This is one of those million dollar questions. It all depends. Some committed relationships survive affairs, some crumble beneath the weight of the sorrow and hurt, some others chose to turn around and pretend it never happened. And some others — few — thrive in the aftermath. But all suffer. There’s no way to avoid the hurt that comes after finding out that your partner betrayed your trust and your relationship’s sense of safety.
Coming back to the original question: does therapy help?
My short answer to that is: how invested and willing are you to look deep into the whys and the whats that lead you and your partner to that betrayal of trust? Therapy will look into this, and it can be exhausting work. But oh, so worth it. Because even if that relationship doesn’t survive, you will grow; hopefully, you will learn about yourself, about your partner, about your journey together.
And because most importantly, what we don’t repair tends to repeat itself.
And who wants that?
In my experience working with couples who have experienced an affair — meaning a betrayal of trust in the relationship by engaging in physical and/or emotional closeness with another person outside of the committed relationship — I have found that those couples who are able to move forward, are those ones who are fully invested and committed in healing the hurt. That usually requires rebuilding a solid and strong foundation where safety can flourish again. It takes enormous effort to build safety and trust with a partner that you have betrayed. There is always going to be a crack, however small, in your relationship. And that space needs to be constantly, and consistently, filled with loving care, patience, and respect.
Then, there’s looking into why the affair happened. It’s easy to blame the betraying partner and say, “Your fault.” But it rarely is that black or white, isn’t it? The real answer lies somewhere along the couple’s shared timeline, somewhere in between their years of being together, their communication style, their routines and lack of space and time for shared activities, their thoughts, ideals, and expectations, AND their lack of intimacy — and not just sexual intimacy but the emotional and…