Infidelity is often a touchy subject, unfortunately a common factor in marital relationships. Many couples seek counseling after an incident of infidelity, which is very helpful for couples looking for clarity, guidance, and coping skills. After the act of infidelity has been committed, the question becomes how does one move past the hurt and anger if the decision has been made to continue the relationship.
If the decision has been made to continue the relationship, then certain rules should be implemented and certain actions taken.
- A qualified professional counselor or marriage and family therapist should be sought out to assist with developing communication skills and to act as a mediator.
- Couples should re-establish relationship rules and expectations, such as the importance of fidelity and deal breakers in the relationship.
- Clarify whether the infidelity was a one time incident or whether it was part of a pattern of questionable and negative behaviors. If there is a pattern of infidelity, then one should be cautious because patterns demonstrate serious character flaws, that may require intense psychotherapy and spiritual guidance.
- The individual who committed the infidelity has to become transparent and willing to share openly such things as emails, text messages etc. for a limited time until the other party in the relationship feels as though nothing is being hidden (people who have nothing to hide will not object or complain about privacy violations).
- The art and act of forgiveness has to be practiced and implemented, it is not fair to continue a relationship and use past infidelity to berate and torture your spouse on a daily basis.
- When working with the professional counselor or marriage and family therapist the couple should explore what acts or behaviors led to the infidelity: in other words, did both parties work hard at providing a loving and caring environment, full of sex, dating, caring actions, quality time, and special moments?. Usually there was some sort of lack in one of the above areas that possibly led to the infidelity, both parties have to take responsibility for not taking care of the relationship, unless one member of the party is a chronic adulterer which again leads to ingrained character flaws that should be addressed with long-term psychotherapy.
- The couple should seek medical attention to check for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), and should begin practicing safe sex until trust has been re-established and both parties are STI free.
- Prayer and spiritual guidance is imperative, the couple should consult their pastor or other spiritual advisor and use bible based scriptures to learn and implement God’s idea of marriage and love.
- Boundary making should be implemented into the relationship, careful consideration should be given in establishing appropriate boundaries, the couple should be careful that outsiders are not allowed into the relationship. This includes family and friends who could compromise the integrity of the relationship by offering negative advice and unwanted interference.