When a couple experiences infidelity, it can be a relationship-ending event. The process of restoring your relationship morally, emotionally, and physically after being harmed by infidelity is known as affair recovery. For couples who choose to work it out, the road to restoration is long and arduous. This process may take anywhere from six months to two years, and it is frequently a complicated process for couples who lack humility, compassion, or persistence. However, a couple with these qualities can eventually restore their relationship to a healthy state.
An affair may range from a purely emotional affair to a full-blown sexual affair. An emotional affair is when you establish an uncomfortably close emotional connection with someone other than your spouse. You may spend an inappropriate amount of time texting, talking to, or hanging out with this person even if your relationship is not sexual. All of your secrets are revealed to them, and you gradually begin to fall in love with them. In most cases, if an emotional affair does not end, it is only a matter of time until it becomes sexual. However, it is also possible to have a purely sexual affair, wherein one is physically engaged in sexual activity with a partner other than their spouse without a deep emotional connection.
The Best Way To Recover After an Affair
For a successful recovery, both parties must be brutally honest. An affair is a harsh betrayal of trust, and in some cases, it is irreparable. An affair can easily destroy a relationship. But if both members of the couple feel it is worth saving, it can be done. It’s just going to take a lot of work.
Do You Both Want Recovery?
The first step to recovery is to honestly ask yourselves: is anything worth fighting for in this relationship? Are love and connection still possible, or is our relationship little more than one of convenience and shared objectives, like raising children? There are no right or wrong answers, but there will be no healing if one wants a convenient relationship while the other seeks love and connection. Without shared goals, a relationship is likely to become a breeding ground for resentment. For a relationship to function, both parties’ needs must be met. If that isn’t possible, your relationship might not be viable.
People do grow out of relationships. We can’t satisfy everyone’s needs, and sometimes the relationship can’t meet one or both of yours. It’s sometimes preferable to let go with love and strength than to hang on forever and let a relationship sour.
Can You Both Be Accountable?
For the relationship to heal and for forgiveness to be possible, both parties must recognize their roles in the dysfunction. What was lacking in the relationship? What needs were not being met? Discussing these things openly and honestly is crucial to successful recovery. A frank discussion about what happened and why may improve the relationship’s potential: if either side is unwilling to admit that they played a role in the problem, there is little to no hope of a successful recovery.
The partner who had an affair needs to be able to talk openly about why they did what they did.Nobody wants to hear the agonizing details of an affair, but it can be healing to have an open talk about what happened. First, this shows your spouse that you can be honest and transparent with them. Second, it gives your partner the chance to hear, from you, what happened. Affairs are built on lies: recovering from them requires intimate honesty.
And this honesty needs to flow both ways. Affairs don’t happen in a vacuum. While the actions of one partner can never justify an affair, it is healthy to examine your relationship and identify behaviors that may have contributed to the affair.
If you had an affair, you must examine what you gained from it that you did not get from your relationship. Excuses based on anxieties, inadequacies, or personal faults are insufficient. These aren’t a solution, and it lacks the bravery and dedication required to repair your connection with the one you love.
After a thorough and honest discussion, you can assess whether your partnership can grow to meet the needs that you identified. It’s not uncommon for anger and pain to override the desire even to attempt a reconciliation. When trust is shattered, it is hard to glue it back together. Both parties must honestly assess what they want from the relationship going ahead.
Sometimes the gap between two individuals becomes unbridgeable. If that’s the case, admit it and determine whether or not the relationship is worth preserving. If the relationship is damaged beyond repair, be honest.
Moving Forward and Forgiving
For a successful affair recovery, the spouse who strayed is going to need to be completely transparent. Affairs are traumatizing, and the experience of being cheated on increases the risk of re-experiencing that trauma. The victimized spouse is going to need their partner to be accountable. Odd behaviors, inexplicable tests, being late getting home, being somewhere unusual…these behaviors are likely to cause your partner emotional distress. The privacy that existed before the affair is gone and will remain so. Affairs make it hard for one spouse to trust another. How long it remains that way depends on how you manage things. Be responsible every day. Be an open book. Understand that you will have no secrets. Your spouse will need to know where you are and what you’re doing. They will need validation that there is no affair. When a spouse who has experienced adultery is asking where you’ve been or looking through your messages, they aren’t looking to catch you but rather seeking reassurance that there isn’t anything to catch.
For healing to occur, you will need to stand watch over your relationship’s boundaries for a time. Ensure that there are no gaps, absences, or missing parts in your day. No surprises. If you are contacted by your affair partner, you must be transparent with your spouse. You must be the one to restore safety. There will come a moment when the one who has been wounded will constantly be looking for proof that the affair isn’t occurring. It may become an obsession. Finding out about an affair is painful. Therefore, they need to discover evidence that the relationship is secure, that the affair is over, and that you can be trusted again.
If you have discovered an affair, one of the first steps to repair is to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for being angry, unhappy, or unsure about what you want. Forgive yourself for doing what you needed to do to feel better. Forgive yourself for not knowing and not asking questions when things didn’t seem right. And let go of any guilt — for leaving, remaining, or for any emotions you had before, during, or after the emotional affair. No shame is yours to keep.
Every relationship has a turning moment. Some will have many. Affair recovery takes two people. If you weren’t giving your spouse what they needed, they had an opportunity to communicate with you so you could fix it. It’s likely that your needs may have gone unmet at times. Regardless, you deserved to know something was wrong. And you deserved a chance to make amends. It’s yours now. Forgive yourself if you can’t offer your spouse what he or she needs going ahead. Two excellent individuals don’t always make a terrific couple. Sometimes it’s not the individuals but the mix.
No matter what happens, know that you are always someone’s notion of wonderfully imperfect. You were probably always that to your spouse, even if they forgot for a time. Being the victim of an affair is traumatic. Give yourself lots of time to forgive and start feeling normal again, whether you stay or leave. Be patient with yourself.
Start From Scratch
Every affair recovery rewrites a relationship. There may be pain, rage, and loneliness, but if your relationship is worth fighting for, there will be an opportunity for development and discovery. The pain won’t always seem overwhelming. Other days you’ll be OK; some days, you’ll wonder how you’ll ever get back up. This is very normal. You’re mourning what you believed you had and were striving for. You’re grieving for the person or connection you thought you had. Those things are still there, but not how you expected. That doesn’t make it better or worse.
No one is perfect. Sometimes, we harm those we love. We become individuals we never thought we could be. But our errors – and we all make them — imprint new knowledge and truths in our core. An emotional affair may be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can pick up the pieces of your relationship and move along, you will find yourself much stronger for it.