Oct 28, 2019
As a relationship counsellor, I witness first-hand the devastation the revelation of an affair has upon a couple's relationship and ultimately the wider family.
Couples arrive in the counselling room experiencing a whole host of emotions ranging from shock, denial and anger to list a few. In my experience, however, not many couples have any idea why an affair has occurred. So many times I hear, "but we had the perfect relationship", or "if the affair had not happened we would have been fine" or "I just want the relationship back to how it was". It is not realistic to expect the relationship to return to its previous state. An affair is often the symptom of problems within a relationship rather than the cause and can appear after the relationship has been in trouble for some time.
Why do affairs happen?
The common assumption is that affairs occur in relationships where sexual experiences are limited. However, affairs can occur for many reasons. Sometimes an affair can be used as a way to end a relationship that is all but over. In this instance, the partner having the affair uses it to instigate an end to the relationship and often the partner not having the affair can feel relieved when the affair is revealed, neither one wanting to be the one who was seen to end the relationship.
Affairs can also result when one partner is afraid of becoming emotionally close and vulnerable with their partner. These types of affairs are often repeated. The couple becomes embroiled in a pattern of relating, becoming close then pulling away from each other when the closeness starts to feel uncomfortable.
Some affairs are used to stabilize the relationship. When pressures inside or outside the relationship build up, it may become too much. In this situation, an affair acts as a diversion to allow the couple to avoid discussing the real problems.
Finally, limited sexual experiences may be a reason an affair occurs, particularly for couples where their previous sexual experiences have been few and/or they find it difficult to talk to their partner about their sexual desires. Lovemaking can be viewed as routine without the excitement and adventure that so frequently is portrayed in the media and online. These types of affairs generally occur as a result of the lack of sexual intimacy and tend to be sought mainly for sex.
Affairs, as you can see, can occur for many complex reasons.
How can couples counselling online help?
An affair does not mean that your relationship is over but it doesn't mean that you can brush the issues under the carpet and carry on without exploring the reasons for the affair.
Counselling for couples following an affair can be extremely beneficial and can provide:
- A safe and secure environment fo be able to express your emotions, concerns and worries for the future
- An opportunity for you both to talk constructively together about your relationship, something that could be a first for you both
- Support for you both in understanding why the affair occurred
- An opportunity to explore the changes you would like to make to your relationship and supports you in this change process
- An opportunity to re-establish trust within the relationship
- Encouragement for the rebuilding of a more satisfying relationship in which you both are able to get your individual needs met