Marriage Counseling For Infidelity was written by Brett Wallace, UNF psychology student and future clinical psychologist, for Dr. Justin D’Arienzo, Jacksonville Marriage Counselor, Psychologist, and Relationship Expert in November 2014. D’Arienzo Psychological Group is a psychology practice and counseling center specializing in Marriage Counseling for Infidelity.
In this day and age most people think of a partner being unfaithful in regards to sex when the term infidelity gets used. While accurate, another form does exist: emotional infidelity. In regards to which is worse, it depends on the betrayed’s gender. As Schutzwohl (2005) showed, it did not take long for women to have intolerable levels of jealousy when their partner became emotionally involved with another woman. For men, they could not tolerate their partner being sexually involved with another man. I am sure many people have heard lines from movies where a woman would say “But I did not love him,” or a man would say “But I never had sex with her”. To their spouse this effectively translates to, “But I did not engage in the act that you find less painful.” In short the offending partner does not understand that they still committed what their spouse viewed as the more painful act.
Another study (Shackelford, Buss, & Bennett, 2005) gives more evidence for the differences between the genders. In this study, participants were forced to make a choice to forgive their partner or break-up with them. Men found it significantly more difficult to forgive sexual infidelity and were more likely to break-off the relationship. Predictably, women had the same problems in regards to emotional infidelity.
Although some of the research regarding emotional infidelity and physical infidelity looks bleak, if infidelity does exist in a relationship, it does not mean the relationship is doomed or unfixable. One study (Atkins, Eldridge, Baucom, & Christensen, 2005) showed that while couples in which a spouse had some sort of affair were more distressed, they improved much faster than other couples who were dissatisfied with their marriage but had no affair, if they admitted to the affair before or during therapy. As painful as it may be, the study emphasizes that the offending partner must come clean with the affair.
In conclusion, while a spouse’s infidelity does damage the relationship and causes a significant amount of pain, the relationship can be repaired. It will take a lot of effort for the betrayer and the betrayed. The offending spouse will need to tell the truth and support, at length, the receiving spouse as well as help the receiving spouse work through the post traumatic like experience of coping with an affair. Understand their will be a great deal of short term pain, but experiencing and working through the pain is key to resolving the infidelity and rebuilding the marriage.