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Infidelity in the Family Business? How Therapy Can Help

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


With infidelity, therapy is key to finding the root of the problem fixing it from the inside out to mitigate the effects on the family and business.Infidelity - it is a fairly common problem that doesn’t get addressed often enough. Of course, what goes on in a marriage should be private and a couple dealing with infidelity should be given space and time to work out their next steps. But it is not usually that simple.
 
Infidelity can cause aftershocks that affect the lives of many people, not just the marital partners. When a family is part of a larger system such as a family business, the people affected include not only family members, but also employees, vendors, customers, and others who play a role in the family/business system.
 
As much as those engaging in infidelity may think they are being discreet, eventually those around them find out. Even if they can’t quite put their finger on exactly what’s going on, they will pick up on the deception and secrecy. Deception makes people uncomfortable, and uncomfortable people make mistakes. This leads to more stress in the workplace, and the problem will spill out to customers, vendors, and clients.
 
Many people see infidelity as a moral issue, but it may be more useful to see it as a problem of practicality. Infidelity destroys trust not just between marital partners but among those who know the people involved. This type of behavior can be very harmful to your business in terms of respect and market share. It can also influence your employees. Deception in the upper levels of the company could foster that quality in others.
 
The key to mitigating the effects of infidelity on the family and business, and to preventing it from happening again, is communication. Among families in business, because of the need to be supportive, nurturing and protective of the family, sexual improprieties are often covered up. However, avoiding conflict and ignoring infidelity can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must confront the issue.
 
Communication is vital to understanding why the infidelity happened in the first place. The first step would be for the couple dealing with infidelity to speak with a professional psychologist. Infidelity is a symptom of a deeper problem that needs attending to. The really difficult part is figuring out what the symptom is telling you. The last thing the person engaging in infidelity wants to do is discuss their misbehavior, but talking about what happened and why, is exactly what is needed to get to the root of the problem.
 
Eventually other members of the family business may need counseling as well. The natural tendency of all families, whether they are in business together or not, is to cover up problems with the idea that doing so will keep the family safe. A professional psychologist can guide the family toward solutions that work instead of ignoring or hiding the problem. Your family can benefit from the objective guidance of a professional trained in helping families heal and rebuilding trust in the workplace.
 
If this comes up in your business, the minute you get wind of the symptom of infidelity, confront the problem immediately. Don't cast blame, but talk openly and honestly about what the real problem is. If the person is a family member, this is easier said than done! If you need advice on how to handle infidelity in the workplace, please know I have worked with many families, including families in business, on this very issue.
 
Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment, or try online therapy if that is best for you.


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