Infidelity ... and after?

Adultery, this treason without forgiveness? Not so sure. Some couples face the test by trying to find meaning. According to psychotherapist Esther Perel, there are three scenarios for ending the crisis: resentment, denial and rebirth.

Caroline Desages

It was a Saturday afternoon, two years ago. That day, Camille, a 33-year-old mother, hears her husband's phone vibrate on the garden table. The SMS she can not help reading is unequivocal: "I miss you, my love." "More than anger, I felt a violent pain, as if I had been beaten," she says. After a crying night, she decides to fight: "Our youngest child was barely a year old and I believed in my relationship." Romain, her husband, did not try to deny: "Yes, he had a relationship recently with this new colleague, but yes, he still loved me.I did not understand: how could he deceive me? he loved me? "

A question also asked Gilles, 35 years, when Marion, his companion for five years, entrusted to him, gnawed by the guilt, she had yielded to the advances of a stranger at a party. "She could tell me that it was a mistake that showed her how much she cared about me, I could not hear anything, she betrayed me, so she did not like me no. "

" Love is not always at stake ", comments the psychoanalyst Pascal Neveu, author of Mentir, to better live together? (The Archipelago, 2012) "The infidelity of some men sometimes stems from an inability to consider their partner as a woman when she becomes a mother, they love her, but can no longer desire her. . " "Adultery can also be seen as an unconscious attempt to change the couple, to tell the other that the current situation is no longer tenable, but that we would like to find a new momentum in love," says Myriam Beaugendre , a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, who distinguishes, however, the punctual adventure of the double life, "whose discovery is much more violent." "It may happen that someone goes elsewhere because he is looking for another me, that he can not reconnect with his partner, "says Esther Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist living in New York and author of Erotic Intelligence (Robert Laffont, 2007).

Two years after his painful discovery, Camille admits to "understand" the infidelity of Romain. "We had not talked to each other for a few months," she says, "I was anxious about the imminent end of my life. my parental leave, it was hard for him to find his father's place.If I had not read this SMS, I'm not sure what we would have become, as we were in denial. "

In finding meaning to what had happened, Camille and Romain came out the "victim-executioner" schema in which it is easy enough to lock oneself up. " There is a first time of pain, where the betrayed person feels hurt. But, in a second time, she can wonder about the reasons which led her spouse to deceive her. And this is where the help of a therapist can be of great support, "says Myriam Beaugendre, while the person who cheated must question and reassure the other about the he loves him. " It's not a question of excusing, but of digesting what has been done to one of the two to the other and trying to understand it, "says Pascal Neveu. The challenge, finally, is to put the desire back in the heart of the couple and to accept that the other does not belong to us ", concludes Myriam Beaugendre If today, Camille and Romain have recreated a link with the help of a therapist, Gilles and Marion struggle to pick up the pieces: "I want him and it takes all the space," says Gilles.

Because she wanted to know what had become of the couples she had received in therapy, Esther Perel has reconnected with some of them, a follow-up that allows her today to identify three ways of managing "the after": some never really manage to exceed this episode, others abstract it without really transcending it, while other couples come out transformed.


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