Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Healing After the Affair: Whether or Not to Get Help

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During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

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Be sure to check out the brand new video at the bottom of this article!

Have you decided to make the life you currently have better? Or do you, like many others, feel paralyzed and unable to take the next step? If you feel as though you're stuck, due to being unsure of what direction you should take or who you should seek help from, we understand.

The Least Productive Decision

A number of people in a past survey identified "not getting help" as the least productive thing they did after discovery of an affair. What stopped them from getting the help they needed? Doctors report that telling someone they are going to have a heart attack rarely affects a change in lifestyle. Generally, that individual will wait until they've actually had the heart attack to implement change.

According to research conducted by John Gottman, most couples wait, on average, six years before seeking marriage counseling. Are we simply unaware that we need to get help?

I don't believe that's the reason.

I think a possible explanation might be what psychologists refer to as "decision paralysis."

Too Much Complexity Hurts

Making a decision between one unknown and another can leave us stuck. In fact, people tend to be driven to irrational decisions because of too much complexity.

As described in the book, Made to Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, two psychologists, Amos Tversky and Eldar Shafir, conducted research revealing that the mere existence of uncertainty altered how people made decisions, even when they knew the desired outcome. For instance, imagine that you're in college and you've just completed an important final exam a couple of weeks before the Christmas holidays. You have to wait two days to get the exam results back. Meanwhile, you see an opportunity to purchase a vacation to Hawaii during the holidays at a bargain–basement price. Here are your three options: You can buy the vacation today, pass on it today, or pay a five-dollar fee to lock in the price for two days, allowing you to make your decision after you get your grades.

What would you do? Like the students who faced this choice in the experiment, you may feel some desire to know the outcome of your exam before you decide. So Tversky and Shafir simply removed this uncertainty for two groups of participants. These groups were told up front how they did on the exam. Some students were told that they passed the exam, and 57% of them chose to go on the trip. (It would make for a good celebration after all!) Other students were told that they failed the exam, and 54% of them chose to go on the trip (It would make for good recuperation, after all!) The majority of both pass and fail groups decided to go to Hawaii.

But here's the twist: the group of students who didn't know the final exam results behaved completely differently. The majority of them (61%) paid five dollars to wait for two days. Think about that! If you pass, you want to go to Hawaii. If you fail, you want to go to Hawaii. But if you don't know whether you passed or failed, you'd wait and see? This doesn't seem logical. The majority of students were going to take the trip regardless of whether they passed or failed, but they wanted to know the outcome before they made the decision.1

Is The Marriage Going To Make It?

The same dilemma exists for those hurt by infidelity: you don't know whether the marriage will succeed or fail, but I bet you want a better life regardless. If that's the case, why do we choose to wait to see what's going to happen before we take the necessary steps to heal from infidelity?

You might be thinking, "But Rick, I don't know whether or not I even want the marriage" and you're probably right, you don't know. But you do know that you want something better than what you have right now and doing nothing does absolutely nothing to get you out of your current situation.

You don't have to know the outcome before you make the decision to choose to live a better life after infidelity.

If you feel stuck, I encourage you to take action. I recently spoke with a woman at EMS Weekend who had done nothing for her own recovery since the discovery of the affair two and a half years prior. Although she had gone to marriage counseling, she postponed personal recovery work while she waited to see how the marriage would settle. She was frustrated and felt abandoned by her spouse. She knew she wanted a new life but felt perpetually on hold. Thankfully, she decided to take action at our weekend intensive. Even though she couldn't be sure of the outcome, she moved forward and has experienced healing, restoration, and overall understanding of her own recovery process.

Each one of us can do the same. Our life, and our life alone, is always worth our recovery efforts.

Don't wait to decide what you're going to do about the marriage. Get help now from others who can provide positive and expert support and therapy–people who can help lead you on this journey. Sign up for one of our EMS Weekends to jumpstart your healing, new life, and positive direction. Watch the video below of a couple on the third day of EMS Weekend sharing their experience.

Cover more ground faster with the life-changing experience of EMS Weekend for couples.

This isn't another light-and-fluffy program that only scratches the surface of your pain. The EMS Weekend Experience is a safe space for you and your partner to start putting the pieces of your life back together, transform your trauma and begin healing from infidelity. Skeptical about the effectiveness of this experience? Don't be! Backed by a slew of previous participant testimonials, EMS Weekend delivers results month after month for countless couples.

During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

Sign Up Now!



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Separation was what I needed...

Separation was what I needed to slap me in the face to tell me to wake up from my addiction and apathy. When she left, I was faced with the terror of abandonment. That shocked me into repentance immediately. I knew I wanted to grow old together as best friends and told her so. She was cold and distant for a couple of months as she watched me come to realizations on my own and then seek outside help and revive my spiritual life to greater than what it ever was. She was working on herself at the same time and we eventually started working on the marriage, having mutual realizations, planning the future, and designing the new relationship to come. All the while, I saw her ambivalence fading until now it's gone completely and we have a shared, evolving vision of the future. We never would have got to this point if not for her courage to leave, but with a kernel of love left in her heart. Now, the separation gives us space to keep working on ourselves and surrender our personalities to God. When it's time to come back together physically we will be the same people but different, better versions of ourselves. Our marriage will be us together under God like never before. I thank Affair Recovery for their role in the rebuilding of our marriage.

Fear of the Truth ?

Reading this article I am taken back a difficult time in this process. A time when I felt things were my fault. When the bomb dropped and got even deeper into therapy (suggested by my unfaithful wife) feeling more like things are my fault. But therapy was off the table for her, again because it's all my fault. And any mention of couples/marriage counseling is met with almost anger, more than likely because it's my fault. To this day, almost 3 years later, it's only me seeking help. I can't excuse it but, I attribute it to the fact that my spouse is a therapist. In all actuality it is more likely the fear of what may come up in her own healing process. I refuse to force the issue because she is an adult capable of making her own decisions. All I can do is give her what she needs from me and hope those lines are never crossed again. I won't go through this another time.

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