We’re excited to share that our Founder and Clinical Director Matt Lundquist is featured in Health and O.school, speaking, respectively, on how grief support groups can help after loss and how a relationship can recover after cheating.
In “Are Grief Support Groups Helpful—and How Do You Find One? Here’s What Experts Say,” Matt talks with Health about the ways in which support groups differ from grief therapy. While support groups for loss can take many forms, Matt observes that most include opportunities for members to share their experiences without judgment. However, as Matt notes, “In most cases, other group members may offer support but not practical help or commentary.” This is different from therapy for grief since support groups don’t often allow for “the feedback from therapy.”
What grief support groups can provide is the ability to witness other people’s various experiences of grief. “Often, there is a gap between people’s expectations of what the process of grief should look like and reality,” Matt says. “Those who are newly in grief may carry expectations about how long the process should take and how disruptive it should be, which make them feel like their own process is too belabored and too severe. This is, of course, a function of how privately grief is organized in our culture.” A support group can be open about the messiness of the grieving process, as well as let members “see that most often it gets better.”
For O.School’s “How to Forgive a Cheater: 5 Tips for Healing the Relationship,” Matt explains how couples can work toward forgiveness after cheating in their relationship. While not in the article, it’s worth noting that cheating is complicated and can mean very different things in each relationship and instance. Sometimes the cheater is simply duplicitous and ill-intentioned. Other times, in a seemingly healthy relationship where cheating nonetheless takes place, it can be a function of some problem in the relationship. Finally, at times, cheating should be understood as one partner’s “way out,” meaning there may be a (conscious or unconscious) wish to get caught so that the relationship will end once that happens.
Ultimately, it’s important for both partners to come to an understanding of just why the cheating happened. If the cheater has self-work to do, they should do it. If the relationship has been suffering, it’s important to find and address that problem to both reduce the chance of cheating happening again and to attend to the underlying issue the cheating emerged from. This is an essential precondition to forgiveness.
Forgiveness, though, may not happen quickly as partners each experience a range of feelings about the infidelity and tensions can run high. In the article, Matt describes, “Couples need guidance to be patient—the person who’s been cheated on needs space to have his/her/their feelings validated and has a right to be angry…At the same time, the cheater is allowed to have complicated feelings and needs time in this process as well, and challenging as that may be, room is needed for both.”