This post is a bit different than some you’ll find out there.
This is about the affair recovery for the betrayer.
Are you the one who was unfaithful?
Are you feeling pretty crappy right now and unsure when (or if) you’ll ever feel free of guilt and shame?
Then this post is written directly to you, my friend.
Many articles and blog posts are written for the purpose of how a betrayed spouse can heal from their partners infidelity. Those are all important and necessary articles.
But I wanted to address the process for how those of us who were unfaithful, heals and recovers after our affairs.
And make no mistake, those of us who were unfaithful know (eventually) how desperately we need healing and forgiveness.
To those who are still in the affair:
If you’re reading this, and still in the affair, you might not think there’s anything to ‘recover from’.
I get that. But trust me, there will come a day you’ll want to reference this post.
Then there are those of you who are hurting and in pain because you’re aware of the damage your infidelity has caused. That’s okay, it’s a start.
There was obviously something very broken inside us that needed healing long before the affair even happened.
Affairs are only a symptom of a pain and insecurity that was stuffed and not dealt with.
This pain displays itself in the most unhealthy and destructive way within a marriage, when someone chooses to have an affair.
Let me also add, you still need affair recovery as the betrayer even if your marriage doesn’t survive this.
You are a special and important person in the eyes of God, and you still need healing and peace.
I used to think I didn’t deserve to feel better because I had caused all this with my own poor choices, but that’s not true. We all need healing even when it’s ourselves that got us into our own mess.
So remember that as you go through this list.
I can only speak from my perspective as a former unfaithful wife, these are the steps I took that helped me heal my broken heart and life. Then I was able to help my husband heal and trust me again.
Here are my top 6 steps to
affair recovery for the betrayer.
1. Affair Recovery can only begin once the affair has ended.
This is my first step towards you healing after your affair, for a reason. I know it may seem obvious, but it needs to be said. There really cannot be healing of your heart (and life) until the very thing that’s caused all this pain and turmoil has ended. The affair, and all contact with the affair partner, needs to end.
Believe me, I tried to reason with myself that I could still be happy and continue on the way I was going, but I only became more miserable. Even if you (or your spouse) decide NOT to stay in the marriage, you still owe it to yourself to take a step back away from the affair.
When we continue on in the affair, it only muddies the water and prevents us from facing the truth that will facilitate our healing. It’s like picking a scab that wants to heal. Every time there’s contact with the affair partner, that scab was just picked again.
The pain and brokenness you’ll likely feel because of the affair won’t go away until it is completely over.
2. Accept that your feelings will lie to you for a while.
You’ll likely have moments of clarity when you know you want to heal your marriage. But then, moments of missing your affair partner will break in and you’ll think you can’t live without him.
This is perfectly normal and part of the rollercoaster ride that occurs as you seek healing after your affair.
Our feelings can be fickle and they aren’t always true to reality.
I used to think I could never live without my affair partner and I told myself this all the time, which only reinforced the lie in my head.
I was the epitome of a confused woman torn between two lovers, as the old song goes. As long as I continued to believe those lies, I couldn’t heal and move forward.
Once you make the decision of what you want your life to look like and what you really want it to be, then move forward with that.
Don’t let your rollercoaster emotions pull you back into it.
Your recovery and healing depend upon you doing the next right thing,
no matter what your feelings are screaming to you.
And as a side note: Guess what? I have lived without my affair partner for almost 12 years now,
and I’m even happier now than I ever was while with him.
My affair kept me in a fog, believing lies that kept me holding on to a fantasy, far longer than I should have.
3. Be kind to yourself as you navigate the shame and guilt that will come.
There comes a point, after the affair has ended, when your eyes are opened and remorse and pain set it, as you realize what you have really done.
For some people, that reality is slow going. For others, it hits like a freight train once the affair partner is out of the picture.
Suddenly you won’t have the distraction and temporary thrill of the forbidden fruit. You can’t numb away the guilt with sex, attention from your affair partner or the distraction of keeping track of the lies. This is when the shame and guilt can come knocking the loudest and it’s so easy to sink into depression when you’re facing the reality of what you’ve done.
I struggled with shame and guilt during my affair but always pushed it down and let myself get distracted from it with the methods I just mentioned.
However, once I stopped the affair, ended all contact and was actively trying to heal my marriage, it all hit me very hard.
The affair fog was gone and I was left with the remnants of a shattered life and marriage that I had caused.
Maybe you can relate to these feelings. It is very hard to describe to anyone who has not been there themselves.
I think the depth of that shame and guilt will depend upon the person, but it truly hit me so hard I wanted to end my own life.
If it wasn’t for my counselor, my forgiving husband and God, I wouldn’t be here today. (That is a post for another day, but it shows how serious these emotions are, and to not let yourself be swallowed up by them).
Be kind to yourself even if nobody else is right now. Don’t let those accusing thoughts push you down into a pit where suicide seems the only way out.
Yes, you made a mistake.
Yes, it’s bad, but it doesn’t mean YOU are bad. There is a difference and it took me quite a while to separate the two for myself.
4. Find a very good, compassionate counselor to confide in.
Finding a good counselor will be very important in your affair recovery as the betrayer. You can’t do this alone. Having a safe, neutral person to confide in and help you navigate the difficult waters ahead is vital.
But finding a ‘good counselor’ can be the tricky part. What do I mean by “good counselor”?
Well, there are some people who really don’t know how to be objective, especially when it comes to counseling somehow who has been unfaithful.
Counselors are human and they’re bound to have their own opinions and baggage about adultery at times.
Ask me how I know this….
So, do your research and ask the tough questions of them like ‘what is your position if a marriage can survive after infidelity?’
And ‘what methods of counseling do you use to help me as I seek recovery from my affair?’
Basically, you want to know they will be your advocate and not judge or belittle you.
Although no counselor would say that, it was unfortunately my experience and it was extremely painful after confiding in this person so much.
But it’s still vital to your recovery that you find a compassionate counselor who will encourage you to be your best. That might mean telling you tough stuff sometimes.
I am so glad I didn’t give up after the awful counseling experience I had. I eventually found my own personal counselor and she was amazing. God worked through this counselor to get me back on the right track, which was so important for my affair recovery as the one who was unfaithful.
5. Take time to rediscover yourself.
It’s easy to lose ourselves in what we do for others everyday. There’s nothing wrong with serving and loving your family, it’s what most of us as mom’s and wives do on a daily basis.
The problems come when we forget to take care of our needs, and I suspect that is one of the reasons many women have affairs.
We forget to do those things we used to do that made us happy and helped form us into the women we’ve become. What are those hobbies or interests that made you-you?
For me, it was art. From the time I was a little girl, I was always drawing and coloring. It was my safe place and part of my identity and stress reliever.
But for some reason, after I had kids, I stopped drawing. There were occasions where I’d create crafts for people or paint and decorate our house, but for the most part, I stopped.
I’d put aside the very thing that helped form me into the person I was-art.
That’s okay for a little while. We all get busy with careers, marriage babies and life. But we can easily fall into a rut and look for ways to escape our busy, draining life.
That is a vulnerable time for a wife.
You are more than just a Mommy, Wife, Daughter or Friend.
You are a beautiful woman who has a void in her life and heart right now. Rediscover what used to fill that void, or look for new hobbies and interests, in a healthy way.
6. Renew your mind and change your life.
I know I risk sounding crazy and cliché here, but it’s the truth. If you don’t like where your life is now, start with what’s going on in your thoughts.
What are the messages you’re telling yourself about what you’ve done?
Can you identify the thoughts that led you down the road to having an affair?
You might be thinking this does not seem to fit in the subject but it really has everything to do with affair recovery for the betrayer.
For most of us, the thoughts we’ve allowed to fill our minds have often been the catalyst that caused us to eventually act upon them.
For me, as a person of faith, I finally went to God in prayer, being real and broken before Him.
He was the only one who could truly heal my heart and take the old sinful desires away that I still had.
I had to get honest with myself, and with God, and admit I was still struggling. (Besides, He knows all about us already anyway right?)
I knew I had to replace the thoughts I had before that had gotten me in the mess I was in, or my life was never going to change. So I starting read my bible again, letting the words of Jesus wash over me.
I also had to change some habits and messages I told myself. We also started going to a marrieds bible study together, which helped us heal as a couple.
Little by little I found my mind thinking on better things.
I replaced my old negative and obsessive thoughts about the affair with better thoughts.
This renewing of my mind eventually spilled out into my actions and changed my life.
To summarize, you might think you don‘t deserve, or need, healing or recovery after your affair, but you do.
That recovery cannot happen until you’ve ended the affair however. That means all contact with the affair partner.
Also remember that your feelings will lie to you and you’ll be on a rollercoaster of emotions, including guilt and shame. This is common even when we’re starting to do the right thing, but it will lessen over time.
It’s important to find a good counselor who will help you navigate these emotions.
Take time for yourself and rediscover those old hobbies or things you used to do that made you who happy.
Lastly, remember that the ultimate healing and affair recovery for you as the betrayer can only come from God. Even if you don’t share my faith, give Him a chance. Take a minute and tell him your pain and even that you’re struggling to believe. He can handle it. Renewing your mind with what He says about you is the most healing thing of all.
Was there anything in this post that spoke to you? What are you struggling with the most about receiving healing after your affair?
I welcome your comments and insights.