Are you currently in a marriage crisis? Marriage is difficult because it contains two imperfect people. If you are reaching out for help, you have come to the right place.
One of the most painful revelations is that your spouse or significant other has been involved with another — in person or virtually. The experience of finding out is traumatic for everyone involved. Once what has happened comes out, everything changes. After the discovery, many people who cheat on their spouses report feeling less stress since they no longer have to keep the secret. But unfortunately, that stress is transferred directly to the betrayed spouse.
Just as with any addiction, an affair is a clinical issue. With an affair, the betrayed spouse is traumatized and stricken with anxiety and depression. In order to keep the damage from this experience from infecting all of your relationships throughout the rest of your life, it is really important to get professional help to work through these issues. Many couples make it through the affair, but they live their lives shackled to the hurt and mistrust that arose from the affair throughout the rest of their marriage.
Much like a headache, an affair is a symptom of a larger problem. An affair provides a couple an opportunity to address some deeper issues that have gone unaddressed in the marriage. Clinical assessment can help determine the individual and relational challenges lying at the root of the affair. An affair is an opportunity for personal and marital growth.
Too many couples throw in the towel before they realize the potential of the affair to produce the change they have been praying for in themselves and in their marriage. Obviously, an affair breaks the marital vow — but that doesn’t have to be the end of the marriage. Why just throw away all that you have built to just start over again if you don’t have to? Allow your affair to become a part of your story and not the end of your story.
Another important reason to seek help through an affair is that affair recovery is fraught with a multiplicity of landmines that would derail your progress. Having a professional available to answer your questions and to help calm you down when you need it provides the support you need to keep from making even more mistakes and causing more damage for you to heal from.
Are you ready to save your marriage, have a better marriage, and become better people?
How the Program Works
Most people are a little apprehensive about beginning therapy. Those who have had an affair or who are engaged in sexual acting out behaviors find it particularly difficult to open up about what they have done. There is a lot of shame, embarrassment and pride standing in the way of admitting to others the wrongs committed. But most of my clients realize after their first session that therapy isn’t bad at all. They even come to a point of enjoying group therapy — even when they thought they never would.
A couple never really fully recovers from an affair, and the affair will never be forgotten. But it can become a point of reference for continued individual and relationship growth throughout the rest of their lives together. Intimacy and trust can be re-established. However, intimacy and trust must continue to grow throughout the marriage. Most want the affair to just go away, never to be mentioned again. But that is a very unhealthy way to view our mistakes. As an opportunity for growth, the affair will be remembered and referred to time and time again — not in a negative way, but in a way to move the couple forward toward deeper intimacy and trust.
The affair recovery process doesn’t come with a particular time frame. The Lifestyle program positions couples to focus on rebuilding their marriage and staying in treatment for at least a year. But couples and individuals stay in the program as long as they need to until they have reached their goals. Those who have diagnosed disorders and addictions often stay in therapy longer than others. The treatment program includes regular individual, couple, and group sessions. Initially, these sessions are on a weekly basis, and as progress is made spreads out to bi-weekly, monthly, or as needed. There are assessments, reading, and assignments all designed to bring about changes in perspective and ways of relating to one another. You will get out of this what you put in to it.
Couples that are admitted into the program are those who have dealt with emotional and sexual affairs, pornography and sexting, or a serious erosion of trust as a result of unfaithfulness to the marriage vow. Substance abuse and other addictions are also addressed in this program. This program helps individuals restore their dignity so that couples can preserve their relationship in the midst of seriously destructive behaviors. Sexual deviance is very difficult to overcome in marital relationships because just as difficult it is for the one acting out sexually to stop their behavior, it is difficult for the hurt spouse to forgive and rebuild their trust in their spouse. Treatment is essential to navigate the difficult terrain of recovering together. Many couples survive sexual deviance but never restore their relationship. But it is possible to have a vibrant and fulfilling marriage post-affair with proper treatment.
Maintaining a healthy sexual relationship in marriage is no small task. Marriage requires the ability to negotiate and compromise. It requires personal growth. So many are unprepared for the rigors of marriage and find themselves seeking out others to meet their companionship and sexual needs. Simply learning the essentials of communication and conflict resolution would tremendously reduce the numbers of extramarital affairs and decrease relationship breakups.
The Types of Affairs
There are 11 different types of affairs. It is important to know which type of affair you are having to ensure you are treating it properly.
- The Conflict Avoidance Affair
- Intimacy Avoidance Affair
- Individual Stage Affair
- Sexual Addiction Affair
- Accidental-Brief Affair
- Philandering & Other Individual Tendencies
- Retribution Affair
- Bad Marriage Affair
- Exit Affair
- Parallel Lives Affair
- Online Affair
Click here if you would like a full description of these types of affairs and how likely it is to survive them.
Phases of Affair Recovery
I’ve discovered 10 phases of affair recovery that couples move through to successfully recover. Most often rather than moving from one phase to another, couples jump in and out of phases along the journey.
Phase 1: Secrecy
Phase 2: Discovery & Disclosure
Phase 3: Reaction & Crisis
Phase 4: Understanding & Clarity
Phase 5: Apology & Grieving
Phase 6: Forgiving & Healing
Phase 7: Hope
Phase 8: Cooperation & Reconnecting
Phase 9: Rebuilding (Addressing Unresolved Issues, Trust & Addiction Recovery)
Phase 10: Intimacy Established/Restored
Can Joe Help Us?
It is important to select a therapist who has experience helping couples work through affairs, addictions, and other marital challenges, and who you feel comfortable talking to. Many have been able to find that comfort in me. I have helped many couples from diverse backgrounds.
Each couple and each affair is different. The Lifestyle Affair Recovery Program is not a one-size fits all program. Each couple works through these phases in their own time frame. The objective of the program is to assist the couple in developing new habits and avoiding the pitfalls in recovery. The progress through these phases is not always in a straight line, as many times couples drop back to revisit a previous phase. Without intervention, it is very unlikely a couple will successfully navigate through these phases without getting rid of unresolved issues, which will ultimately limit their future happiness together.
This program helps couples avoid the crippling effects of an affair. Many couples get stuck in a particular phase for years prior to seeking help. Many times, recovery requires restarting from Phase 2. When a previous affair from many years before is revealed, couples must still go through the recovery phases to effectively heal.
This program is right for you if you can answer these statements affirmatively:
- Both of you are committed to working on your marriage
- Both of you are open to traditional Christian values (You don’t have to be a Christian)
- The husband or wife has broken the other’s trust and is willing to enter addiction recovery therapy if necessary
- The betrayed spouse has issued an ultimatum to the betrayer to discontinue the destructive behaviors or to end the marriage
- Both of you are open to at least a year in therapy (Affair recovery is a marathon, not a sprint)
- Both of you are committed to the financial and time commitment required
Many couples come to me desiring to figure out whether they should stay together or not. That is a very important question to answer. Many times, one has already decided to end the marriage and the other is begging them to reconsider. And then there are cases where both have declared their commitment to preserve their marriage but are seeking help to do so. Whichever your case may be, I am committed to helping you reach your goals.
My Approach to Affairs and Infidelity
I see affairs from the family systems perspective. The family systems perspective sees affairs as embedded in the dynamics of the couple along with the multiple relationships, experiences, individuality, and history of each partner. Family systems studies the multiple factors contributing to the affair, including the couple’s communication patterns, individual psycho-emotional development, moral and spiritual formation, and cultural influences. The way a couple communicates is the most essential element to being understood, recover from an affair, and ultimately strengthen the marriage. Most frequently I use a combination of solution-focused therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy to discover the central purpose of the affair, assess the condition of the marital relationship prior to the affair, lead the couple to sort through their many and varied conflicting emotions, and successfully help them reach their goals following the affair. I use the 12-step model along with solution-focused strategies to address the particular individual addiction issues.
What do you usually hear when people explain why they got divorced? Isn’t it “He/she cheated on me”?
But this is not the whole story. The truth is that cheating is most often the symptom of marital problems — and not the cause. And marital problems are symptoms of personal problems. Too often couples focus on the cheating and not the other underlying issues. Successful treatment comes from understanding and resolving the underlying issues.
There are four parts to clinical intervention:
- Helping the couple cope with the immediate trauma
- Helping the couple understand the factors that made them vulnerable to the affair
- Helping the couple resolve the individual issues (unproductive patterns) interfering with relationship success
- Helping the couple rebuild the marital relationship
I employ four strategies to help couples recover from their affair:
- Affair Intervention Weekend
This intense 14-hour intervention will prepare you for your recovery journey. You will learn about the recovery process, understand why affairs occur, identify the recovery pitfalls and how to overcome them, form alliances with other couples seeking to save their marriage, and create a path forward for your relationship.
- Non-judgmental and Positive Therapy
Marriage therapy engages couples in a dialogue that leads to positive individual and relationship change. Individual therapy challenges the personal perspectives that seem to interfere with building a successful marriage. Therapy seeks to spark new life in couple communication while eradicating old destructive patterns and behaviors. In therapy you will learn how to communicate effectively, resolve conflict, and manage your emotions.
- Assessments and Educational Curriculum
Throughout treatment, the couple works through the assessments, textbooks, and online curriculum that provide additional instruction and reinforce what is being learned. The material is meant to enhance learning and facilitate change. Couples will come back to these resources time and time again throughout their marriage and often share them to help other couples.
- Group therapy
The opportunity to develop new relationships and get positive feedback and encouragement from other couples is just another way to ensure new patterns are established and maintained in the relationship. In addition to group therapy, couples get the opportunity to enjoy each other socially. The shared community experiences enhances the possibility of positive change in each couple. Same gender group sessions are pivotal in gaining peer support and developing productive patterns of relating to others — especially your spouse.
The Lifestyle Affair Recovery Program is designed for couples who have decided to save their marriage after the affair. Couples who have not yet decided to stay in the marriage or are dealing with a non-participating partner issues will need a few sessions of therapy before they are ready for the Affair Intervention Weekend.
The Lifestyle Affair Recovery Program operates with a cohort of four couples at a time. To be included in the next cohort, the couple must have achieved the first two milestones of recovery. You may not be ready to work through this program with other couples. Considerable individual and relationship growth is needed before joining a cohort.
Here are the five most critical milestones a couple must achieve to recover from an affair.
- The betrayer takes responsibility for the affair and for doing his/her part in rebuilding the trust of the betrayed.
- The couple commits to rebuilding their marriage.
- The betrayed forgives the betrayer and grants them the opportunity to regain their trust.
- The personal issues negatively impacting the marriage are resolved.
- The couple commits to participating in one another’s personal growth journey and maintaining a sizzling hot marriage.
Newton’s third law of motion illustrates what it takes to effectively overcome an affair. Your affair will require an equal and opposite reaction to change the tide in your marriage. The affair or sexual addiction has pulled you apart. Restoration will require a concerted effort that is intense and persistent. Recovery requires a tremendous amount of positive energy to counteract the negative messages an affair or sexual addition establishes in the mind of the betrayed and the betrayer. This recovery program is designed to bring that positive energy to your relationship.
The program requires two huge commitments. First, there is a financial commitment, and then there is a time commitment. Can you commit to focusing on rebuilding your marriage for the next 12 months? Are you open to sharing your business with a caring, confidential clinician? Are you prepared to make a financial investment in your marriage? Do you have the time to commit to weekly therapy sessions? Are you open to building relationships with other couples going through similar challenges?
This program will require boldness on your part. Working with a therapist who can coach you along this difficult road can be a very rewarding experience for both of you.
The Seven Steps to Recovery
- Changing Course
- Sharing the Details
- Personal Healing
- Sexual Healing
- Rebuilding Intimacy
- Restoring Confidence
These seven steps form the treatment framework we will be working through on this journey. It starts with each of you changing course and committing to behaviors that bring you together in contrast to the ones that have been tearing you apart. Step two involves sharing the details of the affair in a way that contributes to the healing process. Step three focuses on the personal healing of each individual. This involves healing from the hurt of the affair to resolving the resentments that have built up through the years. This step addresses the addictive behaviors that must be eliminated. Step four leads the couple into the necessary sexual healing required to move on with the marriage. Step five helps the couple rebuild intimacy by meeting each other’s emotional needs. Step six addresses the forgiveness needed for one another, others involved in the breach, and for oneself. The final step is restoring confidence in each other and the future of the marriage.
Your treatment cost will be discussed in your assessment session, during which it will be determined which treatment approach would be best for you. Private pay as well as insurance is accepted. Most insurance plans are accepted for this initial session and all therapy services are billed under insurance. Insurance does not cover educational materials, retreats, and social gatherings. During the initial sessions you will share your experience and goals, and a treatment program will be developed for you.
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