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Can Marriages Heal After An Affair?

An article written by
Sally Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT

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 Learning that your partner has been unfaithful, sexually or emotionally, feels like a punch in the stomach. Often the first reaction is to kick out the cheating spouse, tell everyone about how “wronged” you have been and see an attorney about a divorce.

Our advice to the one who has been hurt… step back, cry, be angry, talk things over with a “safe” person like a therapist, a person in a helping profession … or someone that might be “for” your marriage. Let a little time pass before making any kind of decision.
Our advice for the one who has been unfaithful is to do what whatever it takes to end that relationship and recognize that “getting over” that person will not be easy or happen quickly. Consider talking with an impartial and trained therapist who can help you move through this difficult time.

Many of the couples that we see have actually called the revelation of the affair a “gift” to their marriage. Generally, affairs do not happen in strong and mature marriages, although that can sometimes be the case.  In this day of technology and the ease of reconnecting with former sweethearts, more couples are finding that what they thought was a healthy marriage is devastated by an affair.

Often couples have grown apart because their attention has been turned elsewhere … to work, children, alcohol, activities … or one or the other has not been able to talk out loud about things that bother them. When

someone is not allowed … or does not give themselves permission to talk out loud about things that bother them, they can build up walls of anger, hurt and resentment that turn them away from their spouse and toward another person.

After the initial aftermath of the disclosure, and if this is not a relationship where there have been multiple affairs, couples can then look at the issues that brought them to the space in their relationship that “eased the way” for the affair to develop.

This “wake-up call” often helps couples then learn how to talk more openly with each other about what they want and need in their relationship, discover ways to handle conflict effectively, turn more to each other and away from other interests, renew their sex life and develop more positivity in their relationship.

We, at Couples Counseling of Louisville, have a lot of experience at helping couples to navigate this scary territory. Please contact us if you would like some help with your relationship.

  John and Sally were interviewed about affairs on WFPL.  Listen to their interview by clicking here.
Click here to read more of our articles about affairs.