The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives”. Esther Perel.
Over the last year my practice has seen a significant increase in individuals seeking support after infidelity. For those impacted, this is a heartbreaking and angry making situation. It seems, according to national statistics, infidelity has grown during the pandemic as have many other relational issues.
There are many reasons cited for this, and while these make sense, in terms of the increased need to cope with the worldwide pandemic and the feelings it facilitates. It is of the most importance for the person who violated the boundaries of their committed relationship to look at the heart of the problem. The problem that lays within the internal constructs of who they are and the beliefs that allowed them to walk across the line of their personal and relational agreements.
In supporting those who have been impacted by a partner’s infidelity and those who have hurt their partner and relationship in this way, both relational and personal soul searching must occur. This is long and difficult work and while it is true couples can both survive and create stronger bonds after a rupture of this degree; this will only occur if the unfaithful partner is willing to show up with the goal of both personal and relational integrity.
The amount of deceit (both internal and external) that appears to exist in building and maintaining an affair (emotional or otherwise) or concealing a one-night encounter seems mind boggling. When supporting individuals in growing after infidelity the work centers around understanding self and the needs that lay underneath the behavior.
Relationship experts such as Esther Perel note that looking at and improving the dynamics of the relationship and understanding the attachment needs of each partner is paramount in recovery after infidelity. This is the core and to truly evolve as a stronger and better person in relationship understanding internal beliefs built around belonging or independence needs must occur.
As stated, (or possibly understated) this is hard work. The unfaithful partner will need to take the time to truly look at and understand the internal self and its needs and the beliefs and defenses it has built around these needs. This goes far beyond and is much more important than the surface motivation for the behavior. This means answering the difficult question of who am I that allowed me to cross this boundary and hurt (or lose) my partner and myself in this way.
Carl Jung’s conceptualization of the human shadow is of value in this process. This, as noted often on this blog, is the hidden aspects of the human psyche. The unwanted and undesirable parts of the self that one can’t see or accept in themselves. These are often the behaviors they find most upsetting in others.
To truly recover, it is this writer’s belief, that one will need to look at and understand this part of themselves. This will be uncomfortable and likely painful. I have seen, to my great sadness, that not everyone is capable of this. I do firmly believe without this, if the existing relationship is still intact, it will not ever truly recover. If it is not intact, without this internal understanding, the behavior in some form will likely be repeated in future relationships.
The steps to relational repair after infidelity include this deeper accountability to self and the partner that has been hurt.
There are many facets to infidelity, that aren’t explored in this article, this is a broad and deep subject matter. Further resources are provided below. The purpose of this writing is to begin to explore and expand on the role of personal integrity in recovery.
Overall, both partners will have work to do in understanding self and relational dynamics. The determining factor, in relational repair, will the unfaithful partner’s willingness to do the internal work. Showing up everyday from a standpoint of integrity in answering the hard questions that will need to be asked. And taking ownership of his or her transgressions with the purpose of growing the self and relationship. It is not easy work. It can be life changing work.
As always, I value your thoughts and welcome your insights and sharing.
My deepest care and respect to each of you.
Copyright Protected Material: © 2020 LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW. All rights reserved. Written content on this blog (Perspective on Trauma) is the property of the author LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW. Any unauthorized use or duplication without written permission of the author/ owner of this web log is prohibited. Excerpts or quotes may be shared in the event the author is fully cited with reference and direction to this blog.
Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational. It is not intended to provide advice, assessment, treatment, or diagnosis. Content is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, or to engage in an informed treatment relationship within this format. If you or a loved one need support; it is important that you access this care from your own (specifically assigned) health care provider.
Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the Perspective on Trauma blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. In the event, support is needed it is your responsibility to seek care from your own health-care provider.
Treatment Referral Helpline: (1-877-726-4727)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (1-800-273-8255)
Photo: Image found on Pixabay
Glass, Shirley. 2004 Not Just friends. Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity. Arita Books
Jung, Carl. 1912. The Psychology of the Unconscious. Princeton University Press
Abrams Janis and Spring Micheal. 1996. After the Affair. Healing the pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful. Harper Collins Publisher.
Perel Esher. The State of Affairs, Rethinking Infidelity.
Weiner-Davis, 2017. Michele. Healing From Infidelity. Michele Weiner-Davis Training Corp