Infidelity, Discernment and Divorce Counseling
THERAPY FOR COUPLES IN CRISIS
Therapists can help you rethink infidelity and relationship crises. It doesn’t have to be the end, make it a new beginning. Otherwise consider our discernment counseling.
Counseling for Distressed Couples: Infidelity, Discernment and Divorce Counseling
Are you finding yourself at a crossroads in your relationship?
Whether you are feeling fear, shame, insecurity, jealousy, or guilt you know that you need something to change. The cause of these feelings may be an affair, a lie or any other “deal breaker” that has left you desperate for a solution. No matter the cause, the future of your relationship hangs in the balance of what you will do now.
Typically, the longer the relationship and more intertwined your lives are, the more difficult it is to even imagine a life apart going forward. Some couples find divorce particularly difficult to talk about when they have kids caught in the middle of it. You probably find yourself staying awake at night wondering “what can i even do at this point?” You always said that if your partner cheated you would leave, no exceptions, but now that you find yourself in this position you start to wonder if you can follow through with that ultimatum.
As difficult as this situation may be for you, we at LifeStance are rethinking typical crisis situations like infidelity. Where messages in the media and friends may put their noses in a relationship and urge for divorce as quickly as possible, we understand that relationships are more complicated than that.
In fact, couples at a crisis point in their relationship are the most ready for the radical actions that they need to take to save their marriage (or relationship).
They find themselves realizing that “Now the worst possible thing that could happen in my relationship has happened, maybe this is our rock bottom, maybe we realize he/she/we need to change.”
After all it is only once partners realize the importance of change that any improvement can be made. Let’s also be clear, after any infidelity, you must ask for help from outside the relationship. The typical healing methods within a relationship are closed off.
We offer Couples Counseling for:
Our Clinicians also help with:
- Preparing for Partnership & Premarital Counseling
- Life Transitions (beginning, ending or changing your relationship status)
- Marriage Counseling
- Relationship Discernment Counseling
Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:
If you come to our offices for infidelity counseling, we understand that every couple is different and we will adjust our therapy to meet your expectations. Typically we spend our first few sessions discussing the history of your relationship and the infidelity. This is also where our therapist will set some ground rules so that both partners can feel safe to communicate openly.
We will also make it clear that the unfaithful partner must atone for their actions, but still both sides should be heard and clearly understood throughout the process.
In the first few sessions we may meet one-on-one with each partner, but most sessions will be done together.
Crisis Relationship Counseling May Help In These Situations:
- Emotional infidelity
- Financial infidelity
- Breach of trust
Beyond these specific issues, your relationship is in crisis if it is on the verge of ending, you feel unsafe or one partner is deeply unsatisfied.
Every Relationship Will Have a Crisis Or Marital Problems
40% of marriages face a challenge with infidelity (sexual or emotional)  at some point in their relationship.
When it comes to divorce 50% of divorces cite infidelity as a cause. So as rare as it is for us to talk about infidelity or other major relationship crises, many people face serious challenges in their marriage.
More broadly when it comes to marriage and relationships, most of us aren’t aware of the red flags that require immediate action. We aren’t taught what healthy relationships look like and we get our ideas about love and marriage mostly from movies. Trained relationship experts (like us at LifeStance) are able to see relationships for what they are, and point out issues before they develop into major crises. Unfortunately many of the issues that lead to infidelity are ones that could have been caught with the proper eye.
So seeing relationships for what they are, we know that many marriages survive (and even can be strengthened long-term) by infidelity. As difficult as it is, it isn’t something to be ashamed of, but rather can mark a new beginning. We’ve worked with many couples and know what that new beginning looks like. Our approach starts with redefining infidelity.
Just as we can redefine infidelity to be broad, we can also redefine what the consequences of infidelity should be. If a relationship is a contract, breaking that contract doesn’t have to void the entire thing. Instead it can be the start of repair. We know that staying together through the crisis doesn’t make you a doormat for accepting the situation, but a fighter for wanting to change it.
When we think of infidelity, we often think of a partner having intercourse with someone else against our wishes. But really we should think of infidelity as being unfaithful or disloyal to your partner by breaking the terms of the relationship (similar to a contract). Many people wouldn’t think of a relationship like a contract, but when you get down to it, that’s what it is.
The odds of infidelity increase when you have never explicitly discussed the boundaries of the relationship. This means your expectations, boundaries and roles in your relationship.
For example, is talking with another woman in flirty/romantic language on a chatroom infidelity? Well most would say no, but if the other partner feels that this is breaking the terms of their relationship, then according to us it is. This may be because the other partner (let’s say the wife) expects the “unfaithful partner” to provide that emotionally romantic attention only to her. That by talking with a stranger in such a way, it is crossing the boundary of their relationship.
Looking for the Red Flags? Why do People Cheat?
If we look at the example above, instead of only saying “what he did was wrong, he hurt me and that means that we have to end this relationship” (Which is understandable to say), we should also ask “why?” Why did he (or people in general) cheat? Often infidelity happens after many other causes. For example, most partners who have cheated feel that they have fallen out of love (or lost the spark) with their partner. This is one of the most important red flags that we deal with. You can read more about our approach to loss of intimacy here.[LINK]
Others feel neglected, bored or not desired in their relationship (strongly connected with loss of intimacy). Some consider their relationship to be sexless and seek sex elsewhere feeling that their partner is not meeting their needs for physical attention.
Some cheat because they have issues with their self-esteem and consider cheating as a way to prove their value. Some claim that they were put in an unlikely situation (which even if that was the case, is just the final straw, where one of the previous reasons tends to be the deeper cause).
Infidelity = not feeling valued + not valuing the relationship.
Often we can find ourselves trapped in a relationship where our needs are not met by our partner. If you don’t have diplomatic communication skills this can be difficult to bring up with your spouse, and so as a result many “good people” find themselves unfaithful. As hard as it may be after the fact, discussing your relationship and building better communication skills can work wonders to “save” the unfaithful. See more about communication here [LINK].
Notably discernment counseling can be helpful after an infidelity. If one partner is strongly hoping to end the relationship and the other feels that there is more to be done to save it, discernment counseling helps couples come to a consensus on a path forward that best suits them.
Discernment Counseling: For Those Considering Divorce
For partnerships where one or both partners are separated, apart or seriously considering divorce, but looking for one last intervention that may change things, discernment counseling is a good option. The point of our discernment counseling is not to try and save the relationship like our other counseling options, but to determine whether the relationship is worth saving.
Because the focus is so limited, these sessions range from 1-5 sessions. Typically the outcomes that we hope to come to agreement on are whether divorce, no change in relationship or a serious commitment to couples counseling is the best course of action for everyone involved. We help you work through the messages you are receiving about your relationship from clergy, friends, family and (importantly) each other (more about discernment counseling).
Break-free and begin your journey to
There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.
LifeStance Health can help.
Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:
Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.
First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling
We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.
Call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.
Schedule by phone:
LifeStance Washington Locations
Tacoma Meadow Park
12900 NE 180th St, Suite 160
Bothell, WA 98011
Plaza 600 Building
600 Stewart St, Suite 1228
Seattle WA 98101
–Coming Fall 2021–
221 N Wall St.
Spokane WA 99201
5909 Orchard Street West
Tacoma, WA 98467
2420 S. Union Ave, Suite 100
Tacoma, WA 98405
5201 Olympic Drive, Suite 210
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
21727 76th Ave West, Suite C
Edmonds, WA 98026