Have you caught your spouse cheating on you? And, even though you feel heartbroken, you feel like the whole world is crumbling beneath your feet, yet you still don’t feel ready to give up on your marriage… To give up on your love.
Well, you have every right to give it a second chance. Especially if you feel deep down in your heart that it’s the right thing to do. However, you should know that you’re about to sail on a very difficult journey because affair recovery is truly an exhausting and emotionally draining process.
You’re feeling a whole range of different emotions, I know. You just want to close your eyes, make it all disappear, and bring your old ‘happy’ life back. Trust me, I feel you.
However, and unfortunately, this is not how things work in real life. You need to gather the strength to pick yourself up and face your fears, along with all your problems and concerns.
To make the affair recovery journey less challenging, I have compiled this guide on surviving infidelity. So, let’s save your love and make your marriage affair-proof.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From An Affair?
The first thing you’ll experience is denial. You’ll feel like it’s all an awful nightmare, and you’ll be praying to God to wake you up out of it. But, sooner or later, you’ll have to face the ugly truth because…
It’s happening. And, trust me, as much as you try to deny it, it won’t just go away.
Then, you’ll start wondering how long healing after infidelity lasts. And, unfortunately, I don’t have the right answer to this question. The truth is, nobody does.
We all experience these things differently, and for some of us, it doesn’t take much time to recover while other ones may struggle with affair recovery for years.
It also depends on some other things. For example, it depends on how strong the love between you and your partner was, and how long your spouse saw their affair partner before you found out.
Just try to silence everything and everyone around you and listen to your heart. After all, it carries all those wounds, and only your heart can tell you when it’s ready to move on, indeed.
The standard industry answer is that it may take up to 2 years
According to the famous clinical psychologist, Dr. Wyatt Fisher, and many of his fellow colleagues, recovering from infidelity usually takes about six months to two years.
Or, in his (really encouraging) words, “Affair recovery usually takes anywhere from six months to two years, and is often a painful process, yet a possible one for couples who possess humility, compassion, and tenacity.”
My answer is that it takes as long as both partners are fully recovered
Emotional infidelity is painful and draining for both spouses. The betrayed spouse feels heartbroken and it makes them engage in self-blame.
However, they should know that it’s not and can never be their fault because that act of cheating can only speak for the partner who cheated; not the one who was cheated on.
Yet, it can also be aching and torturous for the betrayer because they know that one mistake could cost them their marriage. It could cost them losing their true love.
That’s why I really think that moving on is possible only when both partners are capable of doing so. Only when both of them heal completely and feel it deep down in their heart is when it’s time to leave it all in the past.
Give it time, and cultivate patience
Please understand that the affair recovery process consists of many other ‘small’ processes you’ll need to go through in order to fully heal and recover.
You’ll need to arm yourself with patience. Forget about statistics. Forget about the expectations. Forget about all those irrelevant things and focus only on what’s truly important; how to recover. Not when or if, but how to get over it.
See also: 10 Common Marriage Reconciliation Mistakes To Avoid After Infidelity
Affair Recovery Timeline (6 Stages)
There are six stages of the affair recovery process that all couples need to go through, specifically the ones who don’t want to get a divorce and decide to remain together after the affair and fix their marriage.
So, this is what is expected of you in your journey of getting your marriage back on track:
1. The discovery stage.
This is the first stage of the surviving infidelity process. It’s when you first find out that your girlfriend/boyfriend has cheated on you after wondering for some time if they’re cheating on you or you’re just being paranoid.
The state of a deep emotional shock
Finding out that the person you love has cheated on you is beyond painful. It’s a shocking discovery, and you won’t even be able to process it the right way in the beginning.
It’s a traumatic experience, and most people aren’t even aware of the fact they’ve been betrayed. However, that’s a completely normal psychological response to such a terrifying experience.
That’s when denial comes on the stage. You don’t want to admit that it’s happening to you, and you rather choose to run away from it by denying it.
You think it’ll make the pain go away. You think it’s easier to hide from the problem than to confront and face it… But, oh my, how wrong you are. Just wait, you’ll understand it later on.
Shame and blame
The betrayed spouse will probably engage in self-blaming. The cheating partner may tell some frustrating things to them that will make them think it was all their fault. Their self-esteem will be damaged to the point where they’ll start thinking that their partner is right.
Being cheated on discovers your secret and biggest insecurities. You start thinking how you actually deserved that kind of humiliation, and pretty soon, you start feeling embarrassed because of it.
2. The trauma stage.
Whether you found traces of your partner cheating on you in their phone or you caught them in the act, it changes absolutely nothing. You’ll still experience it as a deep trauma for your emotional and mental health.
This is a perfectly normal feeling after you find out that your partner was unfaithful to you. It’s your heart’s most natural response to being betrayed.
You actually don’t feel angry because they were with another person. What pisses you off the most is the fact that they betrayed your love and the vows you made in front of God.
Experiencing explosive emotions
You’ll feel a whole range of the most explosive emotions from anger to rage, even to some aggressive and violent emotional outbursts.
In the beginning, you’ll be unable to control them, and it’ll damage your mental health deeply. However, once you cool down, you’ll be able to regain control over your emotions.
Being on a real emotional rollercoaster
You’ll most likely experience an emotional meltdown. Your moods will swing wildly and rapidly, and it’ll leave you confused and completely emotionally drained.
3. The grieving stage.
This stage will occur once you finally accept the fact that you’ve been betrayed. You’ll get past all that defensiveness you were trying to build at the beginning, and you’ll finally understand that it’s okay to grieve.
Depression and anxiety
The constant flashbacks and intrusive thoughts will probably trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You won’t be able to sleep, eat, or function the way you used to because you’ll be obsessing about your partner’s betrayal.
When it comes to grief, there’s no structured way of how people cope with it. But, one thing is for sure, all of us experience severe depression and anxiety episodes.
Feeling emotionally broken
You’ll feel like your heart is broken into a thousand pieces, and you’ll be afraid that you’ll never be able to pick them up and glue them back together. But, fortunately, it’s just your response to the trauma you’ve experienced; it’s not the actual truth.
4. The acceptance stage.
In the acceptance stage, you’ll pick yourself up and try to find a way to move on. It’ll be the first and most important step in your recovery process.
Coming to terms with your ‘new’ reality
Things are not like they used to be, and they’ll never be the same again… that’s a pure fact. A fact that you need to accept and come to terms with.
Confronting your own feelings
Whatever you’re feeling right now, you should know that it’s completely normal. Don’t suppress your feelings and hope it’ll speed up your recovery process.
On the contrary, it’ll only slow it down. Identify your emotions and confront them. Be in control of your emotions or they’ll take full control over you.
Seeking to understand
After you’ve confronted your own feelings and gathered the courage to accept them as they are, the next step is to confront your unfaithful spouse.
I know that all you want is to understand what made them betray you in such a way. So, let them talk and just listen… without accusing, without judgments… just listen to their side of the story.
5. The recovery stage.
And now, this is where your affair recovery process actually begins. You still won’t be able to leave it in the past, but you’ll be on the right path to moving on.
Healing your emotional wounds
Once you pass through the doorway of grief, you can now open the doors of healing.
You need to be gentle with yourself because your heart is still broken. You need to treat your emotional wounds with caution because they’re the worst ones… they’re the ones felt in the depths of your being.
Focusing on what’s the most important; LOVE
You still love each other and want to save your marriage… want to save your love. And, that is undoubtedly the most important thing… the one both partners should be focusing on.
Marriage is everything but easy. There will still be many bumps on your journey of togetherness, but as long as you’re traveling through it together and holding hands, you’ll be able to keep it on the right track.
And, if you’re asking if it’s worth giving your love a second chance… going from my own experience, sometimes second chances work out better than first ones because then, you have the privilege called learning from your mistakes.
6. The recommitment stage.
In the last stage of your affair recovery process, you’ll need to indulge in rediscovering your relationship. This means you’ll have to shift your focus to rekindling your emotional and physical intimacy, rebuilding trust, and improving your communication.
The first and foremost thing you need to work on as a couple is rebuilding trust. After all, trust is always influenced the most by emotional affairs.
Both partners need to be willing to do whatever it takes to rebuild trust in their relationship. Without it, they’ll never be able to prosper together and get their marriage back on track.
Providing new meaning to the relationship
You have gone through an awful thing. You experienced something that has nearly killed your marriage. Now, it’s important to draw a lesson out of it.
Focus on all of the things you want to improve in your relationship. Build strong and clear boundaries. You can definitely turn it into the beginning of a whole new and far more beautiful life together.
See also: How Do Most Emotional Affairs End (15 Common Ways)
How To Heal After An Affair? (To The Couple)
Heads up… mending your marriage and coping with infidelity won’t be easy. However, it’ll be worth it. If there’s true love, it’ll be worth the sacrifice… the effort… and all the hard work.
Below are the most important steps of surviving infidelity, which will lead you to complete healing. Do remember that you need to go step by step. Actually, you need to take baby steps if you really want to make your marriage work again.
1. Give time to your individual healing process.
The betrayed spouse will probably need more time to heal. They’re the wounded ones, and their healing will be significantly slower than that of the betrayer.
Repairing a marriage is a two-person job. Both sides need to be included in that process, and they won’t be able to cooperate if they don’t heal properly. Constant flashbacks and all the pain they’re feeling might even make them think that it’s all worthless, and it might make them give up on fixing things.
2. Improve the effectiveness of communication.
Did you know that poor and unhealthy communication is the most common cause of emotional affairs? Well, that’s not quite a shocking fact because effective communication is the fundamental basis of every healthy relationship.
So, instead of accusing your cheating spouse and shifting the blame on them, you should talk openly about it with them. You should try to understand their reasons so that you can work on fixing those things together.
3. Find the root cause.
That’s it. You can’t find the cause of your partner’s infidelity if you don’t talk with them. And, you’ll never be able to understand their reasons if you don’t listen to them carefully.
There is probably more than one reason why it happened. All those little things and problems that you didn’t talk through during the years have accumulated and made your partner choose the wrongest possible choice… finding comfort in another person.
4. Acknowledge the consequences.
It’s possible for a marriage to recover from an affair; however, this doesn’t mean that infidelity won’t leave any consequences on the couple. To be completely honest, it’ll emotionally scar both partners for life and leave a chronic wound on their marriage.
Your trust is broken, and your intimacy is destroyed, too. The reputation of your marriage will surely suffer. However, those are all consequences of your actions and mistakes, and now both of you need to be accountable and stand behind your actions.
As the title of one of the books from the clinical psychologist, Dr. Margaret Rutherford, says: Marriage is not for chickens.
5. Both sides need to admit their wrongdoings.
You need to understand that whatever happens in a marriage, it’s never completely one partner’s fault. Constant blame-shifting won’t lead you anywhere, especially if both of you want to fix your marriage and give it another chance.
The failure of a relationship or a marriage happens because partners neglect each other’s emotional needs, are not willing to make compromises, don’t communicate in a healthy way, and don’t put enough effort into nurturing their marriage.
You may think I’m completely wrong right now, and you probably disagree with me, but it’s always a two-sided thing. I don’t say that you’re to blame for being cheated on (both of us know very well who is the main culprit)… I’m just saying that obsessing over whose fault it was won’t bring you any good.
6. Make amends.
Forgive each other. I know that this is easier said than done for the betrayed spouse, but it’s truly the most important step in your affair recovery process.
However, do take your time. Forgiveness isn’t just something that needs to be said out loud. You need to feel deep down in your heart that you’re ready to forgive your partner and take them back into your life.
Remember that the main trait of strong people is their ability to forgive others.
And, the betrayer needs to know that saying sorry doesn’t cut it when it comes to infidelity. You can apologize for cheating a million times, but if your actions don’t match your words, you’ll never earn forgiveness.
7. Practice acceptance.
After you decide to forgive each other and leave it all behind you, the fact is that none of you will ever be able to forget about it completely. And, you shouldn’t.
This was a huge lesson for both of you, and for your marriage, and that is how you should accept it. Forgetting it means you’re forgetting the lesson, too. And, that could lead to repeating the same scenario all over again.
8. Create a plan of action on mending your marriage.
I have already said that you need to go step by step if you want to make things right and fix your marriage. That means you should make a plan and define each of those steps clearly. Make a relationship needs list as well.
Marriage is a journey of two people who have agreed on traveling together through it forever. And now, you’ve got a little lost on that journey, and you simply need to create a roadmap that will help you return to the right path.
9. Work on rebuilding trust.
Trust is one of the most significant building blocks of a healthy and committed relationship. Without it, it’s impossible to maintain a healthy relationship, and it’ll all go down like a ton of bricks.
The betrayed spouse has probably lost trust in their unfaithful partner completely. And, as much as they want to work things out with their spouse, they just can’t let go of the feeling that they’ll never be able to trust their partner again.
That’s why the first thing you’ll need to focus on in your journey of fixing your marriage is rebuilding trust. And, the best way to do this is to start from the beginning… to behave like you two have just met.
10. Seek help in couples therapy.
If you can’t deal with it alone, you should try couples counseling. You can take an online course or get a live appointment with a couples therapist.
The important thing is to seek advice from experts. They’ll tell you how to direct your healing and rebuild trust in your marriage again.
“Trust is an obvious issue, and is vital to regain. But, if both partners are committed to reconciling the marriage, or at least to try, then seeing a couples therapist together is most helpful,” says clinical psychologist, Dr. Margaret Rutherford.
Healing From Infidelity (To The Betrayed Partner)
Being cheated on and betrayed by someone you really love is definitely the most painful experience a person can go through. It affects your self-esteem and your emotional and mental health, and it leaves you scarred for life.
It’s not like a physical wound because those kinds of wounds can be treated easily. Unfortunately, you can’t put a band-aid on your heart and hope it’ll heal.
Emotional wounds take time and demand very gentle treatment. And, the absolute worst thing is that nobody can guarantee you that you’ll ever be cured completely. Here are some tips that will help you cope with betrayal and heal properly.
1. Understand that it wasn’t your fault!
The betrayed partner starts questioning literally everything after they’ve been cheated on. They even start wondering if they did something wrong… something that made their partner hurt them in this awful way. I know this very well because I was once the betrayed partner, too.
But, the truth is that no matter what you did, you didn’t deserve to get your heart broken. Your only mistake is giving someone that kind of power to ruin you, but, once again, that is love.
2. Self-blame will only lead you to self-destruction.
Oh, if only someone was there to tell me this and warn me before I completely engaged in self-destruction. I was blaming myself for too long, and it undermined my mental health. It made me feel depressed and anxious.
If you’re blaming yourself, too, I can only say that you’re addressing it in the wrong way. The only person who deserves to be blamed is your unfaithful partner who made you feel this way.
3. Allow yourself to grieve.
Even the strongest and most courageous people are vulnerable. Even they cry sometimes, and they can’t handle that pain in their chest after their loved one hurts them. Because the truth is, love makes us all weak.
You’ll never be able to recover properly if you don’t get it all out of yourself. Cry your heart out and scream from the top of your lungs… sometimes, it’s truly the price we have to pay for true love.
4. Put yourself first.
Love is important… heck, it’s the most important thing in the world. Fixing your marriage is important as well.
But, right now, you’re trying to heal yourself. That makes you more important than both of those things. You need to focus on yourself, listen to what your mind has to tell you, and do what your heart asks you to do.
5. Embrace your emotions; even the negative ones.
During the healing process, all kinds of emotions are welcomed. The worst thing you can do is to try to bottle them up inside you and pretend as if nothing is happening.
Because it’s happening. It’s the reality. And, the more you try to deny it, the more it’ll haunt you. The more you try to suppress your feelings, the more painful they will become.
You’ve been betrayed, and you have every right to be pissed off. You’ve been hurt, so it’s completely normal to feel sad and broken. Accept your emotions just the way they are currently, and have faith that they’ll change soon.
Try to build your own support group. You can confide in your best friend or in a family member… it’s irrelevant. The only important thing is to talk about it.
Don’t keep things like this to yourself. Don’t continue to suppress your innermost feelings because that definitely won’t make them go away. Right now, you need a shoulder to lean on, and that’s exactly what best friends are for, right?
7. Things will suck for a while, so try not to lose yourself.
I don’t know how many times I’ll repeat it, but it’s really the truth. And, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you’ll be able to heal. The healing process takes time, and by no means can it happen overnight.
There are many stages of grieving and healing you’ll have to go through, and I really don’t want to lie to you; a hell of a difficult time is in front of you.
Even when you start thinking that you’ve recovered fully, you’ll experience some bad flashbacks, and it’ll only prove to you that you still need time. Stay strong and stay true to yourself. It’s a fact that many people tend to lose themselves in this process.
8. Love yourself more in spite of all those things that are trying to bring you down.
You’re strong. You’re powerful. You’re good enough… heck, you’re better than that. You’re a magically unique human being capable of achieving some great things in life. Don’t ever let anyone or anything diminish your power.
Love yourself the most. Always. Don’t let this experience make a victim out of you. You’re a freaking hero, and don’t ever allow anyone to make you think otherwise.
9. Take a mini-break from the world.
Right now, the only thing you need to do is focus on yourself… on your healing. That’s why the best thing would be to deactivate your social media accounts, and also, disconnect from real life.
You need to be alone with your own thoughts and feelings. You need to make some decisions; very important decisions that will influence your life on so many levels.
You need to strengthen your self-relationship and learn to love yourself again. You need to get rid of all the negativity that has been circling around you, and let go of all the bitterness and grudges.
10. Forgive. For your own peace of mind, forgive them.
Even if you decide that you can’t move on with your relationship and leave this thing in the past, you should still forgive your cheater.
I know it sounds impossible right now because there are still so many unresolved things and feelings between you. However, until you come to this final stage of your healing process, you won’t understand what I am talking about.
Forgiveness is an essential part of your healing. It actually has nothing to do with the other person. It’s something you need to do for your own well-being. It’s how you’ll unshackle yourself from all that resentment, bitterness, and, most importantly, hate.
Keep in mind that no matter how much someone has hurt you, you shall never poison your heart with hate. Don’t dye your beautiful pink heart with those ugly dark colors.
Can Marriages Work After An Affair?
Of course, they can. Actually, as much as this may sound crazy, it can actually bring a couple closer and make their bond stronger. And, the statistics definitely prove this.
Surviving infidelity is difficult. Mending your marriage after an affair is an arduous journey. But, it’s definitely possible. Needless to say, ONLY if both parties are willing to work on it and put immense effort into fixing their marriage.
Just don’t let this define your marriage…
After you make amends and agree on leaving it in the past, the most important thing is to turn a whole new page in your marriage. The truth is, all marriages have ups and downs, and if you allow those ‘downs’ to define your entire relationship, it’ll be impossible to maintain it.
Well, my marriage is also a great real-life example that a marriage can work after going through the hell called ‘emotional affair‘.
My surviving infidelity testimonial goes like this…
We were married for 7 years when it happened to us. Well, those are the toughest years of a marriage, or as most experts call it, the seven-year itch.
To make a long story short, my partner cheated on me, and I was feeling like my whole world was falling apart.
To be honest, at the beginning, I hated him from the core of my heart. I never wanted to see him again. I didn’t want my husband to touch me nor did I want to give him a chance to talk with me.
I was a strong believer of all that ‘once a cheater / always a cheater’ crap. I thought that as much as my love is strong, it’ll never be strong enough to change my unfaithful partner.
And, I really thought that even if we give our marriage another try, it’ll never be able to function like it used to… that we’ll never be able to move from it completely.
Instead, allow it to bring a whole new meaning to it!
And, fortunately, I realized on time how wrong this way of thinking is, indeed. I started to look at all of this as a huge temptation from God. I started to feel like it was just the way the universe was testing us… our love.
After some time, after I allowed myself to grieve, and eventually, to heal… and after so many tries of my desperate husband to convince me he’s feeling guilty and repentful… I decided to give him a second chance.
I decided to give our marriage another try. I still loved him, and I wanted to fight for that love.
That’s when we understood how unhappy and unhealthy our marriage actually was before all of it happened. This awful experience also made us understand how strong our bond is despite everything, and it showed us and the rest of the world that we’re meant to be together… Forever.
And, guess what… 5 years afterward, we’re still happily married, and I’m now surer than ever that we’ll have that ‘happily ever after’…
What percentage of marriages work after an affair?
Finding the exact percentage of how many marriages have managed to work after one or both partners were unfaithful is a difficult task.
However, national surveys show that about 40 to 50% of divorces occurred because of infidelity. And, 20 to 40% of couples who experienced infidelity managed to stay together and fix their marriage.
Also, the surveys are showing that most of those partners who decide to stay with their cheating spouse are women. In most cases, it’s because of the children, but it could also be because of financial reasons or the fear of being single again.
Men, in general, aren’t so good with forgiveness. When a man finds out his wife is cheating on him, it cripples his ego, and all the love turns into hate ASAP. He is unable to gather the strength to forgive his spouse, and that’s when their marriage ends for good.
Key Takeaways Of Recovering From Infidelity
There are two things you need to understand about the affair recovery process: it takes time, and it demands a lot of patience, understanding, and effort from both spouses.
The good news (and the only one you should be focusing on) is that it’s possible to recover from infidelity. It’s possible to mend your marriage and save your love.
You just need to want it hard enough. And, of course, have faith in the power of love because, indeed, true love heals, and it is able to face and overcome even the most challenging obstacles.
I’m cheering for your love, and I hope you’ll accept the blessing of growing old together…