I have been working with a couple for 9 months, with little progress. The lack of progress has mainly been due to the betraying spouse's feeling she doesn't have to be the primary healer of the relationship. After nine months, she continues to justify the affair because of the disconnection of the marriage prior to the affair.
The betrayer believes she is punished since she has to take on the role of the healer. Also, she laments about the negative consequences of the affair and believes the consequences should be over.
Any advice or similar experiences?
Hi, Debra. Sorry for the delayed response. (Just got back into town last night.)
One of two things have to happen in order for the relationship to start progressing. The preferred change would be for the unfaithful spouse to shift in her awareness of her responsibility for the affair by gaining more insight into her own "stuff" or by exploring a more empathetic response to her husband's betrayal. The other change would be for the betrayed spouse to sacrifice expectations, at least for a while, for his wife to make these shifts. Sometimes it takes time for that to happen, although the longer it takes, the more complicated recovery becomes.
My recommendation would be to combine joint sessions with at least 1 or 2 individual sessions to focus on those issues.
The real proof that the wife is committed to the marriage will be in her willingness to work on making renewed connections with her husband, demonstrating love and honesty. IF she is willing to do her part in this, then that work will begin to soften her heart and the "breakthrough" may eventually come. If she is not willing to do that (and continues to blame him for the affair and the state of the marriage), then this couple will never experience intimacy and trust.
He'll eventually have to decide if he's willing to accept that kind of marriage.