My fiancée was working on a ship as a singer for seven months. Our relationship was really strong, but in the last month of her time away on the ship, she stupidly cheated. We’ve been together for seven years and are due to get married in four months. I don’t feel like I can just give up on us even though I’m hurting. I want to try and give it a go and I know couples have been able to do this in the past. What’s the best advice you can give for making it work? We don’t have the money for consistent couples therapy but we would like the odd session to help us rebuild. Jack
Before I give you my full answer, I just want to say: full respect to you for wanting to get past this and stay together despite feeling so hurt. As you rightly say, many couples do manage to get through a time in which there has been infidelity or a breach of trust. The key is, or my “best answer” as you put it, is to keep doing what you are doing — i.e. value the relationship, communicate honestly with each other, and continue to work at it.
Discovering that your fiancée cheated has been a painful, shock. Your sense of safety and of security has been rocked, and it will take time for trust to be re-established. Rebuilding a relationship after an experience like this can be a hard, painful, challenging experience, and couples therapy could be very helpful as you do this together. However, I feel quite strongly that having the odd couples sessions won’t really work. You don’t say where you are based, but at The Awareness Centre we offer low-cost couples therapy, and if you are not in London you might be able to find something similar in your area.
However, the other really important factor is that both you and your fiancé have to want to do this; couples therapy can only really work if you are both equally motivated to do it. So I think it would be a good idea for you to have some individual therapy yourself so that you can begin the difficult emotional work, and fully face your feelings, and begin to explore honestly with your fiancée what has happened and work out how to move forwards together. At the moment, understandably, you are focussing on the problem — what she did and the pain it has caused you. Some individual therapy could help you to start to put aside recycling the hurt, and focus on how to seek a solution and achieve, or regain, more emotional intimacy with each other.