The 7 most common Setbacks In Affair Recovery.
Honestly, there are a number of ways a couple can derail their affair healing, but these are the most common 7 setbacks in affair recovery.
The first few weeks and months after an affair is revealed are the hardest, obviously.
If you’re the betrayed husband, you’re likely in shock and looking for answers for why your wife cheated.
If you’re the wife who had the affair, you might be feeling confused and embarrassed, and maybe even ambivalent now.
Either way, you’re both likely hurting in your own ways.
When we’re in deep emotional pain, it’s hard to think clearly and easy to hurt each other even more.
Everything becomes clouded under the weight of the affair, and it’s often the sole focus for couples after infidelity is exposed.
You may have serious doubts about your marriage surviving.
But it’s important to remember, your marriage CAN survive this, and even be better on the other side.
Both spouses have a role in recovery but, to be blunt, the burden falls more on the one who strayed.
But the good news is, if you’re the unfaithful spouse, you hold the keys to much of this recovery process.
However, for this to happen, you must be aware of these 7 most common setbacks in affair recovery and marital healing.
1. Continuing any communication with the affair partner.
If you’ve read many of my blog posts, you know I tend to harp on this one a lot.
It’s because this is so important and one of the main setbacks in affair recovery for couples.
Any progress you and your spouse seem to make in healing will be lost when you continue to communicate with your affair partner.
Yes, I know it’s very hard to break it off. It’ll probably be one of the hardest things you’ll do, but it’s incredibly important.
The part of you that wants to continue in this affair will fight and scream and want it’s way. It will try to reason with you that you can still stay friends.
Or, you might think you can let him down slowly because you don’t want to hurt his feelings. You’ll probably try to figure out ways to still contact him, in secret.
Don’t do it. To do any of these things is to continue in the affair.
Don’t kid yourself that you’ll have the willpower to stop once you see him in person again, or communicate online.
That willpower didn’t work for you before too well, right? how will it now?
And the longer you delay breaking it off, the less likely your marriage will ever recover.
2. Maintaining secrets and hiding facts.
Look, it’s hard to talk about. If you were the unfaithful spouse, it’s easy to want to keep certain facts a secret still.
But affair recovery that works, starts with transparency.
Sure it’s embarrassing and hard to discuss with your spouse.
However, when we hide important facts and keep important details hidden, it only creates hinders the rebuilding of trust.
Examples of this are a second cell phone you had kept secret.
Be honest about any email or social media accounts, passwords or bank accounts.
Also, lying about facts like when the affair really started, or when it really ended can also be very damaging.
Think through what the facts were and what you’ve told your spouse.
Are there any discrepancies? These hidden details may seem insignificant to you, but can be extremely damaging to any healing for your spouse.
You might be withholding information because you think it will protect your spouse, and your marriage from more pain.
But what we often don’t realize is these details have a way of getting discovered anyway.
When it’s revealed that we continued to be untruthful to them, you’ll experience a huge setback of affair recovery. Get it all out on the table now. If you honestly don’t remember something, then tell your spouse you don’t remember but will get back to them on it.
Let this be the starting point of no secrets between you.
3. Being unsympathetic to your spouse’s pain.
It’s very common for unfaithful spouses to seem very cold and unfeeling to their betrayed spouse, in the beginning of the affair discovery.
There are many reasons for a lack of compassion that I won’t go into here. But basically, as the unfaithful spouses, we had to separate from our marriage.
There was a disconnect from our spouse, in our hearts and minds.
There may have been some justifications for our affairs, possibly even blaming our spouses for our unhappiness.
Then when the infidelity is exposed, the unfaithful person seems very cold and unsympathetic to the pain they’ve imposed upon their betrayed spouse.
Some of this is a defense mechanism; a self-preservation technique to not allow those feelings of guilt to come in.
But I’m here to tell you, if you’re serious about your marriage being healed after your affair, then you must get serious about this one.
The keys to recovery are mostly in your hands.
To turn away from your spouses pain, to minimize their feelings of paranoia or sorrow, is to only increase their trauma.
And make no mistake, what they have experienced is a trauma.
Some liken it to a PTSD reaction they’ll have. Certain things will trigger their pain all over again.
The best thing you can do for your spouse now is to be sympathetic to what they’re feeling and not being defensive or justifying your behavior.
Let them cry in your presence and hold them, if they’ll let you.
Once our spouse knows we truly care and are sorry about the pain we’ve inflicted upon them, it will go a long way in your marriage healing.
4. Shutting down communication about the affair.
If you were the unfaithful spouse, get ready to answer some questions. It’s very common for betrayed spouses to ask lots of questions.
Wouldn’t you if the roles were reversed?
They’ve been blindsided about a secret relationship you had with someone else, right under their noses.
They likely feel stupid and embarrassed. They want to know with who, where, why, when…?
When you avoid answering these questions, you’re basically telling your spouse that you want to continue the secrecy and you don’t want to let them in.
It’s a sure way to experience setback in your affair recovery.
I know it’s not fun. It really sucks most of the time. You’ll probably want to crawl under a rock and hide.
But it’s absolutely necessary for your spouse to know about this secret life you shared with someone else, in order for there to be a restoring of trust.
Some questions may be especially hard to answer, like sexual details. And this might be the exception.
Many betrayed spouses insist they want to know about these details, but I would urge them to really think long about what they want to know.
Once you get those images in your head, it can be hard to get them out.
Give it some time, if there are some details a betrayed spouse still wants to know, then discussing those with a trained therapist might help.
Another important caveat to the communicating about the affair. There is a time when it’s too much talking and focusing on the affair.
Sure, in the beginning you’ll both be talking a lot about it as you try to sort through what happened.
But you might want to set a time limit of how much you’ll talk about it, and when to stop and pick it up tomorrow.
We actually set a timer and tried hard to stay within that time frame. Then we put it on the shelf and did something else together like play cards at Panera.
If the affair is ALL you talk about, you might get stuck there and not recover, so agree on the amount of time to talk and then stop for the day.
Although this is mostly for the unfaithful spouse, it can apply to both.
If you’ve been unfaithful and want to work on your marriage, yet you’re still not doing those things your spouse needs to trust you,
then your marriage can’t heal from your affair.
What that looks like is different for each betrayed spouse.
Some want you to check in with them often and let them know where you are.
Maybe they want you to not go shopping alone, or answer your phone anytime they call you.
The reasons are not to torture you or treat you like a child. Likely they have some intense triggers, that might not even make sense to you.
Maybe certain songs, movies or locations trigger them about your affair and experience those PTSD feelings all over again.
I used to get defensive in the beginning, once I got really serious about healing my marriage.
I remember resenting the fact that I had to ‘check in’ or not go anywhere alone.
But then I remembered ‘I’m the one who caused him not to trust me, I have to do whatever he needs from me to trust me again.’
Once I reasoned with myself about this, it got easier and I saw progress in his healing.
For example, I knew my going out alone and not answering my phone were triggers for my husband
so I made sure I always had my phone on and answered.
Actually in the beginning, he and I went shopping together a lot.
We spent a lot of time together, and that seemed to help him.
It didn’t last forever, and I saw all of it pay off quickly, once I got serious.
And it will pay off for you, if you’re willing to take whatever steps you need to take to earn your spouse’s trust back.
6. Rushing the process and your mate’s healing.
Although similar to the others, this one is about being impatient in the process which expresses itself as a lack of compassion.
Remember #3 above? Yea, this is similar but add to that a misunderstanding about the time it takes for a marriage to heal after infidelity.
What that looks like is different for each marriage, but what it generally can be between 1-2 years, and sometimes longer.
I know that can sound like an eternity when you’re in the thick of the pain and tension of the rebuilding process.
We can easily get impatient with our spouse, ourselves and the process.
I get it, I was very impatient at times. Patience is not my strongest quality, so add a difficult marriage trying to heal to that equation and you’d see a very frustrated me.
But here’s the thing, your spouse doesn’t want to be in pain either. They’ve been dealt a very hard blow to their soul plus everything they believed to be true. To be blunt, it was at your hands. I can say that because I was just like you. I did it too, so I don’t throw judgement at you. These words are only to help you understand to be patient and trust the process. Do what you need to do to rebuild their trust in you. You can’t rush that kind of healing.
I will add, when we push down our pain just hurry up to the healing part, we often miss some important steps. Pain can’t be swept under the rug for long, eventually it will inch it’s way out to be felt again.
There are a lot of ways this happens, which I won’t go into here.
Just know that you both need to do the work, take the time to heal. Get out your feelings with each other and a therapist.
You’ll have your whole lives together and it’s much sweeter when we don’t rush their healing. And if you are the unfaithful wife, you need healing too.
Read more about how to get the kind of healing you need too, here.
7. Staying stuck in unforgiveness toward your unfaithful spouse.
So here’s the one for you betrayed spouses…you knew I’d get one in for you here right?
Yes, most of these are for the spouse who cheated. But this last one is just as important as the others.
You’ve been dealt a terrible hand, and it wasn’t fair.
You didn’t deserve it and you’ve likely never felt pain like this before.
How easy it is to stay stuck there…in the land of unforgiveness.
Make no mistake, I do mean stuck. Forgiveness is just as much for you as it is for them, maybe you’ve heard that before.
Your spouse has to do their part (the last 6) but one of the most common setbacks for affair recovery is unforgiveness.
Who can ever last under the weight of that? Your spouse can’t and you can’t either.
What kind of marriage will you have if you harbor unforgiveness in your heart to your own spouse? They will feel it everyday. And what can they do at this point to change the past? nothing.
How much can they do to ever earn your trust back again?
Hopefully they are trying to do their own work at the marriage recovery, but if you won’t forgive them, why should they bother?
Think of it this way, you are human and vulnerable to failings too. Maybe different one than having an affair, but remember that we are all capable of making serious mistakes.
Most of the time, we make mistakes we never dreamed we were capable of making before.
Pride goes before a fall. So after the first shock wears off and the anger kicks in, let yourself feel what you must. But just don’t get stuck there.
If you’re a person of faith, remember that God forgave us for much and expects us to forgive others too.
Jesus even goes so far as to state if we don’t forgive others, then our heavenly Father cannot forgive us.
That’s heavy stuff, and not fully possible, apart from the love and compassion He can give us for our spouse.
Let’s review these 7 setbacks in affair recovery:
- Continuing any communication with their affair partner will destroy healing in your marriage. Get to a ground zero in your marriage, where you can start fresh with no ties to them.
- Maintaining secrets, lies and hiding facts.
- Being unsympathetic to your spouse’s pain and trauma.
- Shutting down any communication and questions about the affair.
- Not being willing to do whatever it takes to rebuild trust.
- Rushing and being impatient with your spouse’s healing process.
- To the betrayed Spouse: Staying stuck in unforgiveness toward your unfaithful spouse.
How has this list spoken to you? Is there one area that you’re having more difficulty in than another? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
You can leave a comment on the blog below.