You learn about an affair and suddenly time is standing still. How do you move past the point when life as you knew it ended? Recovering from an affair is a long process that sometimes takes months or years. It is a period that is unique to every person and couple. Knowing the stages of healing from infidelity can help you stay motivated to reach the end goal, whatever that may mean for you.
How Long Does Healing Take?
After the point of trauma, life gets slower. You might feel like you are wading through glue throughout the day and then go home to be burdened with questions about your partner’s affair. Knowing how to work through infidelity and its aftermath can hasten the healing process, but it generally takes about 18 months to find stability once again. This may be entirely different for you, depending on the depth of your hurt and how badly your relationship was damaged.
What Are The Stages Of Healing From An Affair?
In most cases, you will see four or five steps of healing from healing. Most often, these stages are called something similar to the following:
- Discovery stage
- Grief or Reaction stage
- Release or Acceptance stage
- Recommitment stage
Let’s look at these in detail.
Once you have picked away the debris from the fallout—that moment when you learned about the affair—you enter the discovery stage. This may not seem part of the healing process, but it is. During this period, emotions are high. You are shocked and unstable. In order to move on to the next stage of healing, there are a couple of things that must happen. First, you need to decide what to do next. For most, it is couples therapy. Others may separate. This usually happens after a period of intense emotions. It is important to do nothing on impulse throughout the discovery stage.
Grief Or Reaction
The grief or reaction stage is characterized by the question of why. You grieve for the relationship you lost. Even if you and your partner decide to attend couples or marriage counseling after infidelity, you will not stop grieving for some time. Take time to mourn over the things you have lost. Give yourself the space to react as fully as possible.
Then you can start figuring out why the affair happened. In couples therapy, gaining a shared understanding of why the affair happened is essential to being able to move forward. There should be no doubt left in your mind that your partner is committed to saving your marriage or relationship.
Release Or Acceptance
After a period of months or years, you may come to a point where you can regain some faith in your partner. Little by little (and with a lot of therapy), you have both learned what caused the affair. You tackled the issues. You spent time together, rediscovering your friendship and love. Gradually, you accepted what happened, and you made peace with your partner’s mistake.
Now it becomes your pursuit to rebuild intimacy and maybe start thinking about forgiveness—if you haven’t already.
The fourth and sometimes final stage, depending on your healing process, is called recommitment or reconnection. For those who have decided to work on their relationship and move forward together, recommitment is a triumph. The secrets have been uncovered. The affair is in the past. You have both learned how to communicate and love much more strongly than before.
Even if you decide that your relationship is done, recommitment is a time when you can also come back to yourself. You rediscover who you are as a single entity, and you redefine your personal values. There is a sense of newness ahead, one that you are excited to see.
Forgiveness can happen at any time throughout the stages of healing from infidelity, though it is typically near the end. This can be a separate stage for a couple of reasons. First, while you may understand what your partner did and acknowledge your personal faults that contributed to a poor relationship, forgiving them for causing so much pain is something you have to decide for yourself.
Secondly, forgiveness does not mean you forget. It is merely you choosing to see your partner for who they are trying to become after their mistake. As with all parts of the healing process, forgiveness will come naturally and with time.
Ready To Heal From Infidelity?
Yes, overcoming infidelity takes time, but that does not mean it is impossible. Marriage counseling after infidelity with Couples Academy is one of the best ways to get back on your feet. Rebuilding your relationship is easier when you know how to work through infidelity. Let us guide you towards a future filled with warmth and joy. Get in touch with Couples Academy today to learn more about what we can do for you and your partner.