EMDR – Happily Ever After the Affair
Helping Couples Heal
I found this helpful article about how EMDR can help couples heal from the effects of an affair. The author explains how the ugly truth is that affairs happen and why. She talks about the loneliness, hurt, rejection, and breakdown in communication that often lead up to one partner betraying another. She explains why most affair relationships don’t work out in reality; only 2.5% only work out into lasting marriages. She tells us how couples can often have a stronger relationship after working through an affair. Combining couples counseling with EMDR can be a much more effective way of helping both partners in the recovery process.
For Partners Hurt
Both partners are often in shock in the aftermath of the affair. For the partner who was hurt in the process they generally experiences these three emotions:
- Shattering of Reality: The hurt partner who is blight sighted suddenly questions everything about the nature of their reality. They have to abruptly orient themselves into a new reality that they cannot fully understand. They often feel “like a fool,” humiliated and ashamed. Terry Real compares this to leaning on a wall expecting the wall to support you and falling right through it. One of the first steps toward healing in the creation of a safe space where the hurt partner is able to ask questions to help them fill in pieces of their distorted reality.
- Violation of Specialness: The hurt partner experiences betrayal and feels violated because the sacred bond of trust was broken. The intimacy, sex, and emotional closeness that they had experienced in the marriage has now been experienced elsewhere. The hurt partner can end us feeling like that they were just replaceable goods, scattered to the wind, without valuable. EMDR takes the traumatic aspects out like removing a splinter. When trauma occurs, the left brain shuts down, leaving a person feeling paralyzed and nonfunctional. In EMDR Therapy, we use bilateral stimulation to reprocess the traumatic experience. In essence, the left brain tells the right brain: “it’s over, you’re safe now” so that the trauma can move through and release. While the person still needs to grieve the loss, they no longer feel stuck.
- Broken Trust: In the aftermath of an affair, the hurt partner is left feeling “Are you who I thought you were?” and “How can I ever trust you again?” In this space, EMDR is extremely helpful because in healing specific hurts, and creating long lasting shifts. Going forward, EMDR can neutralize triggers, eliminate shame, release anger, and help to regain a sense of value and positive image.
For the Involved Partner
EDMR also helps the involved partner in several key ways:
- The involved partner develops an understanding that they don’t have to keep beating themselves, they just need to be a compassionate listener.
- EMDR helps them release their shame, guilt, and feelings of helplessness in the face of their partner’s pain. They learn tools to constructively move forward in the relationship, gaining insight into themselves as to why they had the affair in the first place.
- EMDR can also help the partner who formed an attachment with their affair partner, to grieve the loss of that relationship.
Happily Ever After
As long as both partners are committed to the process of looking at themselves, understanding what led up to the affair, and are willing to do the work of therapy, couples can actually have a deeper and more intimate relationship after and affair.
About EMDR Therapy
EMDR Therapy can help at any stage of in the aftermath of an affair. Whatever stage you’re in, EMDR will take you to the next level. It doesn’t matter if you if you’re still involved in affair, just been caught, or in the aftermath and wanting to reconcile with your partner. EMDR is very powerful because as it quickly resolves the layers of trauma, releases the emotional distress, and reducing the desire to act out in anger or addiction. Many people experience EMDR as an “effortless process” and find their distress lessening spontaneously.
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of an affair, please reach out to me via my contact page.