SINGAPORE - Couples seeking to save their marriages after episodes of adultery can attend an eight-week counselling programme which provides specialised support services and local expertise to do just so.
Called Torn Asunder, the programme was developed by American marriage counsellor and pastor Dave Carder 18 years ago, and has since spawned a best selling book and workbook, reported The Straits Times (ST).
Touch Family Services brought in the programme in 2010, in response to the growing number of cases of couples seeking counselling after infidelity.
Compared to five such cases in 2007, Touch saw about 20 new cases involving infidelity in 2010. This makes up half of the 40 people with martial issues it saw last year.
After realising the lack of specialised services to confront this issue, Touch invited Mr Carder to run his programme.
The programme is also available through Reach Counselling, which sees about 40 people affected with martial issues each year. According to ST, about 10 are linked to adultery.
Of the 10 couples who have attended the programme at Touch and two at Reach, most involved the husband straying, usually with a colleague.
Most are professionals in their 30s to 50s. The marriage length and religious background of participants vary.
The affair usually lasts about a year before being discovered by the wives, who then usually are the first to seek help.
However, even after counselling and the willingness of participants to fix their marriages, the blow of adultery can be a mortal one, where couples hang on to the pain or are unable to resolve the deeper cracks in their marriages.
Often, the suspicions, rage and grief following the betrayal can also drive the straying partner away, said Mr Jonathan Siew, senior counsellor at Care Corner Counseling Centre.
However, the programme has proven that it is possible to mend what is broken, as two couples who have attended the programme at Reach are still together. Touch said they do not keep track of whether couples separate after the end of the programme.
Couples undergoing the programme must first ensure that the affairs have ended before they can embark on the healing process, said Mr Arthur Ling, director of Touch.
The sessions, made by appointment and typically lasting one to two hours facilitated by a counsellor, must be attended by both spouses for all the sessions.
Both must be committed to saving their marriage, be ready to acknowledge their individual responsibilities on what went wrong, and be determined to work through these problems.
The programme also asks for the spouse who strayed to report their daily movements to their partners, and allow them to check their phone messages or email to reassure them.
The programme offered here is slightly modified, shortened from the usual 14 sessions to last eight sessions at Torch and 10 at Reach.
For other avenues of help to rebuild marriages after infidelity, Care Corner offers support groups in both English and Mandarin.
Reach also offers free booklets titled "Is Your Marriage At Risk", which provides tips on how to handle adultery and where to seek help. They can be found in family service centres.