Infidelity: After an affair, who owns the relationship? 

Infidelity cases are typically presented as involving a selfish Betrayer and a heartbroken Betrayed. Or a deprived, desperate partner and an indifferent, withholding mate.

The self-identified Betrayed (or Deprived) pressures the therapist to see things this way, and most therapists go along with this narrative. But falling into this trap keeps us from being truly neutral and systems-oriented. Not only do we miss the pain of the Betrayer (or the Disengaged), we miss the various meanings of both partners’ behaviors.

That limits what therapy can accomplish , and it leads to client drop-outs.

Supporting the dignity and humanity of both parties gives a couple the best chance to reconcile. The common idea that the Betrayer has to beg forgiveness and accept whatever relationship the Betrayed demands (including disclosing passwords and monitoring emails) is a disservice to both parties. It reinforces separation rather than encouraging collaboration, and it typically leads to treatment failure.

Instead, in this webinar you’ll learn how to challenge patients’ stereotypes about both power and sexuality, how to sort out individual from relationship issues, and how to help both partners heal from experiences of powerlessness, grief, rage, and damaged self-esteem.

Instead of seeing infidelity as involving one selfish person and one victim, we’ll examine the following:

  • Why are affairs so common?
  • The typical belief that the Betrayed acquires power as a result of being betrayed
  • How much is sex an issue in most affairs?
  • Grief, rage, & shame: helping couples reconcile as partners rather than as adversaries
  • “That’s not infidelity, it’s just internet chat!”
  • Under what conditions should couples reconcile after an affair?
  • Pragmatically, what does forgiveness actually mean?
  • Why the “sex addiction” model makes things worse, not better
  • Helping couples draw boundaries around the wounded relationship
  • Existential issues that both parties must confront after an affair
  • Recognizing how countertransference and gender stereotyping may be undermining our work

Cellphone records, email passwords, intimate details of when & where—after an affair, does one person gain the right to whatever information they want? And even if they do, is demanding such information wise? Does the unfaithful person have to leave the house if the angry party demands it? Who decides if the children get told—and what they’re told?

In this webinar we’ll examine the nuts & bolts of relationships and how people construct narratives in the wake of actual or perceived betrayal.

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