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  • Writer's pictureMim Kempson

Cheating: how therapy can help in the repair

After a major betrayal like cheating, a couple can seek therapy. However, here are some considerations to keep in mind when deliberating between 1:1 or couples work.

Typically, it is the responsibility of the person who cheated to lead the emotional labour in the repair process.

This is NOT to say that the person who cheated doesn’t have valid things to say and be heard on, such as how they’ve been feeling in the relationship.

However, when that person stepped outside of the agreements they as a couple had set, they immediately took the right away from themselves to be heard in the same way than if they had’ve raised the conversation (such as about their unhappiness in the relationship) PRE cheating.

Only so much validation and space can be given to the person who cheated in couples therapy. Eventually, maybe. The person who cheated 100% deserves for their side to be heard - individual therapy is usually the best place for that to begin with. Sharing those feelings with the partner who was cheated on is often too soon, and can create more damage.

So often BOTH partners will need their own 1:1 therapy before or in tandem to couples work.

Individual therapy for the partner who cheated will probably explore what their unmet needs were, their barriers to communication, their own patterns/wounds around things like honesty, vulnerability and conflict.

Therapy for the person who was cheated on may centre on processing the feelings associated with the betrayal and exploring what an ideal repair for them may look like. It likely will also cover the hard question - stay or leave?

However, it is not their role to come up with all the answers and solutions to how to move forward, if both partners choose to. The majority of that part is a conversation for the couple to have - with the support of a therapist if they take that path.

Expecting ONE therapy to address ALL of what TWO cover collectively is ambitious - in the worst sense of the word.

Repairing from a rupture takes time, and multiple things.

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