Infidelity recovery is a process unique to each person, and so your journey to rebuilding your relationship is going to look different from other stories you hear or read about. Your circumstances will dictate the length and number of obstacles along the healing path. That said, there are some phases of infidelity recovery that most couples experience. Knowing these three phases and what to expect as they occur can be beneficial to you and your spouse.
The Three Phases of Infidelity Recovery
From start to finish, infidelity recovery is a long road. Navigating it on your own, without the assistance of a couples therapist, will be tricky. It is recommended that you reach out to a professional couples therapist or marriage counselor to ease the transition between the three phases of infidelity recovery.
Those three phases are:
- Crisis phase
- Understanding phase
- Rebuilding phase
Now, let’s take a look at what to expect in each of these periods.
Once the affair has been unearthed, your relationship is going to feel like it has imploded. This period in the wake of the betrayal is often called the “crisis phase,” because it is marked by intense emotions, such as shock, anger, confusion, despair, and disillusionment. The betrayed partner often experiences a range of emotional and physical symptoms that are not dissimilar from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms may include depression, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and panic attacks.
The crisis phase is a volatile period, which is why it is best for you and your partner to focus on yourselves. Attend to your needs to cope with stress. Communicate with one another. Process your feelings and start trying to come to terms with what happened. Furthermore, do not make any snap decisions during the crisis phases, especially when it comes to ending the relationship.
During this time, it is also important to seek out counseling. A therapist or counselor will focus on providing emotional support and giving you both room to express your feelings in a safe and productive way. The therapist can also help you create a plan for moving forward, including communication, finances, and, if necessary, living arrangements.
With the initial shock subsiding, you may begin to see the affair with renewed perspective. This is the start of the understanding phase of infidelity recovery, when both of you attempt to comprehend want led to infidelity and how to move on together. In individual or couples therapy, the understanding phase is when you begin working on the underlying issues that contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. You can devote much of this period to gaining new communication skills and rebuilding trust.
The understanding phase is also marked by the creation of new healthy boundaries that are constructed to keep the journey pressing on. For example, the hurt partner may ask their unfaithful spouse to divulge all information about the affair and to remain honest and transparent about any other relationships that happen to form.
The third and final phase of recovery begins when you and your partner decide to rebuild the relationship from the ground up and work on securing a future together. You are both determined to work through the lingering damages of infidelity. Eventually, you will begin setting new goals, routines, and rituals with each other. You also find ways to reconnect emotionally and physically. As you rebuild trust in each other, you may also decide that now is the time to rekindle intimacy. It’s important to note that rebuilding trust can take time, and there may be setbacks along the way.
If you are in couples therapy, your therapist will work with you both to create a plan for how to manage any potential setbacks or challenges that arise.
How Long Does Infidelity Recovery Take?
Now, you may be wondering about the duration of the three phases of infidelity recovery. In general, recovering from infidelity can be a long and challenging process that may take several months or even years. You have to factor in the severity and nature of the affair, the people involved, and the quality of support you receive. Additionally, the three phases of infidelity recovery (crisis, understanding, and rebuilding) are not necessarily linear or neatly defined, and you and your partner may move back and forth between the three phases as you work through your feelings and rebuild the relationship. Some couples may find that they are able to make significant progress relatively quickly, while others may require more time and support.
It’s important to approach infidelity recovery with patience, empathy, and a willingness to work through difficult emotions and challenges. Seeking support from a trained therapist or counselor can be a valuable resource, as can participating in other forms of community or group-based support.
Moving Forward Together
The three phases of infidelity recovery—crisis, understanding, and rebuilding—are unique to each couple. You may find yourself stuck in crisis mode for several months before there is any breakthrough in understanding. Please, be patient with yourself. Infidelity is a complex obstacle. However, with time, effort, and commitment to healing, you and your partner will be able to successfully recover from infidelity and rebuild your relationship. Couples Academy can help.
Our team has assisted many couples through the crisis phase and beyond. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our therapy services. Let’s get your healing journey started.