In simple terms, adultery, also known as cheating, infidelity, or having an affair, is the act of being sexually or emotionally unfaithful in marriage. This is not to ignore cases of emotional unfaithfulness which can have similar devastating even when the relationship was never “physical”. An affair can come as a shock and leave you feeling confused, hopeless, and most of all betrayed by a person you trusted more than anyone else. This feeling of betrayal and shock can leave you questioning where to go from here.
Types of Affairs (Infidelity)
Several different types of infidelity can occur in a relationship.
An object affair can be described as the neglect of a relationship for the sake of pursuing an outside interest. This pursuit may reach a point of near-obsession.
In a sexual affair, one partner may have sexual intercourse outside the relationship, but he or she generally experiences no emotional attachment to the other person.
A cyber affair, or infidelity committed through sexts and chats, may remain entirely online and never reach the point of sexual intimacy. This type of affair might also include the viewing of pornography, which we believe is a form of infidelity.
An emotional affair occurs when one partner becomes emotionally attached to another person, generally of the gender to whom one is attracted. In an emotional affair, a person might spend hours chatting online or talking on the phone to someone other than his or her partner. An emotional affair can have a negative effect on a relationship because a person engaged in emotional infidelity often discusses relationship problems with the object of his or her attachment, rather than with his or her partner. - adapted from Goodthearapy
The Recovery Process
Recovery typically progresses through the following phases:
Trauma Phase: Following discovery, the betrayed partner may experience shock and significant emotional trauma as a result of finding out about the affair. He or she may feel angry, vengeful, and hopeless. This phase is often a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from loss and grief to rage and frustration, and can be accompanied by bouts of tears or conflict. Both partners struggle with thinking clearly during this phase, and both may experience physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and weight loss.
Therapeutic Disclosure: A therapeutic disclosure is a planned disclosure facilitated by a NorthPoint therapist. The affair partner provides information to his/her partner regarding all of his/her affair behaviors from the time he/she has known his partner until the present time. The disclosure provides an overview of the behavior. Disclosure is done without going into details that would not add to the overall scope of the acting out behavior, and would only serve to cause additional pain and be potentially triggering to his/her partner.
Issues Clarification: It is during this time that couples begin to examine what led to the affair. Although there is still a great deal of emotional instability, partners want to understand why the affair happened. The sooner couples can begin this process, the sooner they can reap the rewards of closure. Enlisting the help of a NorthPoint therapist will be helpful during this time, which may be psychologically stressful to one or both partners.
Addressing the Problem: This is when the real work begins. As emotions become more manageable, spouses can tackle the difficult task of working on the issues that led to the affair. There will be highs and lows as guilt and anger become mixed with longing for the relationship as it once was, but couples who persevere through this phase will often be able to finally address the issues that are at the root of much of their discontent.
A NorthPoint therapist will be here to help you navigate through this process and learn the steps to take and how to move forward in the way that will best suit your specific situation.