I heard on the radio that there were more people in Grand Rapids who signed up for an account on the Ashley Madison website than voted in our last Mayoral election. That thought stuck with me. As a Licensed Psychologist who specializes in couples work in Grand Rapids I couldn’t help but wonder what the impact of this might be on folks in our city.

Over the years of conducting couples counseling I have worked with plenty of couples post-affair. The first thing I think you should know is that while an affair certainly can mean the end of a relationship, it doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship.

Surviving the AffairWhen a couple enters counseling after an affair is discovered, there is always a tremendous amount of pain. Hurt, sadness, guilt, rejection, disgust, regret and numerous other raw emotions fill the room. It is important for the couple to know that by coming into counseling, no matter how difficult that can be, they have done the right thing.

As the complexities of the situation are untangled in counseling, the couple can begin to find a way to understand each other in a new light. Talking things out together can help them decide deliberately, and often cooperatively, what direction their broken relationship should take: Should they work to keep the relationship? Does it need to end?

While I don’t believe having affairs should ever be condoned, I do find it helpful to ultimately think of an affair as data about the relationship. The fact that a person has an affair can give us information about the state of the relationship before the affair happened.

Of course there can always be that unscrupulous person who has an affair because they don’t take their commitment seriously. That is not who I am talking about here. I am talking about the person who while once committed, finds their relationship to be so broken-down, so unfulfilling, that having an affair starts to somehow make sense to them. This scenario can happen to nearly anyone when proper care is not taken to nurture their love and maintain a relationship.

Ok, so, what about Ashley Madison? What if you searched the database and found your partner created an account?

Before filing for divorce, breaking off the engagement, asking them to move out, or taking any other drastic measure, make the call and get into counseling. That will be the safest place to get the information you really need.

To find out that your partner has an account with the Ashley Madison website, while devastating for sure, really only tells you that your partner set up an account. It doesn’t tell you the extent of your partner’s involvement with the website; it doesn’t tell you if they ever actually cheated on you. What it does do, however, is clue you in on some information – either about your partner as a person or about the state of your relationship.

If you found out that your partner had an account on the Ashley Madison website couples counseling will be the safest place for you to gather the information you need. Don’t hesitate to call because in the counseling office you will be able to take stock of the relationship and decide what moving forward should look like for you.

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