Affair Recovery Steps: 5 Ways to Overcome Your Past and Write a New Story

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The other day, I had someone reach out to me and say, "Sam, what are we to do now? How do we not, I hate to say it, end up like you?" I said, "Well, there are some things you can and should do in recovery." Today, I want to share some of those affair recovery steps with you, and I want to help you right where you're at.

I know this journey can be daunting and disorienting for some of you. I get that; I absolutely understand that. But there is hope for your own situation, there is hope for your own life, and there is hope for your own story. Your story is your story. What happened with my marriage does not have to be how your story ends. Please understand, my friends, that you are responsible for your own story.

I truly believe that if you, whether you're the wayward spouse or the betrayed spouse, implement the things I'm sharing today, if you commit to these affair recovery steps, you will have every opportunity at healing and restoration. There are no guarantees, but these principles can be life-changing for you in your repair work.

1. Do Your Work

No one can do our work for us; our work has to be done by us. Regarding my old childhood trauma, I've had therapists say to me, "Listen, I'm sorry you have to deal with this, but I can only take you as far as you're willing to go." No one can do this for us. We can have loved ones beg us, cajole us, to try to get us to do our work. If we're not willing to do the work, we miss out on the opportunity for our own personal healing.

The success of our relationships is absolutely dependent on our own personal work. Our relationships are dependent on both of us, the wayward spouse and the betrayed spouse, doing our own work. If only one person does the work, eventually the system and the process breaks down.

2. Do Deal With the Past

You have to be willing to open up your past. If you're not willing to deal with your past, if you're not willing to address your trauma, you miss out on healing and get stuck at a certain level.

You can go hard and do a lot of work but, eventually, you're going to get to a point where you're probably going to have to address some pretty dark stuff. If you don't address it, you're going to remain stuck; there will be a ceiling to how far you can go, how far your marriage can go, when you haven't dealt with the past.

As far as affair recovery steps go, opening up our past is one of the hardest ones, but it's absolutely worth it. I was in a session with my own therapist, and he was taking me through some pretty dark memories.

I hit a point where he said to me, in response to a story I was telling, with incredible kindness, "You know, Sam, we're going to have to go back into that room." I just looked at him, got really emotional, and said, "I know." It terrified me, it was agonizing, and it scared the hell out of me. If I'm being honest, it shook me.

We went back into that room, and the result was more healing rather than more trauma. By dealing with this aspect of my past, I experienced more peace and more harmony. I know the past is scary, but it's not bigger than us, and it doesn't have to control us for the rest of our lives.

3. Don't Have ‘Untouchables'

There can be no "untouchables" when recovering from infidelity pain. If you have a memory or situation that's untouchable, that you refuse to revisit or talk about, that's probably the very thing that you need to address. Your healing is probably dependent on addressing that very thing you're running from.

If you can find an infidelity expert to confide in and process this with, I assure you that you can begin to move past this situation. As far as affair recovery steps go, being able to address "untouchables" is huge, and it may be one of the biggest breakthroughs in your life. But as long as you let that "untouchable" rule your recovery, rule your repair work, you will continue to hit that ceiling. You can only go so far before you realize, "I've got to address this trauma if I want to heal."

I believe it was Brené Brown who said blame is a way of handling a situation without having to change. As long as we dole out blame, we give ourselves a "get out of jail free" card. In our minds, blaming frees us from having to change. Whether you're the wayward spouse or the betrayed spouse, I'm sure you've been hurt or devastated in one way or another, but assigning blame removes your responsibility to change.

As long as we continue to blame and refuse to change, we keep ourselves stuck and miss out on opportunities to experience:

  • Healing.
  • Joy.
  • Fulfilment.
  • Confidence.
  • Security.

4. Don't Live in Denial

We can deny the impact of certain events all we want, but the proof is in how we live our lives. For me, it wasn't until I no longer had "untouchables" when I allowed trusted individuals into my healing and realized I was living in denial. I was denying the pain and the hurt that the past had on my life. I was denying that I saw the world a certain way. Denial steals from us.

If there's one thing I can tell you about denial, it's that it perpetually steals our:

  • Healing.
  • Peace of mind.
  • Discernment.
  • Clarity.

Denial robs us of our ability to see things as they really are. And when we can't see ourselves or our situations clearly, it makes it that much harder to get the help we need.

5. Do Embrace Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful affair recovery steps for our own healing. Desmond Tutu, co-author of "The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World,"* says, "To forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest." We don't forgive for them, we forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness is what sets us free; it's what changes us. Forgiveness releases us from the people or situations that have betrayed us. We can find freedom through forgiveness.

You may feel like, "No, I'll never forgive them for what they did." By saying that, what you're doing is continually tethering yourself to that tragedy, to that terrible memory, when one of the biggest ways to set yourself free is to practice forgiveness. When you're able to forgive, you can write a new story, you can write a new ending, and you can set yourself free.

Forgiveness allows you to say, "This is awful, at its core, but it is not going to control me anymore; it is not going to define me anymore." You can be your own liberator; you can decide to forgive and set yourself free from the past.

One of the biggest affair recovery steps and ways we reclaim our lives is through forgiveness. We can reclaim our freedom and our future through forgiveness. We have to live with ourselves for the rest of our lives, so we might as well set ourselves free so we can enjoy ourselves and be proud of who we are. Yes, we're going to have to own some stuff, but that doesn't take away from our ability to forgive ourselves, which is absolutely essential, and those who've hurt us. Forgiveness is a chance at true liberation.

Again, as far as affair recovery steps go, forgiveness is one that's hard as hell. Forgiveness, however, is a true game-changer; it can change your life, your relationship and your future. We have to remember that forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. I don't know where you're at today or what you're struggling with, but I hope you can find forgiveness, and I hope you can choose to keep going. This is about your journey and your refusal to quit on you. I hope and pray that I've helped you today.

Register for EMS Online for Couples! Space is limited.

Our Emergency Marital Seminar Online, better known as EMSO, isn't a one-size-fits-all program for couples. Over decades of experience exclusively in the field of infidelity, our methodology has been honed to better serve couples as they address the betrayal, reconnect as partners and restore their lives.

"To be honest, I don't think my wife and I would be together if not for this course. Affair Recovery provided hope where I thought there was none. Along the way, I gained understanding as to why my wife entered into her affair. I am better off as a person and husband for taking the course." — September 2020 participant.

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