Affair healing Blog
Following an affair, the recovery of the marriage is not the only option. But partners who decide to heal together will take different steps toward that goal.
The vertical pairing of the steps listed below depicts how partners are connected to each other’s experiences and actions. Discovery should be met with disclosure. One partner’s trauma should lead to the other’s remorse which, in turn, can shorten the traumatic ordeal. Empathy should be offered to pain. Honesty needs to be met with acceptance. Atonement encourages forgiveness, and both partners must take the vulnerable risks necessary to reestablish trust.
If either partner fails to take the necessary steps, the journey stops. If they remain stuck, then complete relationship healing cannot occur.
Having already reviewed the steps of the Involved Partner, let's consider what steps the Injured Partner must take if a couple chooses to heal their marriage...
Discovery: Healing begins with knowing the truth about your partner’s infidelity. Whether your partner voluntarily disclosed it to you, or you found out about it on your own, you need to have a clear perspective of what actually happened. In this first step, I do not encourage an exhaustive exploration of every detail. A more thorough exploration should happen later in the healing process. (Partner’s Related Step: Disclosure)
Trauma: The discovery of an affair begins a period of deeply felt emotions, including fear, pain, and despair. For many, this will be “the worst experience of my life.” Most will eventually find their way back to stability and perhaps move on toward healthy change. Some, however, will become stuck in the trauma, experiencing a future that is always defined by the past. (Partner’s Related Step: Remorse)
Pain: The hurt of betrayal is a lasting pain. It is a deep wound that requires time and attention in order to heal, long after the initial reaction to the affair’s discovery. (Partner’s Related Step: Empathy)
Acceptance: Relationship recovery and renewal requires careful attention to the truth. The Involved Partner must be willing to give an honest account of what happened and why it happened. The Involved Partner decides whether or not they are able/willing to believe the confessions. Healing requires both truth-telling and truth-accepting. (Partner’s Related Step: Honesty)
Forgiveness: Before intimacy and trust can be restored in a relationship, forgiveness must be granted to the offender. This act does not negate or erase the offense; it simply puts it (and keeps it) in its proper place—the past. (Partner’s Related Step: Restitution)
Trust-Giving: In order for trust to be re-established after an affair, three things are required: (1) time, (2) the Involved Partner’s efforts to regain it, and (3) the Injured Partner’s eventual willingness to risk trusting again. (Partner’s Related Step: Trust-Building)
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources.