Should I Go to Counseling if My Husband Cheated?

by Anna Green

A husband’s infidelity can be devastating to both the marriage and to his wife personally. That said, the nature of your husband’s affair and your own coping skills and sense of self determine how you respond to the cheating. Some women and their husbands can work through the affair without professional assistance, while others may benefit from the input of a professional counselor.

Assess your Feelings

Most women will have strong emotional responses to a husband’s affair, such as anger, sadness and a sense of betrayal, according to Shirley P. Glass of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. How you cope with those feelings will determine whether you would benefit from counseling. If your strong emotions are standing in the way of your work and family responsibilities, it may be good to talk to a counselor. If you are coping well with your feelings by turning to close friends, family, prayer or other support systems and are able to function well, then you may not need a counselor. Talking to a counselor might still offer some additional perspective and emotional benefits, however.

Look at Your Behaviors

In addition to having strong emotions, a husband’s affair may lead to negative behaviors. If you find yourself abusing alcohol or other substances or acting abusively toward your husband, then a counselor may be able to help you find healthier ways of coping with your damaged marriage. Likewise, if your husband is trying to make amends for the affair, but you find yourself withdrawing or unable to begin to regain trust and intimacy, you might benefit from talking to a counselor.

The Affair

While all cheating can have devastating effects on a marriage, not all affairs are equal in severity. For example, if your husband had a one-time affair and is genuinely remorseful, then you may be able to reconcile the adultery without seeking a counselor. If your husband had a long-term physical and emotional affair, however, this will generally have more serious effects on both the marriage and your sense of trust and well-being. In such cases, both individual and marriage counseling can be useful.

Examine your Marital Communication Style

Whether you need to seek counseling also depends on how well you and your husband communicate. If you are able to share strong emotions without losing your tempers and can talk about difficult subjects constructively, then it might be possible to repair your marriage without a counselor’s assistance. If your communication is strained and your marriage was already tumultuous before the affair, working with a counselor might provide a calm setting to work through the adultery. Further, a counselor may be able to give you and your husband suggestions for how to talk about difficult issues without becoming overwhelmed with anger or distress.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

  • Andrea Morini/Digital Vision/Getty Images