Q&A Why Does Affair Recovery Use the Negative Label ‘Unfaithful Spouse’?

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Question: 

In EMS Online, Week 5's topic - Anger Management, there’s a list of cognitive distortions. One of the items is “Labeling and mislabeling”, which is described as “Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself.” My question is – why does the Affair Recovery program use the negative label “Unfaithful”, which can be either past tense (referring to the error) or present tense (referring to the person), to refer to program participants? I agree with your definition. I was unfaithful, but I am not defined by that error. Use of the term "Unfaithful" as a label to refer to program participants is extensive and it seems to conflict with what you’re teaching. Once the spouse has repented and recovery has begun, should we not use a positive label, such as that shown on the cover of the workbook; e.g., “Rebuilder”?

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Quite honestly, as a betrayed

Quite honestly, as a betrayed spouse, it feels a bit like minimizing the behavior and consequences of infidelity to not refer to the unfaithful as just that. To cater to their hurt feelings over being referred to as what they were/are, calling it what it is and owning it, even if it was a thing in the past, feels like an insult to what the betrayed has had to endure.

Using "positive" labels for

Using "positive" labels for something so very hurtful is sanitizing and minimizing the betrayal and my experience as a betrayed spouse.

Unfaithfuls, unfortunately, brought the label to themselves. It was their choice. The betrayed spouse didn't have a choice to have this experience. Unfaithfuls want it to go away, want to be viewed in a positive way, and avoid any negative connotations at all costs....and at the betrayed spouse's expense. A positive label has to be earned after LOTS of hard work....probably over many months or years. Being in week 5 of EMSO is way too early to be expecting to have any different label.

Pull up your big boy/girl pants and focus on your spouse instead of yourself. The sooner that is done and your spouse is fully healed, the sooner the Unfaithful Spouse label can be replaced with Rebuilder.