Has Infidelity Touched Your Life?
Are you the one (in five people) who cheats on your spouse or partner? Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end. Either way, the experience is usually traumatic, and, depending on several factors (e.g., whether children are involved in the relationship), can change lives dramatically.
Rates of Betrayal and Devastation
Infidelity, according to research reported by Kristen Mark in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, infidelity is committed by approximately 19 and 23 percent of women and men, respectively. When you consider that only about a third of the individuals with partners who cheated on them are able to heal in the wake of such an experience, it is apparent that a large number of relationships remain broken.
Should I Leave or Should I Stay?
Most experts agree that more education/training on the part of health care professionals is needed regarding ways to help couples recover from and/or renew the relationship. Many times the offended party feels so betrayed and is so hurt that his/her first reaction is to get out of the relationship. He or she may feel that the partner can never again be trusted and that there is no way of working through the trauma resulting from adulterous acts of the loved one.
However, Dr. Tammy Nelson, who does research on affair recovery, sees the affair as a wake-up call that allows you to delve into your relationship and see aspects of which you were not previously aware. She sees the recovery process as an opportunity for partners to redefine their relationship whether it leads to separation or reconciliation. How many relationships (of people you know) have you seen dissolve after infidelity was discovered? And how many were able to re-establish their intimacy or completely overhaul their relationship so that it became stronger than it was before the experience of betrayal? Did they seek help in recovering?
Reconstruction of Lives
In order to rebuild a relationship that has been damaged or strained by a cheating partner, experts say the injured party must go well beyond just forgiving his or her mate. Why? Because “there will always be someone else in the bedroom” unless you re-engage intimately. To do this, it is extremely helpful if the partners, together as a couple, undergo some exploratory exercises (and doing so with a couples therapist, counselor, or mediator increases the likelihood of success). For example, the individuals should answer questions about and discuss what they learned from the affair about themselves. They should also explore what their partners’ erotic needs and desires are, while, at the same time, learning how to more effectively reveal their own.