The Crisis of Infidelity Part I

The Crisis of Infidelity.  The single most destructive threat to committed relationships is when one of the partners engages in a sexual relationship with another person. This is not an uncommon event. Conservative estimates suggest that about a quarter of women, and a third of men, have violated their marital commitment to their partners. About 65 percent of marriages struck by infidelity end in divorce.

The impact on the lives of those who practice infidelity is enormous. It violates the integrity, trust, and commitment upon which marriage is based. When two people enter into a committed relationship, they make a promise to love and honor each other. This involves making a heartfelt promise to work through the problems that are sure to arise within the relationship. To break that promise means dishonoring the trust of the person who has agreed to live with you and build a life together. When an extramarital affair is discovered, a crisis ensues. Now the question is – can this relationship continue? In more than half the cases, the relationship does end – but, depending on how this crisis is dealt with by both partners, the relationship does have a chance to continue. In some cases, this relationship crisis serves as a watershed event that opens the door to self-examination and honest communication that may put the relationship on stronger ground.  As a Marriage Counselor working in Affair Recovery that is exactly what happens to the couples I help who are committed to the process.  They state despite the difficulty in talking about the affair the sharing of thoughts and feelings brings about a vulnerability that creates an emotional connection between them and they feel closer to each other than ever.  Hence the phrase, “the affair has become the best thing that has happened to us.”

Whether infidelity leads to the negative outcome of the dissolution of the relationship or, at the other extreme, a more positive outcome with a stronger commitment and better communication depends on many factors. An important variable, among others, is whether the partner who cheated came from a family with infidelity. People with parents who were unfaithful are at higher risk for infidelity within their own relationships – although this is certainly not always the case, and many people from these families are determined never to repeat their parent’s mistake. Yet we learn many things in our families of origin, and one of those is to copy the behavior of our parents – and sometimes to act out our unresolved issues.

Young Man On Sofa Looking At Stressed Woman

Another factor that may determine whether a relationship can survive infidelity is the nature of the affair.  Some affairs lack any emotional commitment, while others involve a deeper level of intimacy and connection than is found within the primary relationship. While a marriage or relationship may survive the former, as long as the underlying issues are brought out into the open and worked through, the latter type is not as hopeful. The couple would have to put in a great deal of work to save this relationship.

The serial affair, for example, involves many one-night stands or a series of affairs. This type of affair lacks emotional commitment and intimacy, and the motive is often sexual excitement. These affairs usually occur out of town or away from areas where friends might find out about them. A sex addiction might be present in serial affairs. Although a person who engages in serial affairs is not interested in establishing an emotional investment with his or her partners, there is also a lack of attention paid to the vow of fidelity within the primary relationship – and this is a serious issue that must be addressed if the relationship is to continue.

The more formidable threat to a primary relationship is the romantic long-term affair. In this case, there is an emotional commitment to an outside partner, and some of these affairs can last for several years. If the primary relationship is to have any chance of surviving, the affair needs to come to an end. If the affair were to continue, the straying partner would likely not have the emotional energy or motivation to repair the damage done to the main relationship. Some Hurt Partners, however, allow the affair to go on and pretend not to know about it because they don’t want to end their primary relationship – but the price they pay is a high one.  As a Marriage and Couples Counselor in San Diego, I help couples who are dealing with the aftermath of discovery of an affair and help them sort out what to do next.  I will be discussing the different Types of Affairs in my next Blog which include:

Life Transitions

Unrealistic Expectations

The Cry for Help

Breakdown in Communication

The Exit Strategy

For more information on Infidelity and Affair Recovery please contact me at (858) 735 -1139.


What To Do After An Affair Is Discovered

What To Do After An Affair Is Discovered. You’ve just discovered your husband or wife is having an affair. You’re flush with a range of emotions and are feeling very vulnerable. You’re overwhelmed because you think your relationship – and life as you know it – is over. Couples can survive infidelity. The single best indicator for success is if the affair partner (cheater) is able to provide empathy to the hurt partner where they obtain insight into why this happened and articulate why it won’t happen again. At the same time, the hurt partner needs to manage the range of emotions appropriately as this process takes much time for healing.

As a Marriage Counselor specializing in Affair Recovery, I would urge you to slow down, breathe deeply, and not do anything impulsive. Acknowledge your feelings but don’t act on them.  Try to exercise appropriate behavior as you begin the recovery process.

girl holding a shirt with the imprint of lipstick.

What To Do After An Affair Is Discovered

As a Couples Counselor I provide these helpful steps to help you deal with the discovery of an affair:

    1. Normalize your emotions – You will be on an emotional roller coaster. Don’t ignore your feelings, don’t be in denial about the seriousness of the situation, and don’t exacerbate the situation by telling everyone that your husband (wife) is a lying, cheating, adulterer. Keep it private.
    2. Give each other space – Don’t get into each other’s face and start judging and criticizing. This will accomplish nothing and only produce more bad feelings. Give yourselves the gift of time away from each other to talk to a Couples Counselor; Affair Recovery Specialist, someone who can get you communicating productively and moving forward.
    3. Don’t rush into discussing explicit details – Wait until you get into Marriage Counseling before airing out the dirty laundry. A trained Marriage Counselor will guide you through this awkward and difficult process so that you can make emotionally intelligent decisions on the path for recovery.
    4. Tell only select and trusted people in your life –  Empathic support is vital to the healing process. Don’t isolate yourself. Good friends create and maintain the momentum needed to go through this difficult time.
    5. Seek professional help with a Marriage Counselor – Find a Marriage Counselor who specializes in Infidelity and Affair Recovery. They have the tools and the training you will need to survive and move forward.
    6. Your children see and hear more than you know. Remember, your children are under your protection. They suffer when you speak badly of the other parent, so don’t.
    7. Keep the faith – Your Marriage Counselor may be able to offer more choices than separation or divorce.

Dealing with infidelity can be excruciatingly painful. Focus on understanding where your best interests lie. As you consider your options, don’t wallow in self-pity; be compassionate toward yourself.

Some couples can overcome an affair by looking at the silver lining and make their relationship work, if not better, than ever before.

I specialize in Infidelity and Affair Recovery.  If you want more information about what to do when an affair is discovered, please call me at (858) 735-1139.






Infidelity Knows No Boundaries

Infidelity Knows No Boundaries.  It was all over the news and media when Donald Trump smeared Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by dredging up her husband’s past infidelities while he himself is not innocent when it comes to faithfulness in marriage.  As the information reads, Trump too has had an infidelity in the form of Marla Maples, his second wife, while he was still married to his first wife Ivana Trump. His now adult children were of grade school age. “The pot calling the kettle black” seems an appropriate phrase to use in this situation as it claims that a person is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another. While it is stressful running the highest office of the land, it is still important to hold oneself in high regard when exercising appropriate behavior as the whole world is looking to him as a role model. 

Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump

Courtesy of Getty Images and CNBC

Individuals are responsible for their own behavior and in my opinion as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in Infidelity and Affair Recovery if your husband cheats on you, often times it has nothing to do with you as a person.  It’s difficult to accept the discovery of an affair while also having to manage the overwhelming range of emotions. This is a process that takes much time to overcome.

Finding out your partner is having an affair is one of the most devastating things that could happen to you. Cheating shatters the core of your existence leaving you with feelings of rejection, mistrust, anger, betrayal and grief.  It damages your sense of self and leaves you overwhelmed with pain and confusion.

A husband’s indiscretions or affairs, in this case former President Bill Clinton’s, should not taint a wife’s community standing or political aspiration, for example the former Secretary of State, First Lady, and Senator of New York.  Each person is an individual making individual choices in the course of their everyday life and their loved ones shouldn’t be affected with “guilt by association.”  To judge Mrs. Clinton’s foreseeable inability to make good decisions based on her association with her husband is not only inappropriate as she is her own person and has made great accomplishments of her own, but it is ludicrous in that no one should be responsible for the “sins of their fathers.”

Husbands who have affairs, just as with wives who have affairs, have them for very many different reasons. Affairs are less about love and more about boundaries and can happen even in good marriages. The major attraction in an affair is NOT the love partner, but the positive mirroring of the self; the way one looks when one sees himself/herself in the other person’s eyes.  Affairs are more about how the person having the affair feels (excited or aroused). The novelty and newness creates much passion.  The conventional wisdom is that the person having an affair isn’t getting enough at home. That may be true, but often the truth is the person isn’t giving enough.  

An affair doesn’t necessarily end a marriage.  Contrary to what some people believe it can possibly make a marriage stronger.  Recovering from infidelity involves the willingness of unfaithful spouses to demonstrate sincere regret and remorse.  Cheating husbands, Bill Clinton included, probably love their wives very much, as Clinton is undoubtedly very proud his wife.  They have a history together after over 40 years of marriage.  No one wants to give that up.  None of us is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Rather than concentrate on the act of infidelity, find out what happened and what is needed to move forward.  After all, there was a time when you couldn’t live without the person you married for all of those wonderful reasons. Finding out what went wrong and adjusting for the future will uphold the integrity of the intimacy you once had for one another as well as keep and nourish it for always.

For more information on Infidelity and Affair Recovery please contact Sarah Cook Ruggera, MFT at (858) 735-1139.