Many things in life hurt. Discovering that your spouse or significant other has cheated on you is certainly at the top of the list of things that hurt the most. Infidelity is a deep wound that takes a long time to heal. You may even feel that overcoming infidelity in a relationship is impossible. Fortunately, there are ways to heal from infidelity and reconcile with your partner. It takes time, energy, and understanding, but it is possible to overcome.
Today you are going to learn about the stages of the affair recovery timeline, as well as how to reconcile the right way. Let’s get started
The 5 Affair Recovery Stages
Healing after infidelity is a process that is unique to every person involved, but the general affair recovery timeline remains the same. For most, it takes at least 2 years to heal. Some couples need 5 years. The main goal of the healing process is to help you through your emotions, rebuild your relationship, and eventually be able to forgive your partner for how they wronged you. Forgiveness is important, but it is not the end of your healing.
With that in mind, here are the stages of healing from infidelity:
In the immediate aftermath of learning that you have been cheated on, the chaos may be suffocating. Right now, while you are still reeling from the shock, it is important to take care of yourself. Rest and get your mind right so you can move forward. Too often, anger and shock take over, and people find themselves doing something irreversible.
After a few days, you are ready to start making sense of things. Keep in mind that self-care is necessary throughout this entire healing process. Without moments to yourself to pause and reflect, you may find yourself holding onto negative emotions.
Discovering The Cause of Infidelity
Although you might be tempted to pick up some self-help books and get through this on your own, it is highly recommended that you and your partner seek out professional assistance. Attending couples therapy is one of the best ways for overcoming infidelity in a relationship. Not only do you get the unbiased view of a therapist, but you also have a safe place to discuss your emotions, the affair, and more. In the beginning, your therapist is going to have you focus on the affair, so you can both talk about why it happened, how it made you feel, and what you would like to do in the future.
Why is it essential to talk about the affair? Because once your spouse or partner has cheated, that is all you have to focus on. Your relationship is suddenly redefined by that one betrayal. If you want to save your relationship, discovering the root of the problem and healing unresolved issues first ensures greater success.
Even when you are openly communicating about your emotions and the affair in therapy, it takes a long time for you to process what you are feeling. The one who was betrayed is going to be experiencing anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, contempt, jealousy, and mistrust. It is also common for partners to exhibit PTSD-like symptoms, as the news of an affair can be horribly traumatizing.
On the other hand, the offender may feel shame, guilt, and frustration over what they had done.
Before you can move onward and beyond the affair, it is important to resolve these emotions. Both of you have to take responsibility not only for your actions in your relationship but also for your emotions. It is important to find outlets that allow you to work through the pain in a healthy way.
Thinking About The Future
The next step is to consider what happens next. Sometimes attending therapy opens up pathways you did not think were available to you. For some couples, that may mean that you end up going your separate ways. Others fall more in love and stay happily married. In other words, you are going to need to take a moment with your therapist and partner to decide your future goals.
Once you decide on the best route, you can create a blueprint that guides you toward that point. For example, if you want to stay together, you may outline a series of short-term goals that work up to the endpoint. It is important to do things together, as well as continue to communicate and be open about what happened.
The hardest and often final step in healing is forgiveness. Letting go of the hurt and betrayal is easier said than done. Forgiveness, however, does not mean you are weak. Forgiveness is saying that you are willing to look beyond your partner’s mistake and show them love and trust again. This is a key stage in recovering from infidelity, because it means that, past this point, there is little to hold you back.
Yes, you will still need to adhere to the rules and guidelines, and boundaries in this new relationship you have constructed together. Yes, there will still be periods of mistrust and hurt. But if you can forgive, the weight on your shoulders will feel a million times lighter.
How To Reconcile With Your Partner After Infidelity
Whether you were hurt or had the affair, getting back on track with your partner is going to be difficult.
Here are some tips to help you reconcile with your partner after infidelity:
- Take time to heal. Do not decide anything until you have started the healing process. If your problems cannot be reconciled, you will find out in therapy or when communicating.
- Be accountable for your actions. No matter the reason, infidelity is not justifiable. That said, both people must acknowledge their actions or behaviors, particularly if the health of the relationship had soured before the affair.
- Work on restoring trust. For the cheater, be there for your partner. Support them in all that they do and show them that they can trust you again.
- Set limits for yourself. While you need to be patient with your hurt partner, you must also set boundaries to keep your relationship healthy. For example, if you are edging towards a fight because your partner is suspicious of something, tell them that you need some time to settle down and that you will be happy to revisit the discussion later in the day.
Heal From Infidelity Together With Couples Academy
There is no doubt that overcoming infidelity in a relationship is a challenge. It takes time and effort, and you must both be willing to continue. The stages of the healing process take years to work through, so be patient! Also, consider going to couples therapy. At Couples Academy, our counselors have experience in dealing with infidelity and come help you and your partner work through unresolved issues and pain. You can grow stronger together, and your marriage will be healthier, too.
Interested in learning more about Couples Academy? Contact us today.