Recovering from Infidelity - 2/18/09

Smartmarriages smartmarriages at
Mon Feb 18 10:29:42 EST 2008


This Associated Press article appearing in papers across the country this
week features great advice from experts Rick Reynolds, Jennifer Baker, John
Gray, and Barry McCarthy - all of whom will present at the Smart Marriages
San Francisco conference.

It leaves out Dave Carder and Anne and Brian Bercht.  I mention this because
Carder will present a Master session on his new book, Close Calls, which
gathers advice from couples who fell down the slippery slope about how to
stay away from the edge.  And the Berchts are presenting on the BAN program
which will receive an Impact Award in San Francisco. BAN is also based on
the premise that those that have been there are best equipped to help those
facing the pain of discovery and the challenges of recovery - that this is
definitely one of those times that we can best "get by with a little help
from our friends".  If there is not a BAN Network in your community, I
encourage you to attend the Bercht's session and/or visit the Infidelity
Prevention & Recovery Resources exhibit at Smart Marriages and learn how to
start one.   

For a list of the Infidelity Track at the San Francisco conference:

Also check the Infidelity You Can Recover page at:

 - diane 

Honesty, commitment help mend marriage after an affair
Feb 18, 2008 

Angela Gilbert always assumed she would leave any man who cheated on her. So
when the suburban San Antonio woman learned three years ago that her husband
was having an affair, she kicked him out and found a divorce lawyer.

Then she thought twice about making the break.

"What made me slow down was we had kids," she says.

The Gilberts join high-profile couples such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his wife, Carlita, who haven't thrown in
the towel after one spouse engaged in questionable behavior.

It takes honesty and work to recover from such a crisis, but Jennifer Baker,
director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Forest Institute in
Springfield, Mo., says she sees more couples willing to work with marriage
counselors to save their relationships.

"I think people would be surprised how often it does not lead to a divorce,"
she said.

All honesty

Repairing a relationship requires openness and candor from the person who

"He has to admit that he made a mistake and recognize the hurt of betrayal
and say, 'I want to be faithful,' " says author John Gray, who examines
relationship problems in his latest book, "Why Mars and Venus Collide." The
person who cheated needs to end the affair and take responsibility, he said.

The adulterer must be willing to disclose all the details of his affair and
agree to new degrees of openness, says Rick Reynolds, founder of the Affair
Recovery Center in Austin, Texas.

The new rules might include sharing e-mail and voicemail passwords, being
constantly accessible by phone and checking-in regularly with a spouse.

Angela Gilbert requires her husband to take an annual lie detector test.

"I don't trust him the way I did before," she says. "I feel safe because of
the measures we put in place."

At first, Chris Gilbert resented the new rules. But he's gone along with it.

"Deep down, you know it's for the best," says Chris Gilbert, 36.

Give and take

It's not always just the spouse who committed the transgression who has to
change after an affair if a marriage is to recover.

Often, it's difficult for the betrayed party to consider what he or she
could have done that may have helped lead to the affair, says Meg Haycraft,
a Chicago couples specialist who founded a practice called TWOgether. That's
not to say someone can blame their partner for an affair, she added.

Gilbert says she responded to her husband's concerns that she was too rigid
about the family's schedule and too overprotective of their children.

"He told me I wasn't fun anymore, and he was right," she said.

And to move on, she has had to act carefully, too.

"He knows that I have forgiven him, and I don't feel I have some special
right to act inappropriately because of what he did," says Gilbert, 36.

Move forward

Haycraft often asks couples to chart their marital history and look at what
caused the high and low points in the relationship.

The process often creates a "heightened awareness" of tendencies and events
that might trigger a partner to "shut down, check out or look outside the

Couples also need to discuss how long they will allow an affair to define
their marriage.

"You have to set up ground rules," Haycraft says. "How long can the person
who's been cheated on keep the subject of the affair alive? It is a part of
the healing process; you've got to put it behind you."

It takes about 18 months for the hurt spouse to work through all the
emotions that come with an affair, said Reynolds, who worked with the

He counsels the spouse who cheated to answer any question his or her partner
has. But he also sets a date when the questioning must end.

Reynolds also warns the other spouse to be careful when asking for details.

It's good advice, Angela Gilbert says.

"I think I went overboard," she says. "There's information I don't want to
have in my head for the rest of my life."

Preventive measures

The best medicine for an affair should come before one takes place. Just as
young couples talk about finances and children before the wedding, many also
discuss adultery, Gray says.

"They want to be assured, 'You're on the same page with me -- that you want
to be faithful and monogamous.' "

Some premarital counselors encourage couples to talk openly about their
temptations, said Barry McCarthy, a psychologist and professor of American
University in Washington, D.C..

"Rather than say this could never happen to me, talk about what could make
you vulnerable," he said. "Talk about what it would mean to your spouse."

He suggests couples share the details of any flirtations or temptations
within 24 hours.

"What happens is the cover-up becomes worse than the event," he said. "Lies
thrive in secrecy."

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