Betrayal Trauma and Affair Counseling Colorado Springs, CO
Affairs and trauma rupture trust and undermine the very foundation on which committed relationships are built. Betrayal destroys trust and commitment. Using the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy (GMCT) Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment model, couples will learn how to move beyond the betrayal and begin to rebuild trust and commitment in their relationship.
In the first stage of recovery, atonement involves being able to. They must witness the pain they have caused because of the affair. As the victim experiences pain, the perpetrator must listen and validate the victim partner’s anger, sadness, and trauma without defensiveness. They respond with kindness, gentleness, and understanding. The perpetrating partner sacrifices their immediate needs for their partner.
In the Atonement phase, the therapist works to keep the process constructive to avoid worsening the Hurt partner’s trauma. The betrayer sacrifices and witnesses the hurt partners pain of betrayal. The therapist suggests that the Hurt partner not ask questions about types of sex during the affair to avoid more traumatizing images to the hurt partner. The therapist does not down‐regulate or minimize emotions in this phase. However, they may need to differentiate negative emotions from criticism and contempt and help the Hurt partner to express feelings without them.
In this phase of Betrayal Trauma and Affair Counseling, the couple does not talk about why the affair occurred. It is premature to do so. Discussing it too early may encourage the Betrayer partner to blame the affair on their low marital satisfaction, and the Hurt partner to engage in self-blame. During this phase, both the hurt partner and the betraying partner experience empathy and understanding.
Attunement follows in the second stage of recovery. Couples learn to process past failed bids for connection and conflict so they can understand how communication went wrong. Both affair-oriented and non-affair-oriented events are reviewed, without dealing with the affair as a whole, but rather as particular incidents within the affair. Indirectly, the couple begins to understand why the affair occurred. Common relationship realizations may surface where:
- both partners have turned away from each other, engaged in negative comparisons, invested less in the relationship
- they become less dependent on the relationship to get their needs met
- The betraying partner may have engaged blame-shifting and gaslighting
- Betraying partner may have stayed open to or even encouraged flirtation with others, and crossed boundaries
These discoveries are not used to accuse or blame the hurt partner for the affair; instead they bring to account behaviors and begin to rebuild honesty. This processing may also lead to more self-disclosure and vulnerability related to deeper needs and awareness that each partner felt lonely and abandoned during the marriage. In this phase, couples begin to make bids for connection where vulnerability and trust are re-established.
In the final stage of Betrayal Trauma and Affair Counseling, couples begin to move towards attachment. The prescription for betrayal is establishing trust and commitment through honesty and vulnerability. Couples talk purposefully about what values give their lives meaning, what dreams they have for their future individually and together, and their goals for fulfilling those dreams.
The therapist assists couples in rekindling passion, romance, and their sex life. Research shows that couples who talk about their sex life have more satisfying intimacy over time. Once the hurt partner feels enough trust and safety with their partner, a sexual relationship can begin. Couples design specific rituals of connection to integrate regularly into their relationship. Partners choose times, places, and ways to connect predictably. Rituals of connection may be significant, like celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, major holidays, or smaller, like how partners say good-bye every morning before work, and reunite at the end of their day. Rituals of connection sustain friendship, closeness, and emotional intimacy. Finally, in Betrayal Trauma and Affairs Counseling, couples talk about their future together.