Let’s be honest. When you have been betrayed, the wound is so deep that it may seem like it will never heal. That much is true: Recovering from infidelity is going to take much longer than you probably would like. Recovery is not even based on how much you want to heal. How long does it take to recover from infidelity? It depends, but having a basic timeline in your head can make the process much less overwhelming.
Will Time Heal All Wounds?
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the time it took to recover from an affair could be figured out mathematically? Unfortunately, time is a truly unknown variable in this situation. Furthermore, time alone cannot heal the wounds of infidelity. You can sit for years in your grief, never healing. There are many factors that alter the speed of the healing process, including the extent of your trauma and your ability to handle conflict.
As such, some couples find themselves working a lot harder than others to heal.
Healing Happens When You Handle The Conflict
As mentioned above, your personal ability to meet your partner face-to-face and hash things out is going to play a key role in how long it takes to recover from infidelity. There are long-term psychological effects of infidelity, such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, and PTSD-like symptoms, that may be holding you back. You may also experience periods that seem like a step back.
In most cases, these conflicts and struggles are opportunities for healing. Couples therapy can reduce the time spent working through these problems. For example, if one partner is trapped in the past and utilizing defense mechanisms they learned in childhood, therapy can help them rework those responses to stress and give that partner a way to be receptive and vulnerable. This assists with the healing process by giving you and your partner the means to connect.
However, before any of this happens, you have to be open to change and committed to influencing one another.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Infidelity?
When you consider the immediate fallout from the affair, the emotional upheaval that follows, the decision to stay together, heading to couples or marriage counseling after infidelity, and all the work that stems from those decisions, it takes a long time to recover. Generally, the timeline spans at least 2 years. Some couples are done sooner. For others, it may take 5 years or longer.
A Rough Recovery Timeline
To help you better understand how time flows during recovery, check the timeline below:
The first few weeks after infidelity is discovered are chaotic, to say the least. Both parties are dealing with a barrage of emotions. Yet, the person hit hardest is the betrayed person. You are swamped by the trauma and depression after being cheated on, and it will take all of your energy just to function. Do not worry about solving any problems right now. Focus on what you need to pull yourself together and think clearly. Once your mental health improves, you can set your gaze toward healing your relationship.
Around this point, you can begin dealing with the affair. Although you are continuing to grieve, you can push through it. This period is met with arguments and discussions and disagreements. If you and your partner decide to save your relationship, consider reaching out to a marriage counselor, like those at Couples Academy, for assistance. Therapy can steer you through the roughest patches of healing while helping you get to the bottom of the affair.
Nearing the one-year mark of the affair, you may find that it is easier to accept that the affair happened. This is made more possible by actively working together to communicate and rebuild trust. Triggers still happen, but you and your partner know how to de-escalate situations now. If you were the one who had the affair, this is when you should let your spouse know just how committed you are to fixing the relationship.
This is not the end, only the beginning. Around 18 months, most couples who have begun the healing process and worked with an infidelity therapist will have reached a point where they feel ready to rebuild. You are both striving to strengthen your relationship or marriage, and you have gained valuable communication skills. Trust and forgiveness are around the corner, but you have to continuously put in the effort.
2 Years And After
Consider reaching the two-year period of healing a great triumph. You have now achieved “maintenance mode,” where you and your partner can focus less on healing and more on resolving new conflicts that arise. Maintenance should not be underestimated. If you slip back into old ways, the same problems could return. Therefore, maintaining the new relationship you have built over months of therapy and hard work requires just as much effort.
If you do that, your relationship will blossom into a bountiful garden.
Are You Ready To Heal From Infidelity?
There is no specific timeline when it comes to healing from an affair. Your relationship is unique, and it will heal at its own pace. That said, you can consider the rough timeline presented above as a way to measure your progress. Receiving guidance from a couple of therapists can make this period of healing a little smoother. Couples Academy can help you rebuild a lasting relationship founded on love and open communication. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our counseling programs.