Recovery from infidelity is a complex process.
It is by no means a walk in the park. But, with time and effort, it can certainly be achieved.
One indicator for a favorable outcome is how well a couple can incorporate various components that play important roles in the recovery process.
Without certain elements in place—even with counseling—chances for recovery diminish.
Consider a few examples:
3 Factors That Can Prevent Recovery From Infidelity
Factor #1: You’re not communicating
One of the biggest issues blocking reconciliation after an affair is the lack of honest communication between partners. Healing can only start after you begin talking. Full disclosure about the affair is part of that communication. It is important that the entire truth be confessed. The unfaithful partner must be willing to answer certain questions about the affair.
In counseling, we find that some unfaithful partners question the validity and helpfulness of full disclosure. They worry that it only causes more hurt and pain to their spouse or partner.
Yes, it may be painful to hear, but the injured spouse needs information in order to make some sense of what happened. When pieces of the puzzle are missing, they are left to imagine what they are, which is more painful than knowing the truth.
You also have to be willing to talk about your feelings. Both of you need to be able to understand and accept the other’s emotions. Holding those feelings back only breeds resentment, and that is not conducive to healing.
How can you be supportive and empathetic if you don’t know how insecure, angry, sad, or anxious your betrayal makes your partner feel? How can you, the betrayed partner have hope and rebuild trust if you don’t know how ashamed, regretful, and fearful your partner feels about failing you?
Learning to communicate openly and honestly after infidelity is by no means easy. In fact, it will require engaging in what are likely to be the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have —taxing your skills to the max. But you have to do it if you want your relationship to have a chance for recovery.
Factor #2: You’re not willing to forgive
Betrayal is a bitter pill to swallow. It hurts beyond words. For a long time, you won’t have any good days. There’s only bad and worse. As you're going through the emotional rollercoaster of this early phase, trying to digest the facts, you’ll be likely to hurl the brunt of your pain and anger on your spouse. That’s normal.
Eventually, however, you will have to get through that phase and stop punishing your partner for their error. At some point, you’ll have to extend forgiveness to them so they can forgive themselves, too. Recovery of your relationship depends on that.
Of course, forgiveness of such an enormous wrong doesn’t come easy. It requires effort. And at first, the thought of forgiving may even be very contrary to what either of you feels.
Remember that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, excusing, or ignoring the hurtful behavior. It’s not a release from consequences, but it is an essential element for reconciliation.
Factor #3: You’re not taking responsibility
In order for recovery from infidelity to last, you must seek to understand the reasons why the affair happened in the first place. What made he ground fertile for the affair to sprout and grow? Without discovering the real issues behind the betrayal, you can’t truly heal. And the paradox is that even the unfaithful partner often doesn’t really know why they were unfaithful.
So, to get to the bottom of the matter, you’ll have to explore how you got where you are together. True, only one of you had an affair. But both of you have been impacted, both of you need to change, and both of you need to take responsibility if you want a chance at reconciliation.
If you were the unfaithful partner and continue to blame your partner for your betrayal, you’re deflecting your own responsibility for your wrong actions. Of course, it’s easier to blame someone else for your own mistakes. But does their failure to give you all you needed or wanted justify your betrayal? An affair is never the answer to marital unhappiness.
At the same time, as the betrayed partner, does your partner’s failure to be faithful warrant throwing away your marriage? It is likely that both of you have a lot of internal work to do. When you both take responsibility for steps taken and those you’re about to take—when you become accountable for the direction of your relationship—recovery can happen.
There three factors - communication, forgiveness, responsibility - aren't all-inclusive when evaluating the impact of an affair on a marriage or committed relationship. They are, however, essential factors that warrant serious consideration.
The principal questions you must ask are: Do we want counseling to succeed? Do we want to recover our marriage?
If you said yes to both, then please ponder carefully the road blocks you may put up while going through counseling. And resolve not to let anything ruin your chances of recovery!