Are You Feeling Hopeless About Your Relationship?
It feels like your world has been torn apart when you discover your partner had an extramarital affair. Things you believed in and the stability of life as you knew it are changed forever — ripped from you by someone else — someone you trusted with your life — someone you now cannot trust even to go to the store without further cheating.
Are You Devastated By the Betrayal?
Even if your relationship has been awful for a long time, you never expected a cheating spouse and adultery. After finding out about your partner's affair, it feels like it is the end of the world. You think that nothing good can come from this. Your feelings are intense and might change from moment to moment. You wonder if you will explode with the contradictory feelings you experience.
Yet, It is possible to fix your marriage after adultery or an extramarital affair. I work with this all the time and I can help you and your spouse work through the healing process.
Are You Saying,
How Can I Save My Marriage?
People ask me many questions about relationships and marriage. Some of the more common questions are:
- Dr. Gunzburg, can I maintain my marriage after a cheating spouse?
- Dr. Gunzburg, can I reconcile my marriage after an extramarital affair?
- Dr. Gunzburg, can you save my marriage?
Call me: I can help you stop divorce and save your marriage! I am Frank Gunzburg. You've probably seen my name and my marriage articles around the internet, along with several marriage self-help books that I have written. I am a psychologist, licensed in Maryland for over 35 years. I have worked with many relationships over those 35+ years. My website on marriage counseling describes more about what I do and what I believe.
What to Call Your Marriage Situation
If you wonder about whether your own marital situation is marital infidelity, cheating, or an extramarital affair, the definition varies depending on many circumstances. The strict definition of infidelity includes sexual behavior, but an extramarital affair or marital infidelity can be physical, emotional or both.
It doesn't matter if the affair is sexual infidelity or emotional dependence, your feelings are still authentic and can be very intense. The Mayo Clinic has an overview on recovering from infidelity and they also describe the difficulty in finding a single definition of marital affair or infidelity.
About Saving Your Marriage After Infidelity
Let's return to answering the previous questions about saving your marriage after an extramarital affair or after marital infidelity. If you receive and follow the right advice on rebuilding trust in your marriage, you can probably stay together after an extramarital affair. There are things you want to know after being betrayed by marital infidelity and it is important that you learn safe ways of retrieving and dealing with the potentially volatile information about the extramarital affair.
The person who was betrayed has needs, and so does the person who cheated. If you are the injured person, you might not think your spouse has any right to his or her own needs at this point. Guilty feelings after an affair are common for the person who created the marital infidelity. It's what the cheating spouse does with those guilty feelings after the adultery that will make a difference in whether or not you reconcile your marriage.
Repairing the Damage of a Marital Affair
First, you have to learn how to treat your spouse and love your spouse like your best friend again. This is easy to say, but difficult for most people to accomplish. When I work with couples in marriage counseling, I teach a step-by-step plan to overcome anger and treat each other like friends. This is really necessary if you want to repair your relationship.
Relationship Counseling to get Past Anger
Relationship help involves more than just holding your anger down. Through relationship counseling, I teach you to bypass the angry feelings in the first place. This is real anger management. I don't single one of you out for anger management, but rather, teach you couple's anger management so you won't need to get angry in the first place.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has some useful information on anger. There is reference to cognitive restructuring to cope with anger and as an effective means for anger management. My step-by-step plan utilizes cognitive restructuring along with other strategies such as problem solving and communication counseling.
Communication skills can be learned. The University of Florida has an abbreviated worksheet for good communication skills (PDF). Simon Fraser University also produced a simple communication exercise for couples (PDF).
Couples Counseling and Communication
In couples counseling, though, I focus on teaching communication skills at a deeper and more thorough level. The communication skills I teach in relationship counseling are far more comprehensive and fuller-bodied than either of these University links describe.
When I teach couples to improve communication, not only do I give step-by-step guidance and relationship advice during the communication training, I guide couples in practice sessions to make the communication skills easier to grasp. I do what it takes to help the couple be successful in learning how to communicate in their marriage. I want the couple to improve relationship communication skills in the marriage.
Learning Anger Management
Another useful skill I teach is anger management. I help couples reduce arguing almost completely within the first few sessions, if arguing is a major problem.
Not All Counselors are the Same: Your Mileage May Vary
It is a mistake to think that all counselors approach relationship counseling in the same way. Many will work with the individuals within the sessions instead of with the couple. The spouses each become really good at communicating with the marriage counselor, but don't enhance relationship communication within the marriage.
Another potential problem is when the counselor tells you why you are having your marital problems — and they might even be quite good at personality analysis — but doesn't know how to teach you to make the changes you want. Still other counselors will try to teach you to be a hedonist — a person who does what he likes with minimal consideration for others — and if your marital situation is too difficult, this counselor might tell you to divorce — that your relationship problem is hopeless.
Check out this article from the University of Tulsa if you would like to review a good article on marriage and marital therapy.
Although I see couples where the man in the marriage is the nurturing and understanding partner, it more often is the woman. Psychology Today has an article about men having the strength to overcome this situation and become supportive.
Further Resources by Dr. Gunzburg
If you are interested in my work, you might find my self-help book on How to Survive An Affair (click here) useful. The ordering information for this self-help book is at the bottom of the very long page. Other books are listed in the links above and on the left on this page. Forgive and Work Through the Past and Rebuild the Honesty are audio books as well as printed.