Many couples decide that they want to be in a monogamous relationship and commit to being faithful to their partner (in theory). The challenge comes in when the initial stage of the relationship is over and couples begin the next phase of the relationship which is, “the taking each other for granted phase”. This is a naturally occurring phase, and it happens to the best of couples. Just when you feel safe and secure in your relationship, you tend to let down your guard and “settle in”. Settling in is wonderful but unfortunately, this process can bring with it other unattractive components such as, trying to control the other partner, needing to be right all the time, punishment, resentment, boredom, distance, etc. For those that have children, needing to take care of the immediate needs of the child become priority and can add even more relationship challenges, in addition to the happiness from becoming parents.
For some, this phase, and the others that follow, leads them down the path of exploring sex and/or risky relationships outside the union. Let’s again go back to the couples initial “contract”: to be faithful. There can be costly consequences for having an affair or indiscretion which may present in the form of extreme stress, relationship trauma and chronic illness, divorce, separation, etc. For couples who co-own property and also co-parent; the stakes are even higher! The partner “it happened to” feels a lack of respect and disappearance of trust, and it can now feel like a toxic relationship. The partner who engaged in the behavior outside of the relationship, can either want to move forward,or feels conflicted in regard to their attachments to their affair partner and their spouse. We now enter the next phase: punishment, threats, withholding, resentment, depression, grief. There are couples that move toward healing, acceptance, and learning to create a system to support each other when they feel triggered about the affair.
You’ve just discovered the affair, what next? You’ve been lied to and now your partner tells you they want to stay with you? It’s like taking your brain and putting it in a blender along with your heart. For many clients it feels like, “too little, too late”.
I had a new client tell me on the phone today, “I heard that you deal with relationships that are basically done, and mine is broken and I don’t think it’s fixable”. I said that I was very interested to meet both partners and begin the dialogue of helping them both discuss each of their reasons to stay and reasons to go in this relationship. Once both partners feel like they have been heard, then it may be possible for them to transition to Couples Counseling. For Couples Counseling to work, both partners have to have a sense that they both want to stay together. If at least one partner does not believe they can stay together, then move to Discernment Counseling, until we get shed more light on things. Providing a confidential space, such as my office, allows my clients the forum to openly discuss the pain, devastation, hope, and possible renewal that can come along with infidelity.
I provide confidential sessions and my clients make progress! I have been married for 25 years, and believe in “turning over every stone” in the relationship to see if we can re-launch. I offer an initial phone consultation to each partner , please leave me a confidential voice mail or text, and I will contact you to discuss your concerns.
Kelley Hopkins-Alvarez, LPC, NCC, MS, MSEd www.KelleyHopkinsAlvarez.com
Couple, Individual and Family Therapy
Licensed Professional Counselor
100B Danbury Road, Suite #201D (2nd floor), Ridgefield, CT 06877
Phone: (203) 948-0938 firstname.lastname@example.org