How to Recover from Infidelity
In my time as a therapist, there is probably one statement I have heard more than any other, and that is, “I just don’t think I will ever get over this.” This statement is often said by my clients (aka the hurt partner) who have recently learned their spouse or significant other has had an affair. The second most common phrase I hear is, “I just don’t think I can ever trust them again.”
The initial shock of infidelity cuts deep. Knowing your partner has broken your trust in such a profound way can completely turn your world upside down.
Whether or not a couple can recover from infidelity depends on the two individuals and the bond they have already built. It also depends on the exact circumstances of the affair. Was it a drunken one-night stand on a business trip or an affair that lasted for years? Were love and intimacy involved, or was it merely a physical occurrence?
What I can tell you is that for those couples who want to try and stay together, it will take work on both of their parts. But healing can happen.
The Recovery Process
Recovery must begin with an absolute ending to the affair. All ties must be cut before the work can begin. Should the affair continue behind the scenes, in my experience, the relationship is very unlikely to succeed.
The second step to recovery is for the partner who had the affair (aka perpetrated partner) to be able to move past defensiveness and guilt so they make talk openly and transparently about what happened. This is a time to be humble, acknowledge their wrong-doings, and answer their partner’s questions.
Next, there must be a shared understanding of what led to the affair in the first place. Were there issues in the marriage that led to the affair? If so, these will need to be tackled.
In order for the hurt spouse or partner to be able to begin healing, they will need to feel genuine compassion from their partner for having caused them pain. There is typically a knee-jerk reaction to not want to accept the partner’s apologies or compassion.
The hurt partner will also need to explore all of their feelings surrounding the betrayal. Usually disgust, anger, suspiciousness, and trauma are the main responses a person will need to work through.
At a certain point, you both will need to decide whether you will stay together. If you choose to, you will need to work on rebuilding that trust.
As you can see, the process of recovery is a complex one. If you would like to seek counseling for infidelity, please get in touch with me.