Marriages Can Survive Infidelity

Marriages Can Survive Infidelity.  Affairs can heal broken marriages and even reveal relationship dysfunction. Author and Sex Therapist Tammy Nelson and respected Colleague provides a 3-step process for Recovering from Infidelity that I implement in working with my Couples in Marriage Counseling that is highly effective in helping them move forward.  As a Marriage Counselor who specializes in Affair Recovery I am often asked “can marriages survive infidelity?”  I always answer, “I believe so, as long as both parties are willing to commit to the process of Affair  Recovery.”

Marriages Can Survive Infidelity

I’ll share a couple’s process I’m currently working with but have obviously changed their names to adhere to confidentiality.  I started working with Diana 4 months ago who came into therapy with her husband Steve, for couples therapy after he caught her cheating. They’ve been married for 8 years.  He has expressed feelings of hurt, disappointment, anger and of course, betrayal.  He sat on my sofa with his head in his hands saying, “I can’t believe she did this and how are we going to get past this?  Diana says she wants to work this out, but I don’t know if we can put this marriage back together again after what I’ve done and I don’t know if I even want to work this out.”

Steve apparently read emails and texts between Diana and her Affair Partner (boyfriend) that suggested how much they were enjoying participating in cybersex together. This was no doubt devastating to Steve.  He thought their sex life was good, but knew having children affected their relationship in that they spent more time with the kids than with each other.  He believed they still loved each other and and Diana agreed.  They didn’t know why the affair happened and wanted to salvage what they could of their marriage.

Affair Recovery has three phases:  The Crisis Phase, The Insight Phase and The Vision Phase.

The Crisis Phase – Is right after the affair is disclosed or discovered, when couples are in acute distress and their lives are in total chaos.  The focus of therapy isn’t on whether or not to stay together or if there is a future for them, as it is to:

  1. Establish safety
  2. Address painful feelings
  3. Normalize trauma symptoms

The Insight Phase – Is where whatever vulnerabilities are talked about that might have led to the affair.

  1.  As individuals become observers of the affair they can tell the story of what happened.
  2. Repeating endless details of sexual indiscretion is not helpful and counterproductive.
  3. Looking at what the Affair Partner longed for and couldn’t find in the marriage is important.
  4. Looking for what the Affair Partner looked for outside the marriage is essential.
  5. Finding Empathy for the Hurt Partner, who obviously was clueless, can make a shift in how both partners see the affair and what it meant in their relationship.

The Vision Phase – This phase includes seeking a deeper understanding of the meaning of the affair and helping the couple with the Moving Forward process.

  1. This phase is where the couple decides whether to move on separately or stay together.
  2. Here they acquire tools to develop a relationship built on what the couple Want from each other to be happy and content for their future.
  3. As their sex life has been destroyed this is where the Erotic Recovery work for connection will be renewed (or created) and desire will be revived.
  4. Monogamy changes from a moralistic, blanket prohibition on outside sex to a search for a deeper intimacy inside the marriage.
  5. A vision of the relationship going forward includes negotiating a new commitment; hence a New Monogamy with contractual agreements.

Marriages Can Survive Infidelity

So my client, Diana, revealed she felt that she had no space of her own in the marriage. Her husband had a home office, but she had no comparable space for herself.  Her dependence on him was all encompassing as he paid the bills, earned the money, and gave her a monthly allowance.  She’d never been encouraged to or allowed to feel empowered and independent.  As a result, she’d started rebelling against him like an adolescent against a strict parent, sneaking around having sexual encounters.

In the insight phase of treatment Diana realized that the affair had to do more with her marriage than with her husband.  She said she loved him and wanted to stay with him only if it could become more of an equal partnership.  We worked to identify the key areas where  she could feel more autonomy and still be in a relationship.  Steve started to appreciate her more as she was able to take on more responsibilities within the household and take some of the burden off his shoulders.

During the 25 years of providing Marriage Counseling with infidelity and affair recovery as my niche, my belief is that even after the heart wrenching pain of an affair, we have the opportunity to help create new relationships with better communication, deeper intimacy, and realistic hope for moving forward.


If you would like help with the healing process of Infidelity and Affair Recovery please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or email me at


Couples and Valentine’s Day What To Do And What Not To Do

Couples and Valentine’s Day What To Do And What Not To Do. Valentine’s Day is that special time where lovers have the opportunity to express their fond felt emotions toward one another.  Marriage Counseling brings about many discussions about disappointing Valentine’s Days. Often times expectations aren’t met and emotions come up that need to be shared so individuals can know what to expect for future event planning.


Couples and Valentine’s Day What To Do And What Not To Do:

1.  Forgetting About The “Day”

Acknowledge the day.  The world around us will be surrounding ourselves with pink hearts, red roses, and chocolate candy.  Don’t make your partner feel left out.  Validate their existence and show how they make you feel during this day of Love.

2.  Just Showing Up At A Restaurant

Make sure you have a dinner reservation.Valentine’s Day is the busiest night of the year. If you don’t have a reservation you chance not getting into a restaurant of your choice or can wait over an hour to be seated which isn’t very romantic, shows poor planning on your part, and makes for an unpleasant evening.

3.  Having Other Engagements

Keep your calendar clear that day. Even if you plan on working for just a few more minutes on a project, you can run into a time crunch and become late for your evening plans and create unhappy feelings toward your partner. Eliminate any risk of things that could interfere with a successful outcome.

4.  Avoiding Discussion About Overwhelming Gifts

Even though you may feel strongly about your loved one, especially if you are still in the “New Love Phase” of your relationship, it would be good to talk about appropriate gifts of affection so that one partner doesn’t go overboard when the other may plan on doing something simple.  This eliminates any embarrassment, hurt feelings or awkwardness because one of you is feeling like what they contributed wasn’t enough.  Even if the day is a surprise, it would be good to talk beforehand, in terms of a general feel about your Valentine’s Day plans. That way both can of you can enjoy the experience and eliminate unhappy or guilty feelings.

5.  Buying into Marketing Messages

You don’t have to spend tons of money to show your love and affection. It’s not about getting the biggest bouquet of flowers or most expensive box of candy.  Even jewelry doesn’t have to send you over your credit limit.  It’s about showing your loved one behaviorally, what they mean to you. Enhance the experience by expressing thankfulness and appreciation, as well, as you spend your special time together.

And remember love and romance isn’t just for Valentine’s Day….keep the “in-love” behavior ongoing and you’ll continue to feel like being “in-love.”

If you want to learn more about how to do that, call me now at (858) 735-1139.


Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity

Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity.  Couples who come in to see me after a breach of trust due to some kind of infidelity; whether they were caught having intimate conversations with an old high school sweetheart online, new friend from a chatroom, or having a full blown sexual affair, ask the question “how can I ever trust my partner after what they did?”  In Marriage Counseling people who have experienced infidelity talk constantly about the need for trust and want to learn to trust that their partners won’t stray again.

In rebuilding trust the more the couple talks about the affair and what they learned about it the better the chances are for their relationship to move forward.  I know, that sounds counterintuitive in that nobody wants to talk about it as much as they want to put it behind them.  When the Hurt Partner brings up their feelings of hurt, anger and mistrust, it is recommended that the Affair Partner exercise a process where they show empathy and validate those feelings so the Hurt Partner feels heard and understood.  Empathy is a very powerful tool in regaining trust for someone who has betrayed you.  Showing empathy rather than becoming defensive or offering excuses for your inappropriate behavior shows the Hurt Partner you are truly remorseful as the Affair Partner is not concerned about caretaking their own feelings or defending their actions.  It shows a good change in character to be concerned with someone other than themselves when they stop defending their affair and validate and show empathy for their partner who they have caused distress.

In Marriage Counseling I help couples learn a process that includes Reflective Listening, Validation, and Empathy to help with developing an emotional connection to reach a deeper level of intimacy to be able to want to trust again.

Through the process of affair recovery rebuilding trust after infidelity can be restored if both parties are sincere about making the necessary individual changes to move the relationship in the desired direction.

For more information about rebuilding trust and affair recovery please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

Overcoming Codependency – Stop Being A Chameleon

Overcoming Codependency – Stop Being A Chameleon.  Just Be Yourself.  Some don’t know how to do that. Do you find yourself constantly trying to please other people? Do you seek their approval? Do you like the label people pleaser? Do you know that most people pleasers are not happy people.  Being a people pleaser can be exhausting and they can become a resentful and angry person.  Most of us were raised not to be selfish and help those in need.  That’s a good thing if you’re able to place appropriate boundaries and set good limits in order to do so.  Some people don’t know the difference between being helpful and being Codependent.

A working definition of Codependency is an “Underdeveloped self esteem (dysfunctional boundaries) combined with an inappropriate caring for others (invading a boundary), and an inappropriate reliance on another’s response (having poor boundaries), in a negatively reinforcing loop”. In “Codependency for Dummies” Darlene Lancer defines it as someone “who can’t function from his or her innate self, and instead, organizes thinking and behavior around a substance, process, or other person(s),” thus all addicts are included.  Codependents are caring people, and there is nothing wrong with nurturing; we are meant to be interdependent.  Just a little self-examination, and redirection, may have you on a more fulfilling path.

Some symptoms of Codependency include:

  • Overfunctioning or doing more than your fair share
  • Having bad thoughts about yourself
  • Tolerating bad behavior to avoid being alone
  • Taking responsibility for other people’s bad behavior
  • Becoming upset when people don’t take your advice
  • Getting caught up in other people’s drama
  • Putting yourself down so as to bring someone up
  • Feeling of not being good enough
  • Having an addict, abuser or narcissist in your life
  • Approval seeking, or people pleasing
  • Fear of being alone or abandoned
  • Feeling selfish, or guilty for not meeting the needs of others
  • Saying “yes” when you really mean “no”

Codependency often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.  When you lose your Sense of Self because you are doing too much for others you become an angry person who may present with Depressed symptoms not to mention physical ailments.  It is recommended to talk to someone who can help sort out what is healthy behavior in a relationship and what is Codependency.  In Couples Counseling or Marriage Counseling I refer to individuals who experience some Codependent symptoms as Cameleons because they tend to become whoever it is they are in the present company of.  They tend to overfunction and take on too much responsibility for others in their life becoming resentful and angry people as those people tend to underfunction making life for the Codependent exhausting and frustrating.  I always thought Chameleons change color in response to their environment. However, after doing some research it seems they change color based on temperature, light intensity, and mood.  In the same respect Codependents can appear like Chameleons in that they change to accommodate who they are with rather than just be who they are

If you are experiencing unhappy feelings in most of your relationships you may be exercising some codependent behaviors. Treatment for codependency will enlighten you on how to give and live well, without guilt or fear. In counseling you learn much more than just saying “no” to others. You’ll learn how to say “yes” to yourself independently and interdependently to develop healthy relationships.

For more information about how to start concentrating on yourself and getting your own needs met so you can have more appropriate relationships, please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

What Is Erotic Recovery?

What Is Erotic Recovery?  An essential part of helping Couples move forward in Affair Recovery is the restoration of Erotic Recovery.  Infidelity and affairs cause Erotic Injury to the relationship.  Erotic Injury is where the Hurt Partner experiences an undermining of erotic confidence due to the infidelity creating damage between both parties. According to Dr. Tammy Nelson, author of The New Monogamy, feelings of anger, rejection, and deep insecurity can emerge around your sexual relationship. During this time reentering that intimate space could be really scary as it takes time to heal.


The goal of Erotic Recovery is a significant part of healing from the affair because it addresses basic relationship needs to be erotically and intimately connected.  During the process in which two people are trying to heal from a partner’s infidelity you may no longer feel attracted to your partner, or feel that your partner doesn’t find you attractive. This attraction of sensuality and sexuality isn’t just rooted in our genitals, it originates in our minds through our emotions and in our feelings of trust.  If you can’t trust your partner you certainly aren’t going to feel an erotic connection.

Sometimes an affair can trigger a new and intense sexual attraction to their partner and have even more sex with one another right after an affair than they had in the past. I refer to this as “reclamation sex.” Each is reclaiming their sex with one another to overcompensate for the injury created by the triangulated third person. Some people are embarrassed to admit this because they don’t want the Affair Partner to think this is an indication that all is forgiven.  The initial erotic injury can also create distance between a couple which brings about a new attraction and longing for one another.  The fear of losing each other can trigger old feelings of sexual connection, as well as their need for comfort during such a stressful time.  Although it could be the best sex they have ever had with each other it can also be confusing and emotionally frustrating.

Marriage Counseling includes acquiring empathy building skills.  When the Affair Partner can feel the pain and suffering of and show empathy toward the Hurt Partner the healing really begins.  The Hurt Partner needs to be able to manage the range of emotions about the affair while undergoing Affair Recovery  To regain the sexual intimacy wanted the couple needs to repair the emotional hurt that created the disconnect.

For more information on Erotic Recovery and how to move on from an affair please contact me at (858) 735-1139.