Here’s a basic outline of general steps I’ve seen thousands take over the past years as they face and recover from the affair.
Briefly, here’s a skeleton, my beginning point, for the 7 steps to affair recovery.
1. You discover the affair and you are in shock. Enough said.
2. As you move through the shock and become more alive, you begin to make two huge mental shifts.
First, you learn about infidelity and that it truly is an act of temporary insanity which has little to do with you.
Second, from that first awareness, you begin to firmly believe and feel that you are not at fault. You are not defective!
As a side note from one of my readers:
“Dr. Bob, when I went to see my physician for some medication to help me cope, he offered that I needed to go home and figure out what my husband was getting from the other woman that I wasn’t giving him. He also recommended Dr. Laura’s book on Care and Feeding of Husbands. My hunch, given this physician is in a second marriage to a much younger woman, that he cheated on his first wife. You may want to warn your readers that others might try and convince you it is your fault. I was able to go back and confront my physician about how inappropriate this had been (on the advice of my marriage counselor she said she wouldn’t practice medicine if he didn’t practice marital therapy!).”
3. The second step frees you from your personal neediness and fears (which make you awfully unattractive) and you face squarely the question: “Do I REALLY want to be married to him/her?”
4. Once at peace with your answer, you begin devising strategies that will intervene in the affair. You experiment to see if your actions can elicit a different response, perhaps end the affair or create some breakthrough (dependent on the kind of affair facing you.)
5. Your strategies and interventions, over time, give you the information you need to decide whether the relationship is a go or no-go. Do I stay or leave? You decide.
6. The two of you commit to rebuilding your relationship and lives.
7. You begin to create and build your life apart from him/her.
Yes, it is an interesting journey. And, it takes time. I say, without help and support, anywhere from 2-4 years. With guidance and a desire to learn about infidelity you can cut back on that time frame considerably.
Read what others, perhaps like you, describe as their healing journey:
“The first 4 weeks were awful, cannot describe the emotional torture, just getting by was hurting. But somewhere inside of all us is the need to rise up in spite of what has happened. Friends became a key factor. Walking became a stress buster. I did not want any down time to think or to feel. Although its important to face your feelings, the first few weeks are about getting up and get moving. Walking constantly was all I could do. I would walk and cry at the same time. Eventually the crying stops but walking continues. Play your walkman. Listen to upbeat music only – no sad songs. Talk to your friends. Family is good too, but too close to the situation. Keep active and productive. It’s amazing what it can do. I did not think so at first, but I needed something to do, somewhere to go. Exercising/walking was it as well as friends. I drove them nuts talking to them. I also searched for answers as to why. That’s how I came upon Dr Huizenga’s web site. The need to understand. It does not change the hurt but it gave me an insight into infidelity and I was not alone. People referred me to the phoenix rising and I did just that. It took a lot but I survived. You can too.”
“The pain was so intense after 37 years of marriage discover my husband was having an affair with a friend was so totally devastating that I remember crying for months, but the one bit of advice that helped me was something I read that said, “Infidelity is like a death and the advice not to make life changing decisions for a year unless you have not other options apply to infidelity as well. You can get a divorce anytime so don’t rush to that decision.” That helped me be able to put one foot in front of the other the first few weeks/months and realize that the divorce decision could be made later when I was saner. It has been almost 2 years and we are still together.”
“I wanted information. I wanted both experiential and clinical information. All was validating–that my desire to know, my behaviors and feelings were all normal. I learned about well meaning counselors causing more damage than harm. I learned that there are recovery “maps” available which allowed me a time frame and not to feel that the recovery is taking forever. I did learn that, in order to heal the couple must move from blame to understanding.”