SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Licensed therapist Stacy Hall spends most days working with couples helping them heal from the wounds of infidelity.
"Both emotional and physical affairs are never purely about sex," she said. "Most people cheat because their emotional needs are not being met at home."
"Instead of learning to address deeper issues, those who end up cheating on their partner often find away to escape their own stressful reality by living a lie and searching for ways to fulfill a need," Hall continued. "Many do so, by turning outside their marriage to cope."
That's why learning how to express emotional needs is the key to keeping your relationship healthy. Learning to address and express these needs often requires a skill most people aren't wired with and that leads them to therapy.
Hall says we all have a basic need for a safe and secure bond in relationships.
When someone cheats, emotional safety dies, killing any feeling of security and trust among both partners.
You can repair broken bonds
Repairing the broken bonds after an affair is hard work, but Hall says healing is possible. She has seen it in her work with couples who have sought out therapy.
"The injured partner is guided to share emotional pain from the betrayal in a way that invites the partner who cheated to lean in and really hear about the pain that was caused, and then really receive it," she said.
Depending on the extent of betrayal, couples who choose to work through the pain of infidelity
must understand the process of sharing typically needs to happen over and over and over again. Though this process may sound dreadful, Hall says she's witnessed couples enjoy true happiness in the end.
If the person who cheated seems defensive, Hall says this is tied to unhealthy shame. That's why it's imperative for the person who cheated to work with a therapist on his or her own, to face and process that shame. The objective here is to allow the person who cheated, o eventually become a healing presence in his/her partner’s life.
Over time, the person who was betrayed will begin to trust again and a new association will be created allowing the person who cheated to become a safe and caring partner.
That secure base is created when both partners learn, they really can turn to each other again, to share hurts and disappointments in a way that won't be criticized.
By doing so, emotional interactions will lead to a new way of communicating where both partners are able to have their needs met.
Stacy E. Hall is an Arizona certified and Licensed Professional Counselor.