Healing takes time and occurs in stages. When looking to heal from infidelity, you may be surprised to find that your healing process is entirely different from what you anticipated. You may think you are getting through the grief just fine, but then something happens that sends you back several weeks. So what are the stages of healing from infidelity? What should you be expecting at this point in time?
Today you are going to learn about the stages of healing you will overcome.
The Stages Of Healing From Infidelity
There are several stages of healing that can be defined as discovery, grief or trauma, acceptance, and reconnection. Forgiveness can be considered the end goal. None of these stages have an exact timeline for you to follow, as every person healing from infidelity is unique. That said, as long as some general steps are applied throughout the stages of healing, you can move along with more ease and perhaps heal faster.
In general, it takes about two years to heal your marriage after an affair. Some couples finish the healing process sooner. Others are much later.
Stage One: Discovery
If you were asked to name some of the worst days of your life, finding out that your spouse cheated on you would certainly rank among the top three. Up to the point of discovery, you may have thought that everything was fine between you and your spouse. But then your world is flipped upside down by the revelation that they have been spending time with someone else. Or maybe you had to deal with the creeping dread, putting clues together until you had the courage to confront them about their infidelity.
However you discovered the affair, what matters is that the world becomes smaller and more constricted once you know the truth. Then, suddenly, you are trapped in a bubble of negative emotion that refuses to pop.
Stage Two: Grief Or Trauma
The grief or trauma stage is characterized by numbing grief, shock, or for some, outrage and fury. Some people may call this stage the “meltdown” period because it is when your emotions are the most volatile. You and your spouse have probably exchanged some brutal words with one another because you can’t think clearly through all the emotions.
During this time, you do not want to commit to any of the impulsive decisions that you made. The emotional trauma can be blinding, and you may say or do something truly regretful. Instead, focus on you. Take care of yourself. Most importantly, seek stability. You may want to visit your parents for a few days to cool down.
With some distance, think about your emotions. As you start working through the immediate emotions, you can start to see the path ahead.
Stage Three: Acceptance
Now for the stage where most couples start to feel a little bit better about the situation. Acceptance is one of the periods of healing that can take months or years. You may both accept that you need to attend couples therapy or marriage counseling. Perhaps you both start working individually with therapists to understand yourselves a little better and to get to the root of your spouse’s affair.
Acceptance is about acknowledging that you and your partner can pull through the grief and trauma. Things feel a bit more normal each day. You don’t feel the cloud looming overhead anymore. You do not necessarily forgive your partner right yet, but you are at peace with the past. Perhaps, you have even learned to love yourself a little more during this stage.
Stage Four: Reconnection
The fourth stage of healing is often called reconnection because it is the point in time when you and your spouse begin to rebuild the passion and love you had lost. There are no more secrets. You have learned what you can from the affair, and you are continuing with marriage counseling to help you gain new skills to communicate. Together, you work on reestablishing a long-term relationship that is built on a sturdier foundation than before. You have healthy boundaries. Your needs are addressed. The same is true for your spouse.
Stage Five: Forgiveness
You may reconnect and feel safe in your relationship long before you forgive your spouse for their actions. Sometimes, forgiveness comes much earlier in the stages of healing. This one depends largely on you and your spouse. However, for most, forgiveness is the ultimate goal. You were hurt after the betrayal, but you have pulled through, reframed the hurt, and reached a point where you can look at your partner and know that they would never do such a thing again.
At this point, you have fully recovered from the shock and anguish of infidelity. You are ready to greet the future together.
Heal Together With Couples Academy
The stages of healing from infidelity are unique to each person. Working through the pain and grief gives way to more clarity, acceptance, and possibly even forgiveness. By working with a therapist, you and your partner can put the affair behind you. Couples Academy has assisted many married couples with recovering from infidelity and rekindling the love that brought you two together in the first place. If you want to strengthen your relationship, contact Couples Academy today to learn more about our programs.