow down, fragment and break. Think of a river that flows freely and strongly to the ocean, full of well oxygenated water, plants and a varied animal life. Slow, the source of the river silts up, and the flow slows. Further downriver, new bends and curvatures add to the silting process, bringing the once roaring mouth of the river to a mere trickle. The river is slowly suffocated by other intruding natural forces. 

So, where is the water that once flowed freely in the relationship? 

Water always finds the path of least resistance, and “comes out” or “shows up” in the strangest of places.

A spark, such as a caring gesture from a colleague, or a flirt with an old friend at that get-together party can suddenly bring an eruption of water springing forward – the affair is ignited, and with it can come fiery feelings of passion, release, recognition and support in the infidelic partner, plus the thrill / guilt pattern of breaking a taboo. 

In my experience, there are four major influences that can bring a relationship to its knees. These are money, sex, power and culture. Read more about the big 4.

Since 2004 couples have found healing to their relationships and rediscovered their intimate partners by overcoming infidelity with my help. Oftentime, infidelity is a symptom of far deeper relationship issues and this does not need to define your relationship. By bringing these issues to consciousness in a safe and positive way I can help your relationship develop great depths of intimacy. 

Getting the support you need

I offer you acute couples counselling, couples therapy and individual psychotherapy based on your preferences, either online, at your place, or at my clinics in Østerbro or Svendborg.

We can also go for a walk.

My pledge

Whichever help and support you need, my pledge to you is consistent.

Next step

Book a free 15 minute conversation, which is all you need to begin your journey. We will talk about where you are now, where you want to be, and how I can help you get there.