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After the Affair

Two Case Studies Illustrate the Opportunities Moving Forward

Don-David Lusterman

By Don-David Lusterman - My goal is not merely to help these couples weather the crisis and patch things up, but to help them understand how both spouses created the marital context that made an affair possible, and how the crisis itself can be the spring board to a healthier, more satisfying relationship.

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Finding the Path Back

Couples Therapy After an Affair

Leo Fay

By Leo Fay - Every therapist knows that the disclosure of an extramarital affair can create an explosive crisis undermining the foundation of trust necessary to sustain a relationship. In the midst of that turbulence, our job is to help couples find a pathway to a new understanding of themselves and their marriage. Here's a protocol I've found especially helpful.

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So Your Client Is Having an Affair...

Should You Be a Secret-Keeper or is Honesty the Best Policy?

Michele Scheinkman

By Michele Scheinkman - Underlying the perceived magnitude of an affair is an idealized view of marriage as the "shelter" in our lives, with a primary function of providing emotional security and attunement. I've found it perplexing that, although we live in an ostensibly liberal and sexually permissive society, therapists typically have one-track minds regarding how to approach infidelity.

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January Quandary: Should I Keep One Partner’s Secret in Couples Therapy?

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Mark and his wife, Nicole, have been in couples therapy for almost six months. But Mark recently requested an individual session, where he revealed he recently shared a kiss with an old girlfriend and has plans to rekindle their friendship. He's asked his therapist to keep the whole thing a secret. Here's how five clinicians say they'd tackle the situation.

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When Male Partners Won't Open Up

Helping Closed-Off Men See Vulnerability as a Path to Healthier Relationships

George Faller

By George Faller - Many of our clients, especially men, believe in the traditional definition of vulnerability: a state of weakness that leads to being open to attack. But vulnerability is the language of emotionally connected beings, and like a powerful magnet, pain, doubt, fear, mistrust, and other vulnerable states bring forth new opportunities for deep intimacy and transformation, especially in work with couples.

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Should You Take Sides in Couples Therapy?

Why Psychotherapy's Views on Male Intimacy Need to Change

Terry Real

By Terry Real - The pressure to be hard, logical, independent, and stoic all too often sets men up to be emotionally distant, arrogant, and numb to their own feelings. These aren't pathological aberrations; they're the defining characteristics of manhood in our culture. That's why I break one of marital therapy's cardinal rules. I side with the woman.

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The Liberating Power of Honesty

What People Don't Know Can Hurt Them. What They Don't Reveal Can Hurt Even More

Frank Pittman

By Frank Pittman - When we therapists believe a secret's revelations would be dangerous, the client receives a frightening message about him- or herself and about the world. We may accept our patients and make psychodynamic, systemic or sociological excuses for them, while still conveying that their secret is unacceptable. Thus, while explicitly "supporting" them, we implicitly undermine their sense that they are fundamentally decent, acceptable people.

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Keeping Secrets When Everyone Already Knows Them

A Therapist in Small-Town America Struggles with New Ethical Dilemmas

Jan Michael Sherman

By Jan Michael Sherman - When my wife and I moved to a place in the Yukon so small that when someone sneezed at one end of town, someone at the other end reached for the Kleenex, I quickly found that practicing therapy could get pretty tricky. Not only did everyone know everyone else's business, everyone was in everyone else's business.

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Esther Perel’s Growing Cultural Presence

Expanding the Conversation on Couplehood

Lauren Dockett, Rich Simon

By Lauren Dockett and Rich Simon - By questioning some of the fundamental premises of traditional marriage, couples therapist Esther Perel has become, at least for the moment, psychotherapy’s public face and most quotable voice. But what is she saying that’s so intriguing and makes her stand out from all the other relationship experts our field produces?

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After an Affair, How Much Should Be Shared?

How to Have an Honest Discussion Without Accusations and Defensiveness

Shirley Glass

By Shirley Glass - How much to share and when to share are issues that confront every couple trying to recover from the discovery of infidelity. I actively structure the timing and the process of disclosure because I've found that revealing the details of an affair is seldom constructive in the presence of uncontrolled emotional intensity or unresolved ambivalence about the future of the marriage.

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