The post-affair recovery process for spouses is often brutal, traumatizing, and filled with immense amounts of grief. The injured partner will end up going through a very similar process to what those experience with traumatic loss.
During this process there are no right or wrong feelings as anger, hatred, confusion, sorrow, resentment, despair, and betrayal will be prominent and will increase and decrease in their severity as the injured partner processes what has happened.
Despite how difficult this recovery struggle will be, if both partners want their relationship to continue, then there are a few questions that need to be asked of the injured spouse, as it will determine how long they will need to recover from the infidelity.
What The Injured Spouse Must Ask Of Their Spouse and Themselves
When it comes to gauging how long it will take to actually recover, the timeline is dependent on many variables.
From how intimate the affair was, to how truthful their spouse is when they come clean, to the identity of the affair partner, to whether counseling is sought out, to how much remorse is shown by the offending partner.
With this said, there are going to be a lot of questions that surround the injured spouse and their partner. These questions will fall into two categories, the first being ones that deal with the spouse directly and the second being questions about personal self.
Here are some common questions you may be asking yourself:
- When will I feel normal?
- Why do I feel like it is my fault?
- Is my wayward spouse a habitual cheater?
- Is their affair over?
- Have they stopped communicating with the affair partner completely?
- Has my partner agreed to be an open book?
- Do you have difficulty letting go?
- Am I having cyclical thoughts/stuck thoughts?
- Is our communication combative or negative in nature?
- Although my spouse is doing everything right, why do I not feel better?
- What are the deal breakers?
- How do we get to the root of why it happened?
- Are your values the same?
- Are you well matched, do they want the same thing as you out of life?
- Were both of you able to be yourselves in the relationship?
- Will they cheat again?
The answers to the above questions will help determine how long the recovery process will be for you because they tell you where you are currently at.
If you are still asking about whether the affair is going on or your partner has not agreed to be an open book yet, then you haven’t even started the healing process and you’re probably still in the beginning stages of the first couple of weeks.
There are a few things that are critical to understand when these questions arise.
1. You will not feel normal for a while: it will be extremely hard to feel normal for quite some time as your emotions will make you feel flat and overwhelmed.
You may feel like the world is disjointed as you hear complete strangers talking about mundane things while your world falls apart. This is part of the grieving process and you have to give it time.
You will laugh again and you will be able to pick up your favorite book or hobby again.
What must be understood with this is that a normal feeling may not stay normal, and you may hit rock bottom again and again. Have faith that time will help you heal a little bit more each time.
2. You may feel like it is your fault, but it isn’t: everyone at some point wants to blame themselves because everyone is looking for the meaning in it. However, the idea that it is your fault is false as you are not responsible for someone else’s actions.
You own fifty percent of the marriage, but they own 50 percent of the marriage and one hundred percent of their actions.
3. It is normal to get stuck in cycles: absolutely! You will only stop thinking the same thoughts and asking the same questions once you have completely absorbed the answers and the situation.
You are not obsessed or crazy, and your spouse should be prepared to answer over and over again. Those who have been in “traumatic events tend to tell the story over and over” to try and process it.
4. You will need to understand the why: but it is very important that the why is not an excuse for the behavior. The short of it is that the why is that the spouse made the choice to betray their loved one.
What you are really looking for is the environment and thought processes that lead to that betrayal. Understanding what lead up to the infidelity is important so that it is not repeated but the injured spouse should not take responsibility for how their partner felt prior to the adultery.
5. Deal breakers will need to be identified: these are things that you are unwilling to accept and if they happen, they will end the marriage. These will vary from person to person but may include, continued contact with the affair partner, multiple affairs, and lying.
6. Understand if you are capable of forgiveness: the capacity for forgiveness is crucial if there is going to be reconciliation between partners. This will be determined by how long you have been in a relationship with your spouse, how much time has been invested into one another, and what your level of commitment is.
If you do not forgive easily or hold grudges, it will take a lot longer to get to the end point of reconciliation.
Other questions that you may come across can include, how do you know if you are truly recovering, can you trust that this will not happen again, are you willing to trust your partner again?
Although finding out the answers to these may take awhile, it is important that you do not get stuck with bitterness and pain because you are unwilling to trust.
Instead, take a step back and choose to learn how to communicate, re-discover your partner, and find a support group or get coaching if you are struggling with trust.