How Long Does Infidelity Recovery Really Take? And How Much Work Is Enough?

Not too long ago, someone pulled me aside and asked, “Seriously, how long is it going to be like this?” At our EMS Weekends in person, the conversations inevitably take a turn to these sorts of questions. Often, participants want to know:

  • “How long are we going to have to do this work?”
  • “Is it always going to be this hard?”
  • “When does it get better?”

I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to say it: We didn’t get here overnight, and we got to this place because of one person’s choice or, maybe, both people’s choices in the relationship. It took time to get to this place that we’re at. There was a slow fade that probably happened, or maybe it was overnight with a one-night stand. But at the end of the day, choices were made over a timeline. We have this illusion that there is a quick fix, that relationships can just be remedied overnight.

All you have to do is be in recovery for about 48 hours to realize there is no quick fix for this.

Relationship Work Needs To Be a Priority

In infidelity recovery and even in relationships, there is such a demand for our attention. Kids, sports, doctor appointments, finances, schedules, work — the list goes on and on. The relationship is under attack with so many things competing for the spotlight; when you throw infidelity into the mix, the struggle becomes:

  • "How do you prioritize us?"
  • "How do you prioritize our repair work?"

With all these other things going on, trying to do repair work can become overwhelming. It creates a delirium, if you will, that makes you wonder, "How will I do this?" The answer is almost too good to be true and too simple to admit but, the fact is, if we don’t prioritize the relationship and its repair, it’s no wonder why there are so many relapses. Many betrayed spouses will even have their own affairs if the relationship isn’t prioritized, if the work isn’t prioritized.

If we try to pack everything in a nice little box with all our trauma, hurt and pain, and then store it away and keep moving forward, it’s no wonder why we wake up one day wondering:

It’s because we didn’t prioritize the healing that needed to be there for both spouses. One of the biggest strengths of our EMS Weekend is that it’s designed for both spouses. If we just help one spouse and don’t help the other, that’s a recipe for disaster. The wonderful thing about our approach is that we deal with three recoveries:

  • Your recovery.
  • Your mate’s recovery.
  • Your relationship’s potential recovery.

If you just focus on one spouse and leave the other hanging, there’s this inequality of healing that creates vulnerability for disaster moving forward.

Relationship Work Needs To Be Continual

In our society, continuing education is prioritized. Doctors, lawyers and mental health professionals are all required, in some way, to do continuing education. But in repair work, we think we’re good if we read a couple of books or go on a couple of dates. That’s our version of continuing education and, I have to tell you, it’s poorly insufficient. It’s no wonder why so many of us struggle in our own recoveries because we’re avoidant, and we push our issues to the side or check a couple boxes and think it’s enough.

When you do the minimum in recovery, you’ll get far enough along and realize:

  • We’re not doing great.
  • We’re not in good shape.
  • We’re struggling.
  • We’ve never developed long-term momentum.

Then, you have to look backward and take a hard look at your repair work. Where was the continuing education? If your recovery work, either as an individual or as a couple, is just a mere to-do list on a sticky note, it’s not going to be sufficient enough.

We, especially as unfaithful, can be so avoidant and minimize our pain and our choices in an attempt to reduce our shame; we call them shame-reduction tactics. We don’t want to go to a group, we don’t want to get help, we don’t want to talk to people — we just want to avoid it all. We want to reduce our shame, so we bury our feelings and hide.

While we’re trying to protect ourselves, we can cause more damage to our betrayed spouse or mate. We can continue to increase their pain, their hurt, their struggle and leave them high and dry — all because we’re being selfish. We’re trying to reduce our shame, unaware that we’re just digging the hole that we’re trying to get out of deeper and deeper.

Relationship Work Needs To Be Sufficient

As I wrap up today, I wanted to circle back to some of the questions and comments I commonly get about infidelity recovery.

  1. "Is recovery forever?" Our hope is that recovery from infidelity, for your relationship, isn’t forever. But if you want your relationship to last forever and be repaired, you’re probably going to have to keep doing work, you’re going to have to read some books and maybe even see a therapist. Infidelity recovery, hopefully, doesn’t have to be forever, but your relationship’s repair, recovery and prioritization should absolutely be forever.
  2. "How long is it going to take?" It takes what it takes. I don’t know how long it will take, but consider how hard you are working. Are you using a to-do list, or are you making a serious commitment to prioritizing work on your relationship? Do you want a fragile relationship or a fantastic relationship? The choice is in the work that you do. If you don’t prioritize recovery and healing, is it any wonder that you find yourself struggling?
  3. "It shouldn’t be this hard." Who said it shouldn’t be this hard, when this is one of the most important relationships in your life? Why wouldn’t this be hard? Why wouldn’t it be complicated? Why wouldn’t it have several bumps in the road, especially after infidelity? But just because there’s conflict, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. There’s going to be conflict; you’re trying to repair damage from a disaster. It’s going to be hard, but it is absolutely worth it.
  4. "Is it going to hurt like this forever?" I don’t believe so. I think that doing your own repair work is going to absolutely help you find healing. I think that you might always wence at some of your or their choices — and that’s OK. For my divorced friends: Being divorced robs you of the opportunity at reconciliation, but it does not rob you of the opportunity to heal yourself. It doesn’t rob you of the opportunity to learn to love yourself again, reprioritize yourself and understand what may have led to the choices you made.

It is OK to love ourselves. It is OK to prioritize ourselves. It is OK to take good care of us. The secret to relationships that thrive over the years is feeding the relationship. How are you feeding your relationship right now? Are you continuing your education and prioritizing the relationship? Or are you using a to-do list approach?

Register Now for 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. EMS Weekend is a safe space for you and your mate to begin moving toward acceptance, transformation and healing after infidelity. During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful or blame the betrayed; what we will do is pair you with expert infidelity counselors, comprehensive healing resources and a small group of other couples to heal with and learn from.

"I feel that this journey provided us with many tools to help in our recovery process, and it equipped us with weapons to fight for our marriage going forward. I’m leaving EMS Weekend feeling encouraged and honored to have such a wonderful wife that continues to fight for us and for me. God has blessed me and us and will be our foundation to build our new marriage upon. Thank you." — Virtual EMS Weekend Participant | February 2021

Whether you attend EMS Weekend in person or virtually, we're here to help guide you during this season of healing. Note: Our remote offering comes at a $1,000 discount, as it doesn't include food and lodging. So what are you waiting for? Join Rick for EMS Weekend to begin building toward a better, brighter life after infidelity.

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Thank you

As always, this was exactly what I needed to hear today. I keep looking for hope, and it shows up. Thank you