When colleagues ask me what I do, I get a handful of reactions: “Wow. That must be really interesting (their code for difficult),” “I could never do that,” “Why did you choose to work with infidelity?”
I love the why question. Not only because they are showing an interest in my work (that’s always nice) but that I know that simple word- infidelity- is not so simple. By saying that I work with couples who have experienced infidelity, I have piqued their interest, their curiosity.
They want to know what it’s like, not necessarily as fellow therapists, but as fellow lovers. It is the curiosity of those who have loved and lost, of those who seek to find meaning in their own stories.
You see, infidelity isn’t about an act; it’s about a story. So many people get caught up in the details of the act itself that they miss the meaning and the potential it has to illuminate the otherwise dark and deserted areas of human sexuality and eroticism.
When I work with couples who are struggling to understand the affair, they are able to forge a new legacy for their relationship. It is sometimes only through the shattering of an affair that a new story can be told.
An affair rewrites the story of a relationship, and it is within the power of the couple to determine its meaning and its legacy.
We all live with an amount of uncertainty about the future, but an affair often leaves the deceived partner also questioning their past. There are few events in one’s life that can have as great an impact.
There is no question that this work is painful, and I never make light of that. It is through this pain that a true transformation can occur. It sucks, and it’s unfair. But by the time the couple walks through my door, there is no changing that: the affair has already occurred.
It is now up to the couple and each individual to decide where they want to go.
When relationships are new, they are so full of potential and uncertainty. There is excitement in the unknown. “Will this last?” “Is he the one?” “Will she pick me?”
Over time, as the uncertainty is traded for safety and security, there is a loss of this energy.
Spontaneity is replaced with monotony, routine, and predictability.
Desire gives way to boredom and complacency.
For many couples, the excitement is gone.
Many of those who stray have wondered for a long time if their partner still longed for them. They questioned whether there was any passion or desire left in their relationship.
They are often surprised by the emotional reaction of their partner. They wanted to know if this person still had that fire in them, and they got it!
Is it the most helpful way to go about it? No. Is it a way? Yes.
Now I am in no way condoning the act of infidelity. Can it have a transformative effect on a person’s life? Absolutely. But so can a diagnosis of a terminal illness. I wouldn’t recommend people get cancer…
Let me be clear- there is no excuse for having an affair. There are reasons, and there are justifications, but there are no excuses.
I often work with couples and individuals when they are at their lowest- when they are their most vulnerable and yet most defensive.
It is from this place that transformation can occur.
That is why I do what I do. That is why I work with couples who have experienced infidelity.
From that place of pain, that place of despair, I can guide them to a new life.
Mark Cagle, LPC
Mark Cagle is a father, husband, and expert marriage counselor in Dallas. He is passionate about helping couples to overcome the heartache of infidelity and betrayal so that they can heal the hurt and rekindle their relationship. Mark believes that by specializing in couples counseling he is able to dedicate himself and hone his skills in order to have the greatest impact on the couples he works with.