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Ashley Madison and What It Means For Your Relationship

August 21, 2015
Posted By: Counseling Center of Cherry Creek
Marriage Counseling Denver CO

There has been a lot of buzz this week about affairs after the Ashley Madison scandal that broke.

Channel 7 News Denver even interviewed our own Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT to get her take on the situation.

Sadly, much of the substance of the conversation with the reporter was edited out. Here is what you missed...

Question: What do you think about Northglenn and why so many cheaters live there?

Answer: First of all, I wouldn't call them 'cheaters' -- people who are married often experience periods of loneliness even depression in marriage. Reaching out to engage in an affair or other addictive behaviors is a symptom of a larger problem. Northglenn is probably no different than any other neighborhood with a high concentration of married people -- when people feel hurt and lonely they will take steps to alleviate loneliness...and sometimes that is an affair.

"when people feel hurt and lonely they will take steps to alleviate loneliness...and sometimes that is an affair."

Question: So you are saying that it's okay to have an affair? That it is normal?

Answer: I am saying that it makes sense to me, given my expertise, that people would choose to find connection in whatever way that they can when they are feeling desperate. Loneliness is epidemic in our culture and many of use look to alleviate the pain in a variety of ways -- shopping, gambling, drinking, using drugs, compulsive eating...the list goes on and on. In our particular culture, affairs are seen as one of the worst things that a person can do because that is one of our cultural values. I see affairs as a symptom to a larger problem -- a problem that almost always involves both people in the marriage.

Question: If a woman suspects that her husband might have had an affair, should she look online to see if his name is on the Ashley Madison list?

Answer: If a woman suspects that her husband is having an affair, having a conversation with her husband would likely be a good course of first action. Affairs rarely just 'happen' out of nowhere. Most people who engage in an extra-marital relationship do so because the system of the marriage has broken down. Or, the partners have not developed in a healthy way to adequately address issues related to communication, trust, sexual dissatisfaction, power dynamics, etc. Affairs almost always happen when the system of the marriage has not been functioning for a period of time -- often a long period of time. An affair is a way of signaling that something has to change. And, often, couples do seek support and help after they discover an affair -- when ironically, one partner was often asking for couples counseling prior to the affair but it wasn't made a priority by one or both people.

Question: Are you saying that people can heal from affairs?

Answer: Absolutely. Doing the work in your marriage to heal after an affair takes a lot of commitment and willingness to face some aspects of your marriage that you likely have been reluctant to see for some time. This work, for some, is overwhelming or just not worthwhile. For those couples, divorce might be the best option [working with a Discernment Counselor to sort through this can help tremendously!] and that is a good and right decision for them.

For others, they want to heal from whatever it was that took them to create a marital system where an affair (or overspending, drinking, gambling, etc) could even be an option. We work with those couples to help them heal and create a marriage, that many say, is stronger than it ever was before the affair.

Question: If someone just discovered that their spouse has been cheating, what should they do?

Answer: It is very important to get support. Right now, you might be feeling overwhelmed, angry, distraught, and disbelief. It can feel like your world just stopped and you might be questioning everything that you believed to be true. These are the times when having someone who knows about affairs and healing can be vital to the weeks and months ahead.

Often what we see is the person who discovers the affair begins to talk with friends and family about what they have learned -- this of course makes so much sense because they are looking for support. What can be difficult however is that weeks or months into the healing process, the couple might decide to stay together and work on things and now their entire community knows about the indiscretion and has their own perspective on it which bring a entirely new dynamic into the situation.

If you decide to speak with friends or family, choose wisely who those people are. It feels really good in the moment for someone to share your outrage, shock and anger. But down the road if you decide to reconcile your well-meaning friend's emotions can contaminate your healing process.

Working with a trained therapist who maintains 100% confidentiality means that you have someone, for YOU, who can help you walk through these difficult days. Someone who is not inside the ecosystem that you live in. Someone who can understand and who can help you understand how the affair might have happened, what to do to heal, and next steps to put your life back together.

If you find yourself reading this now and you need support or guidance, call us.

We specialize in working with couples and our trained and licensed therapists are standing by to help you. Call (720) 457-3342 ext 0 and our Client Ambassador will get you connected with the therapist who is the best fit for you. Or, you can schedule online 24/7 by clicking one of the red buttons at the top of the page.

Don't wait another minute. Help get relief from your pain and confusion. We look forward to working with you!

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