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

How Long Does It Take to Recover From An Affair?

There is an old psychotherapy joke, “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb’s got to really want to change.” With infidelity, I only wish it was as simple as having enough “want to.” Learning how to recover from an affair isn’t just a matter of how badly someone wants to heal, it’s also a matter of time. How long does it take? It depends. One thing is for sure, recovering from an affair will take longer than expected, and it’s …
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We are just over

We are just over 7 months. I'm very hopeful for the next few months of working on finding respect and trust again, but now nervous about the one-year date.  I'm still in such pain, grief, anger and disappointment in my mate...but it is slowly (very slowly) getting better.  Inch by inch is still progress.

This is the most hopeful and giving article you have ever published.  Thank you for making me not feel crazy and guilty for not recovering sooner.  I needed this today, more than I can ever explain.

Rational Talk

First, I appreciate you taking time to write and talk about these different areas of this difficult times many of us are in. I've found great encouragement and support through this site. Thank you also for the realistic perspective on time to heal. There are times I greatly struggle with that yet have come to realize the damage it would cause if we do not take this time now to heal. My husband and I are about 6 months out from D-day. He had an emotional affair with a mutual friend of ours and it's has been a roller coaster. The one thing I struggle with that you mentioned is the rational talk. My husband is remorseful over his actions and has said if he could go back and not make the choices he did, He would take it all back. Since then he's struggled greatly to talk at all about the affair. We are working on our marriage and talking about the different areas that were weak to even make the affair a possibility but he refuses to process through the affair it's self. He says it is too painful and talking through it is like living through that time all over again.It's painful for me as well, yet I believe that if we don't take the time to work through what happened then it will come back to haunt us in the future.

How Long Has Your Recovery Been?

I am the unfaithful partner and because I was not completely honest with my husband at the beginning of discovery and continued the trickle truth phenomenon, I feel we are still in the first six months of healing which is unfortunate since discovery was August of 2011, almost a year ago. Trickle truth is the worst thing to do outside of the affair to begin with. If I could change anything after discovery it would be that, I think we would be further in our healing journey had I been completely honest about the details of the affair from the beginning. If there is any other unfaithful spouse reading this that has not been completely honest, trust me it will come out and it will ruin any healing that has taken place so I urge you to be honest with your spouse now before they find out themselves. the honesty from you goes a long way.

time

We are at 14 months since D-Day and it's still very painful. We have good days and bad. We both want to improve our marriage but there are a lot of factors to consider. It's HARD work. No one can imagine the pain of recovery unless they're in it.

My affair was the worst thing I have ever done not only to my spouse, but also to myself!

Your articles have been VERY helpful and encouraging to me. Thank you!

unfaithful spouse still spending a lot of time w/ the other wome

I am greatly discouraged! my husband still spends a lot of time w/ the other women at work. He refuses to find other employment. he is very evasive in his communication... " cannot decided, etc etc... its been 5 months since my initial d'day.... then from dec. till mid-april, i thought 'it' was over and nothing had changed except they got more secretive .. i found another phone that he had purchased to keep their texting and conversations going strong... that day, I handed him a bag and told him to move out!

Recovery takes commitment

I am 4 years past discovery of the physical affair.  Recovery doesn't happen unless everything is discussed and addressed - of course, in as healthy a way as possible.  I was willing to do what it took to recover.  My husband wasn't. He started counseling but stopped when he wanted to - far short of recovery...   short changed again - cast out of my own marriage, again.

Rick, your articles have gotten so much better over the years. I wish this article had been around 4 years ago. It might have made sense to my husband. But with his narcissism I tend to doubt it.

 

 

How long has our recovery taken?

 We are in month 7 of living in the same house. Went to EMS at month 4. We are both in a recovery course that is private and our own personal journey. We also have been to marriage retreats and have a group with our church that we meet with. Our recovery seems text book from what your post say about the ups and downs. One thing I do know WE are all in. Period. Creating a new marriage because the old one didn't work, and that has been a God send to say the least!!! We are past being defensive with each other and have learned to be listeners and compassionate in our pain. There is no more justifying or blaming....that is just fruitless and immature. It is what it is. We are closer than ever and communicate more...we have a long way to go, I know this marriage is meant to be.

Jana 

Unfaithful's role in healing.

I don't think my unfaithful husband thought there was anything he could do to help me heal. He did everything wrong. Refused to answer my questions. Everything I learned I dug up by going through his computer. I still don't have many of the basic facts like when it started. He went to the marriage counselor six or seven times and then decided he no longer needed to go. He refused to acknowledge when I was feeling down. Instead he acted like everything was great. Leaving me feeling like he didnt care that I was hurting. He lied about almost everything he could and continued to get busted in those lies making trust almost impossible. He wouldn't read my letters that I wrote him when I got frustrated with our inability to communicate. They mad him sad he said! When I got upset he tried to manipulate me by saying we needed to get divorced because I was never going to get over it. He refused to read any books or articles about infidelity in order to find out how to help me. If there is an unfaithful spouse reading this please be kind to your partner and be a part of their healing. You made a mistake that has devastated your partner. The way you react now and the effort you put towards healing will make a HUGE difference in how long it takes for your betrayed spouse to heal.

Set backs

I agree with the article but one thing it didn't address is that sometimes recovery can have set backs. We are currently three years out from the initial discovery but my spouse (betraying spouse) continued to lie about additional affairs from the past. With God's help, I was able to uncover all of the lies. Unfortunately it took two full years to get the whole truth. Every time a lie was uncovered, the process would start over. I pray that a year from now we will hit the two year mark with truth. I think it might take more than two years to establish trust because the continual lying damaged it more than the initial discovery. The one thing I can say for sure, tell the truth, the whole truth, from the beginning. Truth might hurt but the damage has been done with the actions. Lying only continues to damage your betrayed spouse.

Ended marriage

Thank you so much for this article. Even though my marriage ended due to infidelity, the parallelism with a grave physical accident is a powerful metaphor for me. My husband suddenly ended the marriage when I questioned his drinking. It wasn't until the settlement phase when I saw his separate financial records included subscriptions to porn chat rooms, thousands of dollars spent in areas of Asian cities known as prostitution centers, thousands of dollars sent by Western Union to Easter European "mistresses", hundreds of dollars spent at women's clothing stores while he traveled for business and plane tickets for women to accompany him on his business trips. We were married for 15 years and the cheating started 3 months after we were married. I had no idea. I thought he was the most ethical person I knew. Of couse, he said it was my fault because I was emotionally distant which was a projection of his own fears of intimacy. He's a narcissist but I just thought he had a big ego. The truth has dribbled out. It's been just one week since I learned it started in month 3 of our marriage. Counseling and good friends keep me going but it feels like aong haul is before me before I am free of constant pain. Suggestion?

2 years right as planned then BAM!!

Rick,

 

I totally agree with your article. Two years is what it took.  My d-day was May 15th two years ago. We were at the July 2010 ARC EMS.  It changed our entire marriage. I joined a group and we did the calls, and went to see a marriage counselor. We were really working HARD on our marriage. We were talking, communicating and I had truly forgiven him/her.  May 1st of this year another AP called me to inform me she was also with my husband.  It has knocked me back to rock bottom. If you are an unfaitful spouse and have not come completely clean I beg you to tell them everything. Your secrets will come out.  I am greatly discouraged to start this TWO year cycle over again. Sometimes I just don't feel like I have it in me. Our marriage seemed so real. I am still working to push forward with this devestating new information.  My husband was afraid I would leave him if I knew what all really happened. You have to come clean and tell it all when you have the chance. It is not fair and I am resentful that I will lose another 2 years of my life with more healing and workbooks. If this would not have happened I would have never truly found God and for that I am thankful. We are going to do whatever it takes to work through this b/c this time we have support, prayer, and God on our side. I am really hoping it won't be two more years. I do know one thing...I hate MAY!!!!

 

To healing!!

B

Almost 3 years

Our recovery has taken me almost 3 years to move past.  I still to this day have triggers and get myself upset but they are not nearly as bad as they used to be.  My husband & I have been actively going to therapy as well and that seems to help the communication going strong.  My husband and I both had an affair so our situation is double crazy.  I still am angry with myself and it takes all I have to forgive us both.  I know this marriage was meant to be, as we would not be here to this minute.  I love your articles and look forward to them each Thursday.  It truly helps me realize that I am not out of the norm.  It's truly not just something you can "get over quickly"  Thanks for everything.

How long does it take

I totally needed to see this today. We are 5 months into the recovery process. We are not just dealing with the infidelities we are dealing with his addiction as well.

We have one week remaining on our EMS online course. We have made so much progress in our recovery. I don't feel like we could be where we are today without EMSO.

This week we had a huge challenge that could have set us back to ground zero. It was rough waters for a few hours but we worked it thru.

I know we can get thru this and make our marriage be better than ever. Rick, thank you so much for these newsletters. I am able to see others who are faced with similar challenges and it is helpful to know I am not the only one.

How long for recovery

It has been 4 1/2 years since I first found out about my husband's on again-off again 4 year affair with a co-worker, and just over 3 years since the last discovery that he had never ended it the first time I found out. We had been in counseling together and separately when the 2nd discovery day occurred, thank goodness, because the blow 3 years ago just about killed our marriage for good. My counselor talked me into giving myself a time limit to decide whether I would/could stay. That was 3 years ago. There is so much truth in the back and forth, one step up-2 steps back theory. In a way we continue moving along in this pattern, but the difference that time makes is that the "bad moments" are spaced so much farther apart--as in every few months opposed to every few days/weeks. Our marriage today is SO SO different than before, and I mean that in a GOOD way. It really was sheer torture going through all of the recovery process, I'm not gonna lie... This summer is our 29th anniversary and I can say with sincere honesty that I know of very few couples our age that are as happily married now as we are, and even fewer that have been married for as long. We had to go through the absolute worst of times in our marriage to get to the best of times and it took every bit of our courage,strength, and HARD work for us to get there. If the cheating spouse is willing to do everything in their power to change AND they follow through with those changes then you can make it. If you know without a doubt that you AND your spouse still love each other at all then you can find happiness in your marriage again. And it will probably be a stronger relationship than you could have ever hope for.

Still recovering for 5 yrs

Today is exactly 5 yrs to D-day and then revelation came for the next six months or more. I feel we had more going in the 2-3 yrs after than we do now. He not only had affair but is sex addict so brings on whole new issues I am sure but I don't feel we have had a break through in several years and tempers are sill very on edge.Story after story saying how couples are stronger etc but now this marriage only seems to be going backwards for lack of a better word. He "thinks" he is doing what he is suppose to but in reality he is closing up more and more. I feel we are just living in the same house because we have to take care of life that is going on around us. Thank you for your continued emails to me and this one made me cry when you said how our emotions are like your friend who was in the car crash but we are not recognized as the same. It touched me that some one gets it

10 months in

It's been ten months since my husband found out about me and my AP. Mind You we have made strides and have our good days and bad days. We both are making a effort to make it work. I love my husband and am willing to sacrifice whatever it is to make him feel comfortable. I know he still has unsafe feelings and insecurities about somethings, but I still will work to make him feel safe. As he.does the same.

minimum two yr. recovery

It has been almost a year and and a half since D-day(about 2 yrs. since the actual affair). My husband does not seem interested in connecting with me. We have been going to counsling for almost two yrs, The counsler has been suggesting an out of town weekend for the two of us. He is not interested. He uses every excuse in the book not to do this. Same as before the affair. He uses our kids, our friends, anything he can as buffers to not get close (be in a relationship with me). I don't know if he can get close to anyone. My own healing has come from within myself,  my seperate counseling and my family and friends. I have had no help from my husband. He has said long ago that its in the past (over) no more talk about it. We have never spoke about the financial affair he committed.  Boy, what that would even do if I brought it up. I am a very strong person. However, I am not unbreakable. Nothing is about me in our Marriage. I believe my husband is a Narcissist. The first counseler we went to brought that up. Then back tracked later in our sesssions. My husband was making sure that he wasn't the problem. This counsler doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. I don't understand why he is here and is affraid of being in a relationship with me. Well, thats what I see it as. I know I want to connect with him. I also love him. However, sometimes I wish I didn't care. Maybe then it would not hurt so much. I have hope. We just can't seem to get on the same page. My husband has no relationship with his mother, father, grand mothers and all 5 of his siblings. As I said, doesn't seem to want one with me. I keep praying for a miracle. Any of your out their who have betrayed your spouse. Please listen and help your betrayed spouse. It's what your spouse needs from you. 

It's been 8 months since d

It's been 8 months since d day. I struggle. I feel abnormal for flipping out emotionally on the drop of a dime. The physical affair was with my best friend, who was and still is a neighbor. I'm not sure how I've made it this far. Some days seem too much. Others I find peace and bliss. But YoYo is an understatement. He's remorseful. And it was just sex for him, only meeting oncea month. Being neighbors they could've met daily. She begged. He denied. I know all the details and regret knowing. It's made enjoying intimate experiences impossible. He's a better man and father now. This made him a man. And me a woman. We grew up and owned what we both did to get here. We will be better but I don't know when. It seems so far away before normalcy seems attainable. Feel so broken and jaded. I've lost my inner zen and zest for life. I hold out hope.......

It has been 2 years

It has been 2 years since I found out my partner was cheating on me. It devastated me. I begged to home and work things out, he did for about 4mnths then went back to her for 2 wks then came home saying he was sorry and wanted us to work. This has been the cycle for 2yrs, this is the longest he has been gone 6mnths but he still comes here to make love to me, and I let him because I love him so completely and I want us to work out. My neighbours have told me that if I take him back we will be outcasts basically. But no one understands how I feel and I know that he truly does love me he is just lost and does not know how to come back this time. I know he is ashamed of what he has done. I have tried to be strong about this but it has worn me down physically and mentally. I am seeing a counselor who has asked me "how long are you willing to wait?" and I don't know. I am holding out hope that he will realize where his home is.

Time is only essential when there is willingness and honesty

It is 3 years since discovery and that is really the only marker.  I feel like a yo-yo on a roller coaster at times.  I am so glad that you wrote this article because it validates what I feel and have been feeling...I cannot be rushed or told to heal.  I cannot heal and stay in the marriage if I am the only one doing work on recovery.  My unfaithful husband could not be there for me after discovery as he was in the midst of prescription pill addiction unknown to me.  Another lie that I had to deal with only 5 months after discovery.  He blamed the pills for the affair. They distorted his thinking.  They were the reason he started a relationship, emailed women, was into porn and search sites.  I had to wait for him to get not only physically clean and sober but mentally and spiritually.  I thought I had to only be deceived again that he was working his program.  He was not using but he was not working on his recovery.  The anger I received from questions was heartbreaking.  The push to trust again and heal now was even worse.  I showed me that there was not remorse for the actions but remorse that he got caught and did not want to deal with it.  I felt like I could not trust his answers to any question, even with our first therapist.  He wanted to shove it under the rug and just jump on the lump in the middle of the room to make it go away.  It doesn't work that way unfortunately.  

I had gone to Harboring for Hope and Alanon.  He finally started to do the right things in his program and started to grow and change into the man I know is in there.  This past Fall I felt like we could get to the point where I could have some closure on this and walk into that room to turn out the light and close the door.  BUT once again he lies and keeps secrets about prescription pills and I HAVE to find out again.  Lies upon lies upon lies follow the truths that I lay in front of him.  I told him to go to rehab or we have to seperate.  He is off to rehab today. 

I forgave him long ago but I cannot stay in a marriage that there is no trust and no disclosure after all this time.  I want to make it work but after all of this how is it possible?  I just want to have disclosure and move on...is that reasonable?

recovery discovery of wife's sex addiction

wow sex addiction is a tough one to get by. I was in hospital after auto accident and wife had liaisons with four different men. I believe all the truth is out and recovery has begun. 1/200 of a second to trigger me into insanity re her. 9 mo since last discovery. How do I trust. I hear of so many women's story's about husbands infidelity but sex addiction goes both ways. I have been faithful all my life. This hurts. Her history is rape and years of incest by step father. I understand and have empathy for her. But sixty men is a lot to get around. I am not loud or violent maybe passive aggressive. Anger comes love goes. I truly adore her. I want her in my life. I am working my own recovery and she sees a counselor and goes to saa. We have had not couple counseling as of yet we have both been working our own issues. I understand her my background is similar. It's hard for a guy to speak of his being raped and seeing rape and being a victim of incest. She chose sex to kill her pain and I chose my drugs. I'm clean a year working hard to maintain sobriety. We trigger oneanother what a mess. But god is good and faith cans beat the odds. I am committed to me and my life in recovery and I am committed to her.

so long ago

hi

I am the betrayer, I had an on going affair (years) and thenI finally got it that I DID  know I loved my husband and needed to stop the selfishness.

He suspected it and when it was discovered the ANGER was there as it should be and is normal, but it halted any talking or trying to reach out for help. we both shut down.

His alcohol intake became much increased and we never did get appropriaate help for the wife that made a mistake!

I said I WAS WRONG, I wronged him broke the marriage vows.

 I knew the alcohol would not and did not help or fix or cover up the damages., now there was two huge problems

NOW too many years later he is so sick from alcohol he can not work , it has affected his heart and he still can not. has not forgiven me for the affair. 

I am knowing this is so complex he is needing help emotionaly, spiritually and physically and the affair devastation is the under lying root never dealt with by him. 

 I see I have to move on, he cant.  I wanted the marriage to work  for us to get help and the end to be reconciliaton,

we separated to try to see if that would work I got help  he drank more in loneliness. 

if only we had got this affair recovery web site earlier.

I feel he could not get over the shame, it killed him he hid it inside and the alcohol took over from the affair.

pray for his PEACE and healing, I can be ok

chris 

 

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