Recovering from infidelity is difficult, but doable. How you recover will be different if you are the one who committed the infidelity or if it was your loved one.
For some relationships, infidelity is a deal breaker. It is the end of the road and if the cheater is caught, the relationship ends. In those cases, even when forgiveness is possible, restoration of trust is not and the relationship will sour. For everyone else, recovery is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of soul searching.
If there are steps to break down the recovery process, the first step in recovering from infidelity is to acknowledge that it happened. Acknowledgment begins with a confession preferably, but even before that it begins when the infidelity is discovered. Don’t be surprised to experience stages of grief as you go through your recovery process. Infidelity damages relationships by hurting you and the trust and faith you have in your relationship.
The first stage of grief is denial. You can’t admit that this is happening to you or at least you can’t believe it. Your emotions go up and down. But you have to break through the denial and admit that it happened. Infidelity doesn’t happen in a vacuum and while the reasons may be numerous, you can’t deal with infidelity or the problems it highlights without admitting it happened.
Getting angry at your partner is a natural reaction once you have acknowledged that he or she has been unfaithful. Although anger is healthy, seeking revenge should not be the goal of this step. You need to acknowledge the anger, and you need to explore exactly why you feel this way. Is it the actual act of infidelity, the sense of betrayal, hurt feelings or something else that is stimulating your anger? Are the infidelity and the feelings it arouses in you complicated? Don’t dismiss those complications by trying to downplay why you are angry. You may need to take a few days to “work it out” in your own head. But never make a decision about your relationship or what you’re going to do when you’re angry. Your partner needs to give you space to process this.
Getting angry at your partner is a natural reaction once you have acknowledged that he or she has been unfaithful
Grieving and negotiating
The process of recovering from infidelity is as follows. In the stages of grief, there will also be negotiation. This is the point at which your partner will apologize or apologize profusely for their actions. You are not going to be sure if they are apologizing because they are genuinely mortified, or if they are just scared because they were caught. Don’t try to examine their motivations right now. If they can’t give you your space, then it may be time to take a couple of days off (if you can). If there are children involved, any time spent in front of them or with the family should become “neutral territory.” The only deal you and your partner should make at this point is to allow yourself to control the conversation, for now. But the processing stage can take months sometimes and most relationships can’t live in limbo. You need to get past the anger and grief so you can evaluate whether the relationship is worth repairing and work together. Once you come to that conclusion, you are ready to let things go or move on to the next stage.
If you have reached this stage, you are working together to save your relationship. Sometimes the romantic aspect may be dampened or extinguished for a while. But you are working to repair the relationship and that means you have accepted that the infidelity happened. Don’t expect the bitter tast in your mouth to pass easily. You’re likely to get emotional at any mention of the infidelity. If you and your partner have made it this far, you should consider seeing a marriage counselor or relationship counselor as a way to facilitate the discussions you will need to rebuild trust in your relationship.
If you have reached this stage, you are working together to save your relationship
Can your relationship survive infidelity? The short answer is yes, a relationship can survive infidelity. The long answer is that every relationship is different. Recovery and the time it takes for your relationship to recover is not measured by anyone’s standards but your own. If you and your partner want to work together, love each other enough to forgive each other’s flaws and any hurt inflicted: then your relationship does have a chance.