Is Full Recovery From an Affair Really Possible?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Couples Counseling, Couples Counseling For One | Comments Off on Is Full Recovery From an Affair Really Possible?

Reestablishing Commitment, Awareness and Communication

Affairs are a leading cause of divorce, but not everyone wants to end their relationship.

Recovery is possible. The process is difficult and lengthy. It takes a lot of commitment and hard work on the part of both partners, individually and as a couple. But it can be done.

Recovery for the Injured Spouse:

  • Healing. Recovery from anger, hurt, humiliation, and betrayal due to a partner’s breach of trust will be the initial focus. It takes time and work to move past those feelings. Wanting to know the how and why of the affair is common. It is normal to put all the blame for the affair on the other partner asking, “How could you do this to me?”
  • Context. While blame is an appropriate first response, it is important that the injured spouse not remain stuck in in that place. He or she must examine what factors contributed to the affair on both sides. If this shift doesn’t happen, relationship repair will not occur. Though it seems paradoxical, healing will come more quickly, and the injured partner will feel more empowered and motivated, as he or she comes to understand how their own actions might have made their relationship vulnerable to the affair.
  • Understanding Personal Accountability. It is crucial to note that there is a big difference between being accountable for one’s own actions and accepting responsibility for the actions of someone else. Though one partner certainly influences the other’s behavior, each person is responsible for him or herself. Playing a role in an affair’s development does not make a faithful spouse responsible for their partner’s choice to stray.

 Recovery for the Straying Spouse:

  • Complete Transparency. Immediately and permanently end the affair. Total access to information related to the affair should be provided to the faithful spouse. Texts, emails, social media, etc. should reflect a desire to be fully accountable, demonstrating that the affair is over. Offer information readily; continuing any hiding activity will not foster recovery.
  • Provide Answers. Spend as much time as it takes answering questions, in as much detail as requested. An unfaithful spouse may feel reluctant or uncomfortable, concerned that answers will only cause more damage, but withholding information only serves to further distance partners.
  • Full Understanding of How the Affair Occurred. What led to the affair? Understanding the cues, factors, or situations that preceded infidelity, it will make it difficult to repeat the behavior.
  • Taking Responsibility vs. Excessive Self-blame. There is a fine line between accepting one’s part in an affair and continually flogging one’s self for the behavior. Excessive self-blame will get in the way of understanding the how a partner became vulnerable to an affair.
  • Accept the Emotional Impact of Affair. People are often tempted to minimize the impact of infidelity, finding it tough to acknowledge the effect on their spouse or themselves. Feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or regret can be extremely uncomfortable. To recover, a straying spouse must deal with the pain caused and work through difficult feelings.

Recovery for the Relationship

o   Improve Communication. Affairs happen because the relationship is not working on some level. Developing more effective communication is key. This means dealing with more than the affair. Discussing difficult issues in the relationship in a productive and helpful way will shield and strengthen the marriage.

o   Improve Connectedness and Contentment. Couples should work to be engaged and present with each other. People who genuinely like each other feel connected through respect, laughter, and time spent together. These couples are much less vulnerable to recurring affairs.



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