I am asked all the time what the success rate in my office is when the presenting problem is infidelity. The answer is 100 percent.
It is also 100 percent for the other problems that people bring. How is this possible?
Coming for help is not easy. People generally don’t come unless there is a crisis. Of the people who do come, some don’t stay.
Some people feel so much guilt that they can’t tolerate hearing or believing that they did something wrong — which is what help is about. The help is about learning to do what works better. Some people hear suggestions of change as criticism.
Some people come with expectations that are unrealistic. This reminds me of the woman who came to see me in the hope that I would see her with the man with whom she was having an affair. She wanted me to convince him to leave his wife for her—which I would naturally do as it was obvious to her that he would be much better off with her. Needless to say, I declined.
Making changes takes time to happen. This is true for individuals, for couples, and for families. Guilt, shame, and unrealistic expectations may cause some people to leave the help they sought. BUT, for the people who stay and work on the problem(s) they brought, success is 100 percent!
This is a very bright population who desire a better life. They are well motivated and good at following suggestions and keeping agreements that they make with each other.
These are the people who stay the course and get the results that they want! I love working with them.
Recently I worked with a very difficult situation. Everyone had cheated. Hers was the payback affair. He continued to have temper tantrums about what SHE did. The kids came in as the fighting was so bad at home. It was awful!
However, when I asked who was the angriest, the kids said « mommie. ». I asked why they thought that. The answer: « mommie doesn’t hug daddy but he hugs her . ». I got it! Since mommie threw the last stone ( her affair) she had to hug often and initiate those hugs to address the rejection he felt. As soon as she started doing that things calmed down. In fact, the next crisis call I got was concerning the eleven year old. With things calm between the parents this oldest child could act like a budding teen. It was safe enough at home to do that!
I Find Marriages Like These Survive Infidelity!
The truth must come out, the infidelity must stop. The heartfelt apology must be made — repetitively — and last, the offended partner must come to understand how it happened. That partner must understand the world of the partner who cheated.
All this takes time and patience. The truth usually leaks out slowly. Any use of anger sounds retards the process. Even the hurt partner must change — the most difficult prescription of all!
That partner must learn what the offending partner was getting and do those things.
Dr. Frank Pittman wrote in his book on infidelity, "Private Lies", that it is useful for the couple and the affairee to all get together. I actually managed it once! Those two women compared notes on all the lies he told each of them! In the end, the wife got some useful insight about her husband that helped her bring him closer
That wife was excellent at keeping her eye on the goal which was to get him back into the marriage. She was wise and wanted him back. She felt angry but didn’t act it out.
That is the biggest difficulty — for men, living with an angry woman. That’s what happens when you hurt someone. But the anger has too take a backseat to the goal which is the healing.
In female infidelity, the issue is the pride of the husband. This was the issue in the situation I described. If pride is the issue, it is the biggest problem. Men in such circumstances need to see, even though the wife’s affair is NOT their fault, how they need to change. Anger that leads to infidelity doesn’t work. The question that must be asked is,” what did your partner say when you told him/her what was bothering you?”
Infidelity is not the fault of the marriage. However, everyone needs to change to make the marriage better to change the circumstance under which the trouble occurred.