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You feel like the ground has been pulled out from under you. How could this happen? Affairs are one of the most painful--and often shocking--experiences a couple can endure. If you or your partner has participated in an affair, I highly recommend seeking treatment to help you recover from it in a healthy way. This is tricky territory, and having a guide to help you navigate the path of recovery can make all the difference. First and foremost, treatment for an affair helps you to regain equilibrium, so you can re-establish a basic sense of safety in your relationship. Once this happens, we can move into the process of understanding the factors (both individually and in your relationship) that led to the occurrence of the affair. Throughout this work, there is an essential focus on rebuilding trust. These steps, and having the structure and safety of a professional to walk you through them, can lay the foundation for you to heal and move forward.

Affairs are a trauma provoked by loneliness and indulgence. I have worked with many people on every side of infidelity, and with many couples through their healing after an affair. Affairs are a deep betrayal of our belief that we can fully trust the limits on our partner's (or our own) behavior. Once this essential rule is broken in a relationship, it's like the bottom falls out completely on what we can believe anymore. Yet, people who have affairs are usually going through their own crises as well: feeling unloved, alone, desperate for connection or reassurance, at a loss about how to get their essential needs met. The discipline of commitment and fidelity is in knowing that statistically there will always be someone else 'out there' who is a better match in some ways yet continually choosing to stay and improve the connection you have. When all seems broken or at a stalemate, that's what couples therapy is for: bringing about profound change in your relationship. After an affair, couples and/or individual therapy serve to work through the loss of trust or safety, the sense of shame, guilt, anger, and resentments that each partner may feel. Ultimately, a lost innocence is accepted along with clearer boundaries, communication, openness, and power in the relationship. These, in turn, can lead to a rebuilding of trust.

For most people, infidelity is considered to be a major betrayal with lasting consequences. If someone has been unfaithful to you, you may wonder if you can ever trust again, if you are worth loving, if you can forgive and past the affair, or if your partner ever truly loved you. You may feel so angry that you want to hurt your partner as he or she hurt you. Forgiveness may seem unimaginable. You may have invested years into the relationship and be angry with yourself for choosing your partner in the first place. Questions about staying in the relationship or leaving are common and difficult to answer. Therapy is a place where you can sort through the painful emotions, let go of destructive feelings, and come to a reasonably satisfying decision.

Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.
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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence