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

What It Takes To Survive an Affair: 3 Must Have Components

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Forty years ago–before discovery–death seemed to be the only option.

If there's any one thing that reveals how irrational my thinking had become, it would be the above thought. I could only see one alternative: I had to die, my wife Stephanie needed to die, or my affair partner needed to die. It seemed there was no way to recover from an affair. I wasn't homicidal or suicidal, but I honestly could not see another solution, short of one of us dying. Somehow, like many caught in the crosshairs of infidelity and disclosure, I had restricted my options so much that there were no other alternatives.

Decades later, and after having worked with over 3500 couples dealing with infidelity, I realize my insanity wasn't unique. Infidelity in marriage is unfortunately more common than we like to admit. We humans have a natural inclination toward constricted thinking. I've heard statements such as: "I either get divorced or live a miserable life," or, "I either look at porn or have an affair."

If you think about it, there are other alternatives after infidelity, but for some reason we can't see them.

Finding a New Perspective

"No problem can be solved by the same consciousness by which it was created."
- Einstein

If we ever hope to escape the quandary created by even our "best-of" thinking, we need to discover new ways of seeing. However, the isolation created by our shame inhibits opportunities to find the help we need. Once again, cognitive distortions keep us trapped: "We have to find a therapist that can meet us on Thursday at 9:00 pm, or we can't do anything."

Gaining a new and healthy perspective requires the right external input, an openness to hear the experiences of others who are also in crisis, and a willingness to share your own. It requires faith in the advice given by experts who have personally experienced the very same trauma.

Until you can see that it has worked for others, why try? You'll think, "How could I possibly survive an affair?"

It requires courage. Abandoning our old way of thinking and seeing–for something new, especially when you're in the middle of one of life's biggest crises–isn't easy.

A Team Approach Matters

My experience has shown that a "team approach" to recovering from infidelity not only expedites the process, but it also helps solidify long-term change. I understand this approach may seem intimidating and completely uncomfortable to many of you:


"What? Share my story with other couples? Are you crazy—how humiliating!"

"You want me to be in a room with other people, and actually tell them about my infidelity? ...No Way."

"I can barely talk about it with my spouse or professional. How do you expect me to share it with total strangers, let alone delve deeper into my wife or husband's affair?"

A spouse calmly said to me one day, "You're kidding, right? Seriously?"

Having others who were "like us," validated our experience and gave us hope.

Overcoming infidelity in marriage requires a supportive community. Without the encouragement and empathy provided by others who have already walked this journey, how could you sustain the journey?

It requires accountability; it requires safe people to talk to. When you grow weary on the road to change, who is going to care enough to check and see how you're doing?

Who wants to share their deepest fear and shame if they don't feel they'll be accepted or protected? It requires others who truly understand.

Finally, why would you share if you feel the other parties can't understand or aren't experiencing what you're going through?

Learn more about the power of small groups: https://www.affairrecovery.com/how-to-recover

Proper Timelines

If you don't know where you should be in the course of events and recovery—how do you know if you're off-pace, or right where you should be? How do you know if what you're both feeling is to be expected?

A plan for recovery is necessary. Recovery from infidelity is not something you can easily fumble your way through. Recovery is hard even with a new perspective, a community of support, and a good plan and timeline in place – but please, don't limit other alternatives.

In AA they say, "It takes what it takes," and until you're "sick and tired of being sick and tired," you're not ready to change. On the other hand, bottom is that place where you say "enough," and you give up your "all-or-nothing thinking," and become willing to try something new. I've said it many times—the goal has to be progress, not perfection.

You don't have to go into it alone. We have many groups with a team of support to help you on your recovery journey. If you'd like to have a conversation with someone who has been through this before and can help guide you through the recovery process, reach out. You can email us at info@hope-now.com and a staff member will help with your recovery plan.

I'd like to encourage you to consider the possibility that perhaps this is the community and the lifeline you have been desperately looking for. Register for our Hope for Healing class if you're the unfaithful spouse and take a journey with other men/women in your same situation.

Hope for Healing Registration opens today. Space is limited.
View Hope for Healing Registration Status

Hope Rising 2019

If you're the betrayed spouse, I want to invite you to participate in our Hope Rising conference. We have an annual one-day conference in Austin, TX where speakers will speak into your specific situation of infidelity and help guide you through the recovery process. It's not as hopeless as you think.

In person tickets are limited, so don't delay!

Purchase In-Person Tickets Here! (Limited)
Purchase Live-Stream Tickets Here!

You can't do it alone. And you don't have to.

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Stuck I feel

This video was great...u feel I can't do anymore Wayne...you were such a great help on father's day weekend this year at emsw...we have made great strides and see closer than ever...she is still not able to see the good in me most of the time and granted it's only been a year since first disclosure and Feb will be the last...our therapist has said we are doing well and there will be tough times. I just wish I knew what else to do really, I hate seeing and feeling the pain in her...any suggestions.. Bryan unfaithful and Erin betrayed

Hope Rising

I just wish the Hope Rising was in more areas. It’s a days drive to Austin and a days drive back for a one day conference is kind of difficult for some of us. Sounds like a wonderful experience though. I’m 2 1/2 years from discovery with some extra findings since then and I’m still having a very difficult time.

do the live stream my friend....it's better than nothing.

here is the live stream link:  https://www.affairrecovery.com/hope-rising


We are 1 1/2 years in and doing not too badly. I’d also like to go but not even in the USA! I don’t know or how to fully enjoy my marriage now although I’m trying. My husband still works with ap in a large company. They only communicate when necessary.

Question on Video (3 Components)

What does “Either Or” thinking mean? The video mentions that the unfaithful spouse must not get stuck in the Either, Or thinking. I don’t understand what that means?
There is also a mention of helping your spouse with recovery to find a “deeper meaning” of why they had an affair. How do we achieve this?
Thank you!

What type of affair was it?

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-D, Texas