According to the Infidelity Institute, it takes around 18 months to recover from an affair. But this is merely a standard industry answer. In reality, the road to reconciliation is different for every couple and timelines for effective affair recovery vary greatly.
But how do you forgive someone you love for hurting you? To truly heal together after an affair, couples must understand two important concepts:
- Infidelity leaves deep, painful, emotional and psychological scars that take time and dedication to work through.
- Forgiveness isn’t straightforward, and learning how to heal from infidelity trauma as a couple demands a lot of self-restraint and patience.
We want to make sure that any couple who has experienced such a painful event has the resources they need. Nobody should have to carry the pain and trauma their entire lives or let it identify them forever. Let’s take a look at and elaborate on each of these points to explain how a couple can move past an affair and, surprisingly, build a stronger bond.
Why Does Infidelity Hurt So Much?
The main reason an affair causes so much pain is because infidelity has a lasting impact on a person’s psyche. To illustrate, here are a few of the most common long term infidelity effects:
- For the person who was cheated on, an affair can cause chronic anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. Some studies have even suggested that infidelity may produce PTSD symptoms at a relatively high rate. These feelings can last long after the infidelity is discovered and are often challenging to process and move past without professional help.
- Infidelity can make it more difficult to fall back in love. Our brains naturally generate more oxytocin and dopamine when we are in love. But when we experience infidelity, the pathways our brain uses to release these chemicals become disrupted, which impacts an individual’s ability to love themselves and others, again.
- Affairs make it harder for people to trust themselves, their partners, and also cause many to develop a general mistrust of others—including family, friends, and coworkers. In reference to trust issues, Psychologist Steven Stonsy states, “Just as the harm of a gunshot wound threatens the general health of the body, intimate betrayal goes well beyond issues of trust and love to infect the way we make sense of our lives in general.” For many couples in affair recovery, learning to trust again is their most significant challenge.
Can You Truly Forgive an Affair?
The short and quick answer is yes; it is possible to truly forgive an affair. But short and quick solutions are not the most helpful when it comes to affair recovery. In truth, the path to forgiveness is paved with patience. Both partners in the relationship must be patient with themselves and with each other as they navigate difficult topics and heal their wounds. Ultimately, it’s best to avoid putting a timeline on your recovery process. Another point to recognize is that couples do not have to recover on their own.
With the guidance of a licensed, specialized counselor, healing a relationship after infidelity is a much more peaceful and effective process. Throughout recovery, it’s often difficult for individuals to learn how to describe the pain of infidelity and express its impact on their personal well being. A counselor can help both parties express their feelings and unique perspectives in a healthy and productive way. They can also help you uncover reasons not to divorce after infidelity.
At Well Marriage Center, our counselors will work with you and your partner to examine the dynamics that lead to infidelity, and explore your relationship to develop a healthy solution for both partners. Our ultimate goal is to help you forgive and better understand one another so you both can achieve a higher level of relational health and forge a secure and loving relationship.
If you’re ready to begin again, take the first step and schedule your appointment today.