February 10, 2024

Will marriage counseling help with infidelity?

A couple facing backwards after a discussion



  • Understanding infidelity 
  • Overview of marriage counseling
  • Infidelity and marriage counseling 
  • Success rates of marriage counseling for infidelity
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Understanding infidelity 

Infidelity, commonly referred to as cheating, is a common issues that impact many couple relationships and marriages. When someone goes outside of the promises of their marriage, it can have devastating impacts for the relationship due to the pain and mistrust that it can cause. Many couples will turn to marriage counseling to help them work through the painful emotions and mistrust in order to repair and heal from the infidelity. This article will provide an overview of how marriage counseling can help with infidelity. 

Having an understanding of infidelity is an important first step in knowing if marriage counseling can help with infidelity. When someone is unfaithful, they have usually engaged in either a sexual or romantic relationship with someone other than their partner. What makes it infidelity is that this secondary relationship is kept a secret in the marriage. 

Why would someone cheat? This is the most common question people ask themselves after there has been infidelity, and usually both partners in the marriage are wondering why the infidelity happened. Sometimes it is because the unfaithful partner felt unhappy, unfulfilled, or neglected in the marriage. Other times it’s related to personality traits of poor impulse control and low self esteem leading them to crave the attention of someone else. The cause can vary in different circumstances and it will be important to discover the cause over time in order to prevent infidelity in the future. Regardless of the cause, infidelity usually leads to deep feelings of sadness, anger, and betrayal for the injured partner. 

Overview of marriage counseling

Marriage counseling or couples therapy are a form of counseling that is focused on helping couples improve communication, resolve conflict, and build a better relationship foundation to navigate challenges as a team. In marriage counseling and couples therapy, couples meet with a licensed therapist whoo specializing in working with couples and families. The focus of the meetings will be to help the couple improve their relationship. There are several types of marriage counselings (learn about the most common types here). However, the type of marriage counseling that has the highest effectiveness in the research is called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) (learn more about how EFT works here and learn more about the effectiveness of EFT here). 

Therapist taking notes and listening to couple in couples therapy counselling session

Infidelity and marriage counseling

Can marriage counseling help with infidelity? The short answer is yes, but several factors may impact the effectiveness of marriage counseling for affair recovery.

  • First, it is helpful if both partners in the couple relationship are committed to improving the relationship and healing after infidelity. If one person wants to end the relationship or is not willing to engage in the work needed to heal from infidelity, the effectiveness will be diminished. 
  • Second, the severity of the infidelity may also impact the effectiveness of marriage counseling for healing from infidelity. Whether the infidelity was a one time event, a long lasting relationship over several years, or multiple casuals sexual encounters with multiple people, the length and type of infidelity may impact how challenging it may be to heal from the infidelity. 
  • The honesty and openness of the injuring partner will determine if marriage counseling can help with infidelity. Generally, it is easier for couples to repair after an affair if the injuring partner self-disclosed the infidelity versus the partner finding out. The level of transparency and honesty that the injuring partner has post the discovery of infidelity will also impact how much marriage counseling can help with infidelity.  
  • The skill level of the therapist will also impact if marriage counseling can help with infidelity. Not all therapists have the same level of training and so this is why it is important to work with a marriage counselor who specializes in working with couples and families and who ideally has a speciality in affair recovery . 

It is important to know that healing from infidelity is a process that takes time. Just like with a severe physical injury, it can take a while for healing to happen and for the pain to subside. You will want patience for the healing process as you work to rebuild trust and repair the relationship. 

It’s important to know that while infidelity is devastating, it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. Marriage counseling can help you rebuild trust and repair the relationship.

Success rates of marriage counseling for infidelity

In general, most couples decide to stay together after infidelity, and the couples who learn to communicate effectively and to work together on underlying issues tend to have more success in marriage counseling. While there are no quick fixes, the marriage counselor will help you  navigate and cope with the intense emotions that come up when infidelity is discovered or disclosed. The marriage counselor will also help you bot understand if there were any underlying relationship problem that led to the infidelity or that made the relationship more vulnerable to infidelity. Then you will work together to address any underlying problems and develop a plan for moving forward in the relationship. 

There are times when marriage counseling ay not be enough to help you recover from infidelity. If either partner is not committed to the process or refuses to take responsibility for their actions, then marriage counseling will be limited its ability to help you heal as a couple. In really severe cases such as addiction, intimate partner violence, and chronic ongoing affairs, individual mental health services may also be needed. Many couples recovering from infidelity also find that individual therapy, weekend workshops, intensive coupe therapy, group therapy or support groups can also be beneficial. When with all this support for your relationship, some couples still decide to separate or divorce when the pain is too much.

It’s important to know that while infidelity is devastating, it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. Marriage counseling can help you rebuild trust and repair the relationship.

Looking for marriage counseling to help with infidelity?

Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling can help! Liz provides online Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling, as well as weekend-long Marriage Intensives, throughout the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. Click the button below to schedule a complimentary consult. 

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    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.


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