Couple Relationships Part 1: Surviving the Fallout from an Affair

Couple Relationships Part 1: Surviving the Fallout from an Affair

In the first of this three-part podcast series – lead psychotherapist and Founder at The Place Retreats, Jean-Claude Chalmet, discusses the interesting dynamic between couples and relationships. 

During the interview, Jean-Claude highlights the value that couples therapy can bring and explains that with the right type of therapy and guidance, couples can overcome most things, including the fall-out from an affair.  

Click here to listen to the full interview.

He explains that ‘the divisions of a 60/40 relationship do not apply’ and that people must go beyond their hurt to move forward with the relationship.

Recorded at his clinic in London, Jean-Claude responds to guests’ questions around this subject while gifting us with his ever-present soothing demeanour.

My partner had an affair which ended as soon as I found out. We want to stay together but how can I ever trust them again? I feel so betrayed, angry and hurt.

Firstly, the most important thing to do is to acknowledge what has happened. Ask yourself: ‘’What was each of your contributions to this situation?’’ 

And if you and your partner have decided to stay together, do you want to continue as the angry, resentful partner or forgive and move forward with the relationship?

Unfortunately, if people can’t go beyond their hurt, then there is nothing not even the best therapist in the world can do. Jean-Claude explains that for couples wanting to stay together, there are two important things they must do:

First, the partner who has been hurt must work towards going beyond feelings of anger, betrayal and resentment.

And second, the partner who has had the affair must accept that for the next few years – they’ll most likely be under the microscope. Trust is something that can regrow, explains Chalmet, but it’s going to take time.

People can’t just stay in a relationship as the injured party. How do you suggest they cope?

Not unless they enjoy playing the victim role, and this is something we encounter a lot in our practice. What we know about anger is that it’s a wonderful shield to hide behind. But people need to be aware of how they express their hurt, which usually shows up as anger, bitterness and resentment. And on the other end of the scale, through anxiety and paranoia. 

When you have a couple where someone else is involved – there is usually a lot of pain to deal with. And couples need to be willing to express that pain to be able to move past the unpleasant feelings. It’s also important for individuals experiencing feelings of deep resentment to ask themselves: Is this the person I want to be? 

It’s very unlikely that couples can navigate all this alone. So for those couples, does therapy have to happen?

Couples can’t navigate this type of situation alone explains Jean-Claude. People need someone that can call ‘time-out’ when things get heated. And the beautiful thing about couples therapy is that they can reserve those deep feelings for when they are here in the therapy room. 

Very often, I tell clients to write their feelings down and bring what they have to therapy. In this way, their systems will soon learn that they have a safe outlet to express any overwhelming feelings they might be experiencing. And they can do all this here at the clinic.

Chalmet also makes a point of saying that couples must be willing to work towards an end goal instead of staying in the moment of anger and resentment.

You mentioned that the person who has had the affair will have to accept there’s going to be a lot of scrutiny and distrust. How can couples work through this?

I always say the same thing to my clients both at our London and Bali Retreat Centres which makes them smile wryly: ‘’Therapy is cheaper than divorce.‘’ At The Place, we help people work through feelings of hurt and anger by asking them important questions such as:

Are they capable of going beyond their hurt to really see the other person? Is there a willingness to work with each other? Also, can they communicate with their partner and allow themselves to be vulnerable again despite everything that’s happened?

Jean-Claude concludes our discussion with some very wise words to reflect on: 

‘’Couples must look at relationship challenges as an opportunity to reflect and appreciate the amazing journey they’ve been on. To be able to look back and say to each other – wow, look at what we have overcome together.’’

The Place offers couples retreats where couples have the opportunity to fully express themselves and communicate their needs in a safe space.

If you think you’re ready to take the initial step, then please get in touch. We’d love to help.