What are the other relationship benefits in completing the 7-Step program?
• A motivated couple can begin to explore their problems from a new perspective.
• They can learn new ways to recognize and resolve conflicts as a result of the tools provided by the therapist or infidelity recovery coach.
• Partners can improve communication that may have eroded the quality of their interactions. It’s common for couples to reach an impasse and lose the ability to be vulnerable and trusting of one another.
• It can provide “neutral territory” to help couples work through tough issues or to put aside “baggage” that prevents the couple from moving on.
• Couples can decide to rebuild their marriage and make a renewed commitment, or clarify the reasons why they need to separate or end the marriage.
In sum, for affair recovery counseling to be effective, the affair story must be told. After the processing of the betrayal, both partners need to be willing to take responsibility for their part in the problems, to accept each other’s faults, and to be motivated to repair the relationship. It’s important for couples to have realistic expectations because it takes more than a few sessions to shed light on the dynamics and to begin the process of change. Commitment to the program is paramount.
Should you stay or should you go?
There are no guarantees in life. While you may have committed to a relationship with your partner in the past, you may not wish to commit to a relationship moving forward. People change over time.
Now that you understand why the affair happened, and you understand what each other needs in a relationship, decisions can be made about moving forward. Do you still want to be in a relationship with your partner?
Divorce is the best option for some couples – especially if there is no love, no respect, and no friendship. For some couples, the 7-Step Program provides a path towards closure. The affair issues and questions have been covered, and now can be closed. The couple has a clear understanding of why the relationship failed.
Perhaps the decision is – Committing to the next 3 months. For example, if the affair type was sexual addiction, then the after care program would include sex addiction programs or therapy. The betrayed spouse would set some boundaries around deciding on the future of the relationship, based on the unfaithful partners commitment to aftercare programs & ongoing treatment for sex addiction.
If you commit to moving forward in the relationship – then move forward with a plan. Plan for success. Know your relationship weaknesses. Be ready to share affection and intimacy.
Be ready to take ownership for your own healing and personal growth. For the unfaithful partner, make a plan to work on personal and family of origin issues that often contribute to infidelity. Though the information can be disconcerting, it is important for the ongoing building of trust.
This information also helps rebuild the spouse’s intuition—their ability to trust themselves. Trust can only be given away when the “trust bank” is full.
The effect of affair type on moving forward
Exit Affairs – If the exit affair type has made it to Step 7, the couple is either prepared for separation or at the start of a complete relationship overhaul.
The Avoidance affair types and especially the Mid-life crisis affair usually develop in a void or a deficiency within the marriage. It is this “missing piece” that must be identified and integrated into the marriage in order to create highest levels of security and satisfaction. This is a painful exercise and subject to misinterpretation. The faithful spouse must ask themself
“If you can’t do anything different because you did everything perfect, (and the affair still happened), then you will have very little influence on whether or not it will happen again. However, if you can make a number of different contributions to this marriage, then you will feel more secure in the outcome and be surer of your influence. Your voice will matter.”
Many times these changes have already taken place by Step 7. Nevertheless, it often requires a difficult review of all the marriage was not providing. The very first forgiveness letter completed in Step 2 – The Affair Story, often identified a number of those items, but it is common for a number of new ones to surface as communication improves.
Sex Addicts can move forward to have a wonderful marriage, once the couple understands the nature of addiction.
Philanderers and Entitlement Affairs can also move forward from infidelity – once the couple understands the true needs of the other person. A new acceptable definition of monogamy is agreed upon.
How To Stay Committed In Your Relationship
Create a commitment statement, similar to a business or organization mission statement. A commitment statement outlines the purpose and goals for the marriage. It may also include rules and boundaries that strengthen the marriage and keep it safe.
Greet each other personally and physically each day. Not only does hugging and kissing feel good, it is a special gesture to reinforce the commitment of spouses.
Talk and stay connected about hopes, dreams, and goals. These topics are future-oriented; talking about the future can strengthen the current commitment.
Spend both quality and quantity time together. Making time for each other, just to check in or to have a date, can strengthen the bond and reinforce spouses’ dedication to the marriage.
Be best friends with your spouse. Friendship is a commitment.
Recognize that memories and traditions expand commitment. Doing special things together develops and honors traditions that are important to building meaning and significance in the marriage.
Share spiritual or religious activities together to help promote individual and relationship connection. Sharing spiritual practices can help a couple grow closer and strengthen each spouse’s commitment.
Value doing small acts of kindness for your spouse. While it may be easy to take advantage of what your spouse provides for the benefit of the relationship, everyone desires to feel acknowledged. Doing a chore, bringing home a special gift, or sending a loving note are all simple but effective ways of showing respect and dedication to your spouse and the marriage.
Talk about how you met and the many reasons you fell in love and decided to marry. Reflecting on the reasons for committing to one another in the first place can renew desire to capture and preserve the relationship.
Make intimacy a positive time for connection. This ultimate expression of commitment should be a special time that both spouses can look forward to.
The entire 7 Step Infidelity Recovery Program is designed around the rebuilding of trust by the commitment to working on the relationship; creating space for friendship & intimacy; setting new rituals; and changing the communication patterns.
Hopefully, the unfaithful partner has completed all exercises to end the affair and create transparency for the betrayed partner to feel “safe” and respected.
Trust will happen in time. Trust is built in the small moments – by the making and keeping of promises and commitments.
You may wish to revisit:
- The Affair Story
- Personal Healing
- Sex & Intimacy
- Emotional Needs
- Moving Forward