A pattern of sexually acting out creates chaos in a marriage relationship, which affects the mental health of both the betrayer and the betrayed. Stabilizing the relationship is a priority, even if divorce is an option.
The old model for treatment of a couple with one partner acting out sexually and the other experiencing betrayal trauma was for them to each seek out individual therapy and to forestall any couples therapy or working together as a couple until there had been significant individual recovery for both parties.
The new best practice is for the couple to work together as soon as possible, providing: 1) there is no physical abuse and 2) the couple has not decided to divorce.
In the beginning, traditional marriage counseling is not advised. But there are many issues to navigate and the couple working together can help each other heal, and help put the relationship on the right foot to become fully restored.
Issues to navigate:
- therapist-guided full disclosure
- how to evaluate if your relationship is salvageable and what needs to happen for a successful restoration
- therapeutic separation, in house or out of house, if necessary
- what to do and what not to do to help your partner’s recovery
We like to work with couples early in the process, but we don’t do traditional marriage counseling in this scenario. We are following a specific plan for addiction and betrayal trauma recovery and preparing the couple for marriage counseling or helping the couple determine if the marriage should endure. We inform you thoroughly of the pro’s and con’s of this dual relationship, and it’s not necessary to proceed this way, but we have found it to be very successful.
For the betrayed partner, this helps with the very normal desire to control the process. The couples counseling gives you a chance to be involved with your partner’s recovery in a way that’s not threatening to either of your personal recoveries. It also will help you heal your trauma when your partner is empathizing with you and learning not to be reactive to your trauma processing.
For the perpetrating partner, this is extremely helpful. Relationship repair will be your mission in life; your hero’s journey. And we will help you be successful. Partner empathy is shown to be a very important component in addiction recovery. We teach the betraying partner empathy and to end the gaslighting, lying, denying, blaming which has likely been evident and escalated partner trauma.
We at Karuna have been through this personally. We’ve been through this with clients. We know exactly what to do to help guide you through this difficult journey.