Whitney Goodman LMFT

Healing Together

How to Start Healing From Infidelity

Most relationships recover after an affair.

Posted Mar 02, 2020

After discovering infidelity in your relationship, you may be unsure if you should stay or go. Discovering infidelity in your relationship can feel like a bomb just went off. It's unsettling and disorienting.

If you want to heal your relationship, you can ask yourself these three questions to get clarity:

  1. Would you want to be committed to your partner if you trusted them again?
  2. Have you let go of your anger and resentment about your partner’s betrayal and are you able to move forward?
  3. Can you forgive your partner for their actions?

If you decide you would like to stay in the relationship, The Gottman Method uses a three-step process to help couples heal from an affair.

Phase 1: Atone

The cheater must show remorse. Rebuilding a relationship after infidelity is not possible without this. The person who was unfaithful attempts to understand their partner’s feelings and to accept responsibility without getting defensive. They have to step up and say: “I broke my commitment to this marriage. I take full responsibility for my actions.” These types of comments are not helpful: “If you didn’t do ____, I wouldn’t have cheated."

Couples will then start working to gain insight into what went wrong. Both members must become more aware of the reasons that led to the affair. Without blame. The person who is unfaithful must end the affair and all contact if they hope to move forward. There must be a deliberate commitment to the relationship. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Phase 2: Attune

Attunement happens when a couple starts to forgive and is ready to rebuild their relationship without blaming. During this phase, you’ll come up with a plan to handle conflict. The unfaithful partner must also make the relationship a priority. The couple will go public as a united front.

Phase 3: Attach

The last phase involves the couple reconnecting physically. They must learn to trust each other. This can be particularly hard for the “victim” partner. Couples will come up with a plan to reignite emotional and physical intimacy.

Affair recovery is complicated, but totally possible with the help of a qualified therapist. As you move through these stages you may experience setbacks; the experience isn't always linear. Allow yourself to be honest about your experience and where you're at in the process. With some patience and hard work, your relationship can recover and will become strong again.