There are fewer things in life harder to understand, let alone deal with in a healthy way, than finding out a spouse has been unfaithful, says Chuck Sugar. But, there is hope and help for those willing to take the time and make the effort to heal and stabilize the relationship. Here, therapist Chuck Sugar opens up about affair recovery and offers advice for those facing this unthinkable challenge.
Q: What are some common feelings a betrayed spouse experiences after learning of his or her partner’s infidelity?
Chuck Sugar: I think the first response is horror, shock, or misbelief. Then, they experience feelings of hurt, anger, fear, shame, and often an overwhelming sense of abandonment and betrayal. I think the message they often hear is, “what is so wrong with me or our family that you would have an affair?” or “What were you thinking when you did this?”
The avoidance of relationship problems leads to much deeper problems, says Chuck Sugar. Here, Sugar answers questions about how to effectively handle conflict and opens up about his own experience with the subject matter.
Q: What types of couples need to seek conflict-resolution counseling?
Chuck Sugar: I believe that all couples can benefit from learning how to better deal with conflict. I enjoy speaking to young couples about this topic during our premarital sessions. Many don’t believe they even need to learn how to handle a disagreement since they’ve often never really had one, but I have found that time changes that. Couples who learn early on to respond to one another effectively tend to report happier relationships in the long run.
Successful relationships begin with a positive self-image, says Chuck Sugar.
There is absolutely no doubt that self-image weighs greatly on people’s lives and relationships, according to Brentwood, Tennessee-based counselor Chuck Sugar. In fact, a poor belief about oneself can greatly distort our reality about the world around us.
In order to thrive, Chuck Sugar says that relationships must have a continuous stream of open and effective communication. To be effective, this communication must be heard and deciphered without distortion. Unfortunately, people who value themselves very little tend to take in and process information differently than those with a more positive self-image. This makes it very difficult for a relationship to develop in a healthy way. Low self-esteem perpetuates the cycle of negativity that impacts not only the one with the poor self-image but all of those around him or her.