I often hear from spouses (usually wives) who feel that they their recovery time after their spouse’s cheating or affair has taken far too long. I often hear comments like:
“It’s been six months since I found about his affair. Why haven’t I recovered by now?”
“Or my husband has been trying for a long time to make up for his cheating. How come I haven’t been able to get over it or recover? He’s started to ask me if I even want to move on or if I’m going to hold a grudge or punish him forever. The truth is, I DO want to move past this. But something always seems to remind me of it to hurt me again. And when this happens, the cheating seems like it happened yesterday.”
The thing that saddens me the most about comments such as these is that the person saying them seems to think that this is their fault, that there is something wrong with them, or that they aren’t trying to recover hard enough. Often, nothing is further from the truth.
I wish I could tell you that there’s a certain time frame in which you should recover from cheating or an affair. Unfortunately, this differs for everyone. It’s not as if you wake up one day and declare yourself recovered, but if you take a very methodical approach and accept nothing less. you CAN and will recover. In the following article, I will hopefully offer some tips to make your recovery come a little faster.
What Most People Need To Recover From Cheating, An Affair, Or Infidelity: As I said, one size does not fit all here. Everyone is different. However, I’ve written about my experience for a long time now and I hear from many people dealing with this issue. I find that many people need the same things in order to move on (myself included.) In general, in order to recover, you’ll at some point need:
1. To know and believe that your spouse is truly sorry. You have to believe that your spouse is willing to do whatever it takes to make this up to you to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
2. To have some understanding of why the affair, cheating, or infidelity happened and to know it wasn’t your fault. Often an affair happens when someone is having internal struggles that they are not dealing with properly (or don’t have the tools to deal with properly.) Both people must learn how to identify and then deal with these issues so the cheating doesn’t happen again.
3. To learn to trust, respect, and like your spouse again. This is a big issue. When someone you love betrays you, respect is lost. You start to think that you never really knew them at all. You question their integrity and honor and at times, you no longer like and/or trust them very much. They have to earn this back and you both have to work hard to rebuild.
4. To rebuild your marriage and yourself. This truly is a process of healing, recovery, and rebuilding. It can take some time. Do not beat yourself up if you aren’t meeting some arbitrary deadline in your own head.
You can’t expect to have the same marriage that you had and you probably wouldn’t want it now anyway. But, frankly, if you take the time to rebuild, you can have something better.
The same holds true for you personally. Because your self-esteem has probably been hurt as well, you’ll need to build yourself back up on a personal level because it’s hard to believe that your spouse still loves and desires you if you doubt this about yourself.
What Happens If I Want To Recover (And Feel Like I Should Have Gotten Over The Cheating Or Affair) But I Just Can’t?: If you feel this way, you’ll want to look at which needs aren’t being met. Look at the list above and see if any of the issues ring a bell for you. If so, you have to be proactive rather than just waiting for things to happen.
This might mean having frank discussions or being very methodical about your own recovery and healing. If you need help or support, please get it. I know this is a painful time, but you deserve to have this end as quickly as possible. No one deserves to have this follow them around for any longer than is necessary because it just saps the joy out of other places in your life.
Sometimes, your want to do all this but your spouse is lagging behind or just doesn’t know how to or have the tools to get with the program. In this case, sometimes you will have to learn how to help them help you with your recovery. Often, it’s not that they don’t want to help you, it’s that they don’t know how. You can do this.
Although there was a time when I thought I would never recover after my husband’s affair, this is in the past. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com