Relapse: Wandering Away Again

In my previous post we talked about wandering away, over time, little by little. No one just wakes up and has an affair and ruins their life and their spouse’s life. There are reasons an affair happens, and then there are more reasons a spouse stays in an affair and refuses to quit.  Left to ourselves, void of accountability and continual connection with our spouse, I truly believe we are given to wandering, looking elsewhere for affirmation and boosts to our self-esteem. Without a plan, we’ll eventually fall prey to some sort of call for our attention from somewhere, or as many of us here know, someone.  

As I alluded to, we have to be calculated in our recovery, even after an affair, if we want to not wander again.

I can hear many of you already saying “wander again….you mean I have to be concerned they may do this again?”

Yes.

You do.

You must.

But not forever, if you get the right help.

In no uncertain terms, relapse is possible. Some therapists say relapse is inevitable, but none of the staff at Affair Recovery believe that and I certainly do not as well. However, and this is a big however, I do believe, as does each professional staff member at Affair Recovery, if the unfaithful does not receive help from an expert who has been through infidelity before themselves, the likelihood the unfaithful will do it again rises to over a 90% certainty in the next three to seven years (as quoted by Rick Reynolds). I’m sorry it’s a punch in the gut, but the fact is, they must get the help they need if they are going to not act out again.  Here are some specifics on how to not relapse once you’re in recovery.

  1. Get the best help possible. Do not use a “one size fits all” approach, utilizing a counselor who has never been through infidelity, but is simply a ‘professional.’ Read as many articles as you can on the site. Go to an EMS Weekend, or take the EMS Online course. If you’re an unfaithful take the Hope for Healing course. You’ll need specific help to be able to heal and prevent relapse. Once you’re in recovery, attend other resources to strengthen what you’ve healed. It no longer has to be infidelity based, but more marriage based and continual support for all aspects of marriage. The mediums are endless of which you can find this help.
  2. Don’t believe that just because you are incredibly sorry NOW that it’s enough to prevent relapse in the future. The fact is, the unfaithful’s own will power and commitment wasn’t enough to prevent the affair in the first place. Now, they’ve had an affair of some sorts already, and they still want us to believe their own efforts or will power is enough to stop them from acting out again? No. It’s just not enough. More times than not, they will act out again.
  3. Life gets in the way friends. Right now you or your spouse may be as broken and as sorry as can be. However, in the next three to four years, regular life will return. Life will get in the way. Bills, work, raising kids, life pressures, health issues, you name it. If the healing and lifestyle change has not happened, all it takes is the right circumstances to create another opportunity for relapse.
  4. The quality of care you receive and the dedication you show to its implementation and life change because of it, will be the determining factors of your recovery and relapse prevention. Meaning, if the unfaithful takes the stance of “well, we did therapy and we did what we were supposed to do, it will never happen again: we’re good, let’s move on,” and doesn’t have a change to the way they live, trouble is on the horizon.
  5. Finally, if recovery has truly taken shape, the unfaithful will know they must avoid high risk situations. They will understand how to identify potentially vulnerable situations and they’ll know what to stay away from, and they will know how to communicate both openness and vulnerability to you. They will live a lifestyle of remorse and humility not just a mentality of ‘yah, in two thousand and whatever, it was a rough year. I was a jerk. But we’re healed and we’re all good. I don’t want to talk about it ever again.’

Just to clarify, a relapse doesn’t always mean the unfaithful spouse is back at the strip clubs (or whatever their struggle has been), it simply means you’re falling back into old patterns. Becoming emotionally distant, not bringing temptations to light, flirting with strangers just for fun- these are all examples of the little relapses that lead to bigger relapses. Be on watch for these behaviors, as I’m sure this tiptoe towards the line is what originally caused you to cross it. Don’t flirt with infidelity, and stick to your new life and new behaviors you learn during recovery, and you’ll be able to enjoy a more fulfilling and more intimate marriage than you ever dreamed possible. 

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