The journey of recovering from an affair is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s by no means a smooth journey, but one that is strewn with obstacles and setbacks seemingly at every turn. Affair recovery takes a long time and is much more complex than most people either want or look forward to.
And as I consider the factors that cause some relationships to fail after the betrayal, I’ve identified five main fears that will hinder your infidelity recovery efforts.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these five fears, and then see what to do instead.
1) Getting to the truth about the affair – This is a tough one to deal with. How do you know if he is telling you the truth and not still lying? Short of having your spouse take a polygraph test, it is impossible to tell with 100% certainty if you’re being told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Another thing to consider is your partner may not be willing to talk for fear of causing you more pain or they may not fully understand your need to know.
What to do instead – Help your spouse to understand why you need answers and why you must have the whole truth. Let him know the truth will help you heal and that more secret and lies would destroy you. If you want to personally heal and give your marriage a fighting chance, you need to be persistent and not give up and accept his stonewalling. This is not saying that you should nag him to death, it simply means making clear that the issue is not going to go away until it’s dealt with.
The important thing to remember is to not punish or retaliate against your spouse for giving honest answers to your questions. Your spouse is not going to continue to answer your questions if every time he does you heap abuse upon his head, even though you feel it is justified.
2) Your spouse no longer loves you – Does having an affair prove your spouse no longer loves you? After all if he loved me he would not have had the affair, right? A lot of people feel this way but the situation is not as simple as it seems. While some who engage in extra marital affairs no longer love their partner, others still love their mates, sometimes they just want to have their cake and eat it too.
What to do instead – There’s a good chance that when your wayward spouse emerges from the fog, you’ll find that the love is still there. The best way for you to recover from the betrayal is to understand and gain perspective about why affairs happen. In Dr. Huizenga’s excellent book “Break Free From the Affair,” he goes into great detail about the different types of affair that will help you to see that your spouse’s infidelity may have nothing to do with him not loving you at all.
3) Will they cheat again – Oh, if only I had crystal ball! Wouldn’t it be nice if it were possible to look into the future and know for sure that your spouse is not going to cheat on you again? Unfortunately there are no guarantees in life and the truth is that many people who cheat once do cheat again.
What to do instead – To minimize the chances of future affairs, both of you need to personally heal and do whatever it takes, such as reading about affairs in general and why they happen and getting individual counseling or coaching. You will need to set appropriate boundaries for your relationship and also learn strategies and techniques on how to affair-proof your marriage and meet each others needs. There is a lot more involved than can be covered in this article. For a step-by-step plan, I recommend you take a look at “How to Survive an Affair.”
4) That you will not be able to forgive – This is another demon to battle. How can you forgive someone who has hurt you so terribly? Deciding whether to forgive your spouse or not; that is something only you can decide. It takes time to work through all the pain and misery inherent in cheating before you can get to the point of forgiving.
What to do instead – If forgiveness is too overwhelming for you to grapple with now, you should try acceptance, just so you can move forward and not remain stuck. Accepting that the affair happened will bring you peace and help you let go of the anger and bitterness you may be feeling. And though you will never forget the affair, accepting frees you to move on with your life together until such time that you can whole-hardheartedly forgive your spouse for cheating on you.
5) Not being able to work through your feelings – You’ve been betrayed, lied to and deceived by someone you loved and trusted, so naturally you are feeling sad and angry among other things. The thing is you need to learn how to deal with your runaway emotions and not let them get the better of you, and the sooner the better. Because these emotions are so very painful, the tendency is to want to bury them so they’ll go away, but this does not work to your advantage nor help you heal.
What to do instead – According to Dr. Gunzburg, you need to learn how to “process your painful emotions effectively, because you have to know what you are feeling before you can effectively cope with your feelings.” Inside Section 2 of his “How to Survive an Affair” program, Dr. Gunzburg provides a 3-step method for helping you take control of the thoughts so that you will feel less insecure and unstable.
For affair recovery to work, both of you need to whole-hardheartedly commit to making it work. As with any crisis, an affair can either break you or make you stronger.