Infidelity, Discernment and Divorce Counseling
THERAPY FOR COUPLES IN CRISIS
Therapists can help you rethink infidelity and relationship crises. It doesn’t have to be the end, make it a new beginning. Otherwise consider our discernment counseling.
Counseling for Distressed Couples: Infidelity, Discernment and Divorce Counseling
Are you finding yourself at a crossroads in your relationship?
Whether you are feeling fear, shame, insecurity, jealousy, or guilt you know that you need something to change. The cause of these feelings may be an affair, a lie or any other “deal breaker” that has left you desperate for a solution. No matter the cause, the future of your relationship hangs in the balance of what you will do now.
Typically, the longer the relationship and more intertwined your lives are, the more difficult it is to even imagine a life apart going forward. Some couples find divorce particularly difficult to talk about when they have kids caught in the middle of it. You probably find yourself staying awake at night wondering “what can i even do at this point?” You always said that if your partner cheated you would leave, no exceptions, but now that you find yourself in this position you start to wonder if you can follow through with that ultimatum.
As difficult as this situation may be for you, we at Acuity are rethinking typical crisis situations like infidelity. Where messages in the media and friends may put their noses in a relationship and urge for divorce as quickly as possible, we understand that relationships are more complicated than that.
In fact, couples at a crisis point in their relationship are the most ready for the radical actions that they need to take to save their marriage (or relationship).
They find themselves realizing that “Now the worst possible thing that could happen in my relationship has happened, maybe this is our rock bottom, maybe we realize he/she/we need to change.”
After all it is only once partners realize the importance of change that any improvement can be made. Let’s also be clear, after any infidelity, you must ask for help from outside the relationship. The typical healing methods within a relationship are closed off.
We offer Couples Counseling for:
Our Clinicians also help with:
- Preparing for Partnership & Premarital Counseling
- Life Transitions (beginning, ending or changing your relationship status)
- Marriage Counseling
- Relationship Discernment Counseling
Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:
If you come to our offices for infidelity counseling, we understand that every couple is different and we will adjust our therapy to meet your expectations. Typically we spend our first few sessions discussing the history of your relationship and the infidelity. This is also where our therapist will set some ground rules so that both partners can feel safe to communicate openly.
We will also make it clear that the unfaithful partner must atone for their actions, but still both sides should be heard and clearly understood throughout the process.
In the first few sessions we may meet one-on-one with each partner, but most sessions will be done together.
Crisis Relationship Counseling May Help In These Situations:
- Emotional infidelity
- Financial infidelity
- Breach of trust
Beyond these specific issues, your relationship is in crisis if it is on the verge of ending, you feel unsafe or one partner is deeply unsatisfied.
Every Relationship Will Have a Crisis Or Marital Problems
40% of marriages face a challenge with infidelity (sexual or emotional)  at some point in their relationship.
When it comes to divorce 50% of divorces cite infidelity as a cause. So as rare as it is for us to talk about infidelity or other major relationship crises, many people face serious challenges in their marriage.
More broadly when it comes to marriage and relationships, most of us aren’t aware of the red flags that require immediate action. We aren’t taught what healthy relationships look like and we get our ideas about love and marriage mostly from movies. Trained relationship experts (like us at Acuity) are able to see relationships for what they are, and point out issues before they develop into major crises. Unfortunately many of the issues that lead to infidelity are ones that could have been caught with the proper eye.
So seeing relationships for what they are, we at Acuity know that many marriages survive (and even can be strengthened long-term) by infidelity. As difficult as it is, it isn’t something to be ashamed of, but rather can mark a new beginning. We’ve worked with many couples and know what that new beginning looks like. Our approach starts with redefining infidelity.
Just as we can redefine infidelity to be broad, we can also redefine what the consequences of infidelity should be. If a relationship is a contract, breaking that contract doesn’t have to void the entire thing. Instead it can be the start of repair. We know that staying together through the crisis doesn’t make you a doormat for accepting the situation, but a fighter for wanting to change it.
When we think of infidelity, we often think of a partner having intercourse with someone else against our wishes. But really we should think of infidelity as being unfaithful or disloyal to your partner by breaking the terms of the relationship (similar to a contract). Many people wouldn’t think of a relationship like a contract, but when you get down to it, that’s what it is.
The odds of infidelity increase when you have never explicitly discussed the boundaries of the relationship. This means your expectations, boundaries and roles in your relationship.
For example, is talking with another woman in flirty/romantic language on a chatroom infidelity? Well most would say no, but if the other partner feels that this is breaking the terms of their relationship, then according to us it is. This may be because the other partner (let’s say the wife) expects the “unfaithful partner” to provide that emotionally romantic attention only to her. That by talking with a stranger in such a way, it is crossing the boundary of their relationship.
Looking for the Red Flags? Why do People Cheat?
If we look at the example above, instead of only saying “what he did was wrong, he hurt me and that means that we have to end this relationship” (Which is understandable to say), we should also ask “why?” Why did he (or people in general) cheat? Often infidelity happens after many other causes. For example, most partners who have cheated feel that they have fallen out of love (or lost the spark) with their partner. This is one of the most important red flags that we deal with. You can read more about our approach to loss of intimacy here.[LINK]
Others feel neglected, bored or not desired in their relationship (strongly connected with loss of intimacy). Some consider their relationship to be sexless and seek sex elsewhere feeling that their partner is not meeting their needs for physical attention.
Some cheat because they have issues with their self-esteem and consider cheating as a way to prove their value. Some claim that they were put in an unlikely situation (which even if that was the case, is just the final straw, where one of the previous reasons tends to be the deeper cause).
Infidelity = not feeling valued + not valuing the relationship.
Often we can find ourselves trapped in a relationship where our needs are not met by our partner. If you don’t have diplomatic communication skills this can be difficult to bring up with your spouse, and so as a result many “good people” find themselves unfaithful. As hard as it may be after the fact, discussing your relationship and building better communication skills can work wonders to “save” the unfaithful. See more about communication here [LINK].
Notably discernment counseling can be helpful after an infidelity. If one partner is strongly hoping to end the relationship and the other feels that there is more to be done to save it, discernment counseling helps couples come to a consensus on a path forward that best suits them.
Discernment Counseling: For Those Considering Divorce
For partnerships where one or both partners are separated, apart or seriously considering divorce, but looking for one last intervention that may change things, discernment counseling is a good option. The point of our discernment counseling is not to try and save the relationship like our other counseling options, but to determine whether the relationship is worth saving.
Because the focus is so limited, these sessions range from 1-5 sessions. Typically the outcomes that we hope to come to agreement on are whether divorce, no change in relationship or a serious commitment to couples counseling is the best course of action for everyone involved. We help you work through the messages you are receiving about your relationship from clergy, friends, family and (importantly) each other (more about discernment counseling).
Frequently Asked Questions for Couples in Crisis
Will you take sides?
Generally no. We understand that both in a couple need to be challenged in a relationship. While sometimes one partner can contribute more to relationship issues, the solution takes work from both sides. At times we may ask more of one partner to reconcile for a past wrong, but we work hard to keep our counseling simultaneously challenging and unbiased.
Should I come to counseling with my partner or alone?
Most of our counseling for couples in crisis is based on both partners being in the same room, sharing their experiences and expectations and responding to each other.
While we do have occasional sessions one-on-one, most sessions are done together. Our couples counseling is most effective when both partners want to come to therapy, and both want and are ready to make a change in the relationship.
Discernment counseling is best if one partner has one foot out the door, while our individual counseling for relationship issues is best if one partner has completely written off the relationship and has no desire to change.
Individual counseling for relationship issues is also best for the periods after couples interventions have failed (it helps people to cope with the grief of divorce for example.)
When should I walk away?
While each couple is different, there are a couple signs that walking away may be best for your situation.
For example, if you have had significant breaches of trust or boundaries in your relationship, you have made it clear that you expect change, and yet your partner refused to listen or discuss it in therapy, it may be time to leave. Essentially if your partner is unwilling to even consider the possibility of changing, remaining in that relationship will only cause you more distress.
If you are uncertain personally as to what that means for your life and emotional state, talk with one of our individual relationship counselors.
Should We Consider Non-monogamy/Kink?
We at Acuity are open minded to all relationship forms. While this page has been written with a focus on monogamous pairs, we also do relationship counseling across all types of relationships.
Some couples are already non-monogamous or kink friendly when they come to therapy, and yet they have the same feelings as couples not in that arrangement. Changing your relationship structure won’t solve all of your problems, while doing deeper emotional work is successful across all types of relationships.
That in mind, entering into a non-monogamous relationship entails a lot of pitfalls (or landmines) requiring some extraordinary communication, empathy and emotional skills that few couples have on their own. Often what works best for couples is setting clear expectations and entering into such an arrangement equally (no emotionally challenging one-sided non-monogamous relationships) which tends to work best.
Even still it can be best to talk with a couples counselor before jumping into this blind. We know the most common missteps that couples take and can help you anticipate these.
Which therapist is right for me?
Let us help you find the right therapist. Many of our therapists specialize in anxiety, so view our profiles online to learn more about specific counselors specializing in anxiety treatment or speak with our Client Care Coordinator, who can help you with a personalized match to the right therapist for your needs.
Finding the RIGHT therapist is the most important piece of reaching your goals.
How long does Therapy take?
Counseling works best within the framework of a safe and trusted therapeutic alliance. Since it takes time to build this relationship with your therapist, we recommend committing to weekly sessions for at least 8 weeks. Research shows that consistency adds to the positive outcomes of therapy. Once you reach your 8-week goal, you and your therapist can discuss a frequency of sessions that will support your continued success.
I’ve never done therapy before...What can I expect in my sessions?
The unknown of anything new can make it scary. Especially if you’ve never been to counseling before. Let us show you the “roadmap” so you know what to expect:
This first meeting is an introduction for both you and your counselor. Your therapist will explain the therapy process and go over the specifics of informed consent. From there, your therapist will gather additional information about your history, current circumstances, as well as struggles and personal strengths, which will help them to define a treatment plan that aligns with your goals.
This is also the chance for you to learn more about your therapist. We encourage you to ask questions and get to know them; the relationship you build with your therapist will be the most important part of your work together.
2nd Session and Future sessions:
In your weekly sessions, you and your therapist will use evidenced based therapies such as CBT, Mindfulness or ACT, to help you address your symptoms of worry, stress and anxiety. For anxiety rooted in trauma, or related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), your therapist may recommend treatment with EMDR.
Our goal is for you to find relief from your anxiety and be ready to “graduate” from therapy. In the last few sessions with your therapist, you will review your initial goals, the progress you have made, and solidify your new skills for managing anxiety in your life. At your last meeting together, you’ll have the time for the meaningful goodbye with your therapist.
How much does Counseling cost?
We strive to create access to high quality mental healthcare for everyone. Our therapists’ rates vary by experience and specialized training. We will make every effort to find the right therapist for you.
Acuity Counseling also accepts health insurance and offers both in-network and out-of-network coverage.
We are in-network partners with:
* We do not participate in EAP plans
Why don’t you only use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
While we use CBT as an aspect of our therapeutic approaches, we know that every individual is different. No one responds to any method perfectly, so by employing many techniques we are able to provide the most personalized support. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is talked about in relation to mental health so often because it has a large body of research behind it and is easy to replicate across all cases. This is why you may hear it called “evidence based,” which it certainly is. However, we use other evidence based therapies in conjunction with CBT in our therapies.
How can I evaluate whether therapy is working?
Acuity is unique because we use research backed questionnaires to assess your mood, goals and progress. From time to time we may share with you your progress on these reports, “you report being angry 30% less days than when you started therapy,” and then ask what your goals for the future may be. We have found that by having clients set their own goals and following up regularly we can achieve better results.
If I go to Acuity for help, does it mean there is something wrong with me?
No. We try to break this stigma constantly.
Many people come to Acuity just to gain a better perspective of themselves and work on some issues that they are having in their daily life. There aren’t many places for people to vent and seek honest help, so we provide that space for people as well as psychologically informed advice to better cope with life’s persistent problems. Even if you have a mental health diagnosis there is nothing wrong with you. We all experience and react to the world in different ways, it’s hard to argue that there is anything wrong with that.
Is medication used in conjunction with your therapy?
Some conditions for some people are best treated with the help of medication. If we find it necessary after our initial assessments, we will discuss types of medication, your comfort with it, and the pros and cons of medication with you. If you so choose, we can refer you to the appropriate psychopharmacologist in the area. If you are already on medication, we will coordinate treatment with your primary provider.
Break-free and begin your journey to
There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.
Acuity Counseling can help.
Schedule your therapy session online
Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:
Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.
If you have questions and would like to talk about any of our counseling services, please reach out for a complimentary phone consultation or send us an email.
First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling
We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.
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