Heal from infidelity

Practical, Science-Based Steps to Heal from an Affair

Working through an affair is tough. It takes tremendous energy and vulnerability on both sides.

Working through an affair is tough. It takes tremendous energy and vulnerability on both sides.

Working through an affair is tough. It takes tremendous energy and vulnerability on both sides.

Many years ago, in the Clinton era, I was asked to do an interview on whether Hillary and Bill would make it through Bill’s affair. Responding psychologically rather than politically, my answer was to say, “If couples didn’t make it through affairs, the divorce rate would be even higher than it is now.”

Working through an affair is tough. It takes tremendous energy and vulnerability on both sides. Drs. John and Julie Gottman have developed the Trust Revival Method, with three defined stages of treatment: Atonement, Attunement, and Attachment. The effectiveness of this model is being studied in a randomized clinical trial.

I’ve watched hundreds of couples try this method, and I’ve learned a few practical things about effective treatment along the way. To provide clarity, let’s use names: Jennifer and Sam are married, and Jennifer had an affair with Anthony.

Seek couples therapy, not just individual counseling

Trust is an obvious issue and is vital to regain. But if both partners are committed to reconciling the marriage, or at least to try, then seeing a couples therapist together is most helpful. Individual therapy doesn’t help regain this trust and may only make healing more complicated. Enough secrets have been kept. Even if Jennifer is talking about the love she had for Anthony, it’s important that Sam regain his role as confidante, and it’s even more important that Jennifer be completely transparent about what happened.

Often, people who engage in an affair will balk at the idea of sharing with their spouse their struggles with letting go of their lover. The most important point? To move ahead, Sam needs to actively hear and believe that Jennifer is choosing him and their marriage.

Realize that the “truth” rarely comes out all at once

This is a tough one. Those who have had an affair, whether they’ve been caught or whether they’ve actually come forward, rarely tell the whole story initially. In this case, Jennifer will either feel guilty and extremely protective of Sam, not wanting to hurt him anymore, or she’ll be protective of Anthony. Or both.

The latter reason may likely infuriate Sam. But it’s part of the process. The “story” usually emerges slowly, even though Sam might want the truth and all of the truth right away. Jennifer may not be able to do that. Remember, she’s now committed to the marriage and more than likely fears Sam’s reaction. That “too much too soon” may blow up in her face.

When this occurs, it’s very easy for the hurt partner to view this as more intentional deceit, which many betrayed people say is just as difficult to work through than any sexual or emotional indiscretion. The therapist needs to guide the couple carefully through the betrayer’s tangle of self-protection or protection of a lover and the defensiveness and shame that comes with it, as well as the betrayed’s desperately wanting and deserving “the absolute truth” and the sadness, rage, and fear that accompanies it.

All of this lies in the Atonement phase, which is a working through of anger, fear, guilt, and shame. It’s a tightrope that has to be walked very carefully, and with as much openness as possible.

The problems in the relationship did not cause the affair but are important to change

Jennifer is totally responsible for going outside the marriage to get her needs met. That is clear. But affairs happen in contexts. And that context is Jennifer and Sam’s marriage.

Sam and Jennifer will want to create a fresh, enlivened relationship where both can recommit and leave behind the relationship that was not working. The task is to learn new skills and new ways of communicating so both can feel better about their marriage. They’re not going back. They’re going forward. They’re starting marriage #2.

If Jennifer is adamant about blaming the marriage and only the marriage, that’s not a good sign. In Gottman terms, she’d be stuck in the barn with the Four Horseman Of The Apocalypse and not moving forward. The same would be evident if Sam insisted that the marriage had been great with absolutely nothing amiss or broken. Both would be locked in defensiveness and contempt.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman teach that talking about the context of the marriage doesn’t belong in the “Atonement” process, but belongs in the second “Attunement” phase of treatment. This may be easier said than done. I’ve found that as long as distinctions are being made, and very clear boundaries are formed—that nothing happened in the marriage to cause the betrayer to betray—that both can be discussed. However, it’s far better to keep them clear from one another, if possible.

Give structure to communication about the affair

Dr. Shirley Glass points out in her book “Not Just Friends” that the betrayed partner often fits criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, with their emotional well-being heavily threatened and a sense of safety having disappeared from the marriage. It’s important to structure the sessions to help the betrayed work through that trauma, as slowly as is needed, and not amplify symptoms like hypervigilance, nightmares, or flashbacks.

And, in all seriousness, this process can’t happen quickly enough for the betrayer nor slow enough for the betrayed.

Jennifer’s job is evident. She must cut ties with Anthony. She needs to provide whatever information Sam needs to help him heal. Most people seem to want a lot of information, often coming in with pages of questions.

If Jennifer is reticent to proactively offer openness to what used to be more private choices (cell phone or social media account passwords, for example), that may be a signal that the hurtful impact of the affair is still not understood, or the betrayer has not fully taken responsibility. At that point, work directed at the betrayer, to try to understand their balking (whether it’s an issue still with the affair, or is it some other individual trait, such as a struggle with control) is vital for the therapeutic process to go forward.

It is best if the couple can wait and only talk about the affair in the therapist’s office. But some people just can’t wait, so we would suggest that they limit, perhaps even by strictly scheduling, the time that they talk about it. Each would need to agree that they will refrain from using the four horsemen during those conversations. This structure helps prevent emotional explosions or from the affair gaining any more power than it already has, while also honoring the need for healing.

The affair will be on everyone’s mind. But it’s got to be fenced in to some degree. You are looking for new information to use for recommitment.

People in Sam’s role can sometimes get lost in the details, wanting to know everything about the affair. For example, asking if Jennifer loved Anthony, or why she was attracted to him, may be important details for Sam to know. But Drs. John and Julie Gottman would suggest that he, and others like him, need to be careful, again recalling Dr. Glass’ admonitions concerning PTSD. He runs the risk of becoming re-traumatized by the revelation of intimate details, such as where the affair happened and what the sex was like. He can become obsessive, requesting too much information. Yet if not enough is asked and absorbed, it can lead to later regret.

What’s the goal here? Sam finally says to himself, “You know, I just don’t need to ask that question. I’ve asked all I need to ask. I’m okay with not knowing.”

Realize the need for trust travels in both directions

The last thing that Jennifer wants to realize is that 10 or 15 years down the road, Sam says, “You know, I never really forgave you for that affair. I want a divorce.” Or he might never say those words, and simply act it out passive-aggressively.

That is very sad. Couples have come to me years after doing therapy for an affair. There has been no true stage of reconciliation that Drs. John and Julie Gottman would call “Attachment.” The unforgiving spouse remains bitter, but may try to hide it. The unforgiven feels a loneliness that he or she doesn’t understand; it may be that everything “looks” fine, but underneath there is still distrust, blame, or anger.

Sam should take on the responsibility of giving reassurance to Jennifer that trust is building. He can say things sincerely, such as, “I wanted to text and ask you to take a picture of where you were at 10:00 last night when you were out of town, but I realized I didn’t need to. I’m past that.”

Jennifer can begin to feel hopeless if not given this information, or that her efforts are not being recognized. Both need to deeply understand and believe that the other is on board for a new commitment, that they both have chosen to remain, and are working on a new relationship dynamic that outshines their previous connection.

The process of healing from an affair takes time. Like all grief, it comes in waves. One day, it will seem like it happened a long time ago. The next? Either Jennifer or Sam can get triggered, and emotions will feel once again very raw.

Learning new skills of communicating about conflict, rebuilding trust, rekindling physical and sexual connection, giving time and attention to how the problems have affected the children or other family members. All of that can happen with time and energy.

There are many variations to the above. Such are the complications of being human.

The good news? It can be accomplished, and the commitment can be richer than ever. Not because of the affair, but because of the work done to make marriage #2 better than marriage #1 ever was.

How can you know you’re in a happy relationship that’s both good for your health and everyone around you? Can such a thing be measured? It can! The Gottman Relationship Adviser, the world’s first complete relationship wellness tool for couples, takes the guesswork out of improving your relationship. Measure your relationship health with a research-based self-assessment, then receive a tailored digital relationship plan proven to heal and strengthen your connection.

For an in-depth analysis of your relationship health check out the Gottman Assessment, a virtual relationship evaluation tool for couples.

Take this free relationship quiz and find out how well you know your partner.

Has your relationship experienced a sexual or an emotional affair? The Gottman Institute is currently seeking couples for an international study on affair recovery. ="wpforms-"]

‎Heal from Infidelity on Apple Podcasts

104 episodes

Heal from Infidelity is a podcast dedicated to teaching women how to heal their lives from the inside out after betrayal in their marriages. Life Coach Andrea Giles combines her own personal experience and coaching wisdom to help women move past their biggest hurdles of learning to trust themselves (and others) again. She will teach you how to create a life you never dreamed possible. You’ll be amazed at what you are capable of when you learn how to powerfully help yourself. For more information, visit andreagiles.com.

  1. Breaking Free from Resentment

    Breaking Free from Resentment

    Resentment. This is an emotion I see in almost all of my clients, whether they be the one who was betrayed or the one who did the betraying. While it is a common emotion that many of us struggle with, it can be deadly if left unchecked.

    In this episode, I’ll cover where resentment comes from and why it can be so tempting to hold on to it. You will hear real life examples of clients I work with who are grappling with this and seeing how it is keeping them from moving forward.

    You will also learn what to do with this powerful emotion. Listen to learn how to cut through resentment and turn it into something much more useful and sustainable.

    To learn more from me, be sure to be on my email list at https://andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/

    Please click the button to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave a review if your favorite podcast app has that ability. Thank you!

    For transcripts and other available downloads, please visit my website at https://andreagiles.com/podcast/

    © 2022 Andrea Giles

  2. The Impact of Infidelity

    The Impact of Infidelity

    Many would agree that infidelity can be one of the most painful experiences to endure. In this episode, rather than taking that statement at its word, I dive into the impact of infidelity and the ways it affects us.

    Just like all things in life, there are some things that are out of control, and some that are very much in our control. Even with infidelity, there is much that we can choose. We can choose just how much we allow the choices of another to impact us. This episode will help you see where you are making the experience more painful for yourself and what you can do about it.

    To work with me, schedule a 1-1 call to see if my upcoming Know in 90 group is right for you. We begin in November!

    Please click the button to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave a review if your favorite podcast app has that ability. Thank you!

    For transcripts and other available downloads, please visit my website at https://andreagiles.com/podcast/

    © 2022 Andrea Giles

  3. After the Affair with Luke Shillings

    After the Affair with Luke Shillings

    In this episode, I interview Luke Schillings about his personal experience with experiencing and healing from infidelity. He has used his own painful experience to now work with men who are navigating that space. Listen for some amazing wisdom of how to let go, heal, and move on.

    Luke is a 40 something father of two who recently escaped the 9-5 to chase his dreams of becoming a relationship and infidelity coach. UK based and Lincolnshire born and bred, he can often be found running in the countryside, volunteering, drinking coffee or engrossed in an Excel spreadsheet. He now takes much of his life experience, combined it with his unique coaching skills to help those who have been through infidelity trust again and move forward with their lives.”
    Luke's Info:
    Website: www.lifecoachluke.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/mylifecoachluke Instagram: www.instagram.com/mylifecoachluke LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mylifecoachluke After the Affair Podcast on Apple After the Affair Podcast on Podbean
    To work with Andrea, schedule a 1-1 call to see if her upcoming Know in 90 group is right for you. We begin in November!

    Please click the button to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave a review if your favorite podcast app has that ability. Thank you!

    For transcripts and other available downloads, please visit my website at https://andreagiles.com/podcast/

    © 2022 Andrea Giles

  4. The Best of Heal from Infidelity

    The Best of Heal from Infidelity

    To celebrate 100 episodes, tune in to hear snippets from the top 5 episodes thus far. You, my dear listeners, have been a delight to show up for, and I want you to know which episodes have been the most listened to. You may just learn that others are right where you are, and that you are not alone in struggling with the same things.

    Thank you for your love, support, shares, and reviews. Here’s to the next 100!

    To work with me, schedule a 1-1 call to see if my upcoming Know in 90 group is right for you. We begin in November!

    Please click the button to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave a review if your favorite podcast app has that ability. Thank you!

    For transcripts and other available downloads, please visit my website at https://andreagiles.com/podcast/

    © 2022 Andrea Giles

  5. Will It Always Hurt?

    Will It Always Hurt?

    A question I get asked a lot is, “Will it always hurt?” For most people, infidelity is one of life's experiences that can shake up your very foundation. It can be hard to imagine a time when it doesn't hurt every day.

    In this episode, I share not only the good news that you won’t always hurt, but steps to take to make sure you don’t. Your healing does not have to be outsourced to anyone but you -- you can do things right now that will help you feel peace, calm, and start healing your heart.

    Please click the button to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave a review if your favorite podcast app has that ability. Thank you!

    For transcripts and other available downloads, please visit my website at https://andreagiles.com/podcast/

    © 2022 Andrea Giles

  6. Negative Expectations

    Negative Expectations

    When you think of the future, do you feel a sense of foreboding, or hope?

    Much of what you anticipate can be traced to past, unresolved experiences with your partner. In this episode, you’ll learn what probably happened and didn’t happen before the infidelity that is creating problems now.

    Once you understand what is happening and what you can do about it, you’ll be able to choose how to view the future and be very intentional about what you are creating.

    Please click the button to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave a review if your favorite podcast app has that ability. Thank you!

    For transcripts and other available downloads, please visit my website at https://andreagiles.com/podcast/

    © 2022 Andrea Giles

Customer Reviews

183 Ratings

Best podcast for infidelity healing

I can honestly say that I learn something new every time I listen in. This has been a very hopeful part of my healing journey.

Heal Yourself

I’ve been struggling on how to cope with all the upheaval that infidelity causes. I’ve been focused on trying to heal the marriage, instead of myself. This podcast has helped me shift the focus from my marriage to me. It has helped me tremendously. My husband has even noticed and, while that’s a benefit, that is no longer my goal. I want to be the best version of me. If he’s still there at the end, that’ll be my choice. Thank you so much!

My lifeboat

Infidelity is an incredibly heart breaking and lonely experience. You need intense support but it’s also something you can’t share with the world. This podcast has helped me though my need for someone who understands what I’m going through - the pain, the doubt, the self esteem crash, the exhaustion, the anger - and can offer helpful suggestions of how to move forward. It’s been better than my therapist and I plan to take her course.

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How to heal after infidelity - DIVORCE.help

Few events destroy a marriage as much as infidelity, which can lead to distrust, insecurity and divorce. Statistics on adultery are difficult to ascertain, as extramarital affairs cannot be viewed as objectively as divorce or marriage. An estimated 60% of husbands and 40% of wives have an affair at some point in their marriage; less than 10% of people who have had affairs divorce or marry their loved ones.

Infidelity is not a "death sentence"

As painful and devastating as infidelity is, family therapists say it is a wound that can be gradually healed. It takes into account the opinion of millions of people who have survived the novel: infidelity is a treatable crisis. Sounds like a monumental risk? This is true, so it is necessary to consider some recommendations on how to heal if you are being cheated on.

No matter how gloomy the situation may seem, in theory any marriage can be fixed, even if you are on the verge of breaking up. First of all, experts argue that there is no “quick fix” to repair the damage done by an unfaithful partner. This process takes time—often years—and requires a lot of patience to deal with disappointment and setbacks. Be prepared for any situation and it will lessen over time. However, according to experts, here are the most important steps to healing from infidelity:

When it comes to infidelity, seek help.

What an unfaithful partner should do

• Be absolutely honest in your actions. The unfaithful must be ready to talk about infidelity in detail and in detail in accordance with the wishes of the partner. Women need to know why this happened. They feel that if they do not find the root of the infidelity, then it is likely to repeat itself, and the truth contributes to healing, as it turns off the imagination. What they imagine is usually much worse than what actually happened. If talking about infidelity is extremely uncomfortable, consider seeking help from a family therapist or marriage counselor to navigate the minefield.

• Express remorse and behave in a trustworthy manner. He should be sincerely sorry for hurting you and show countless proofs of his loyalty since then, especially recently, when trust has been eroded. He needs to show that he respects you, that he cares about your need for reassurance. For example, it is useful for him to tell what he does and where he goes when you are not together in order to restore the level of trust.

• Reflect to determine why you had this affair outside of a marriage or relationship. If the reason was dissatisfaction with the marriage, then this needs to be talked about so that both partners can change something. Recognizing the vulnerabilities in the relationship that contributed to the infidelity is critical to preventing a recurrence of infidelity.

What the person who has been cheated on should do

• Ask for everything you need for healing. Obviously, the cheater must give in and make an effort to heal and improve the marriage or relationship, and the betrayer must tell her what needs to be done to regain trust.

• Spend time with your partner without revolving around cheating. It is especially important to reunite as friends and lovers, to enjoy each other's presence. Go for walks, restaurants, and concerts—do whatever you can to bring you back together.

• Choose forgiveness. Infidelity is not forgotten. Memory cannot be erased, but the act itself can be forgiven, and over time it will fade against the backdrop of a strong marriage. A deceived woman must forgive - this is the last step to healing. You forgive not just for the sake of another, but to enlighten yourself, lay the foundation for a new stage in life, restore intimacy and connection ...

Saving a marriage after infidelity requires great dedication and effort. Marriages shattered by infidelity, experts say, are often stronger than they were before, because eventually a near-fatal disaster prompts the couple to take joint responsibility for each other's happiness.

HEALING FROM INFAITHFULNESS - Seventh Day Adventist Christian Church

And I will bring this third part into the fire, and I will melt them as silver is melted, and I will purify them as gold is refined: they will call on my name, and I will hear them and say, “These are my people,” and they will say, “ The Lord is my God!" (Zech. 13:9).

No one will ever penetrate into the depth and strength of the pain and suffering that the Lord experienced in connection with the apostasy and betrayal of His beloved people. This is how the prophets conveyed the heart-rending lamentations of our Creator: “Listen, heaven, and listen, earth, because the Lord says: I raised and raised up sons, but they rebelled against me. An ox knows its owner, and an ass knows its master's manger; and Israel does not know Me My people do not understand"; “And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. What more should be done for my vineyard that I have not done for it? Why, when I expected him to bring good grapes, did he bring wild berries?” (Isaiah 1:2, 3; 5:3, 4) “Thus says the Lord: What falsehood (‘guilt’ — IBT) your fathers found in Me, that they turned away from Me and pursued vanity (‘worthless idols’ — IPB), and became vain (‘and they themselves became worthless’ — IPB )?” (Jer. 2:5). “My people! what did I do to you (“how did I annoy you” - RBO) and how did I burden you? answer me” (Micah 6:3).

This is the hysterical cry of the loving heart of the Father of the Universe. He perceives the pain and grief of His creation (people on earth) as His grief and pain, does not separate and does not leave it, wants to help, wants to see us happy, joyful, contented. And therefore, in order to return Israel to the true path, the Lord was forced to resort to educational measures that were not characteristic of His character, for other methods of correcting people mired in sins are ineffective. To purify gold from impurities, it is subjected to a smelting process. To cleanse a sinner from sin, he must also be subjected to the process of melting in fire. The Lord allows suffering, sorrow, bitterness in the lives of the Israeli people: King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and resettled many Israelis in different parts of the Babylonian Empire. The captive Israelites, humiliated and insulted, dishonored and bloodless, had to live in a foreign land for seventy years.

All these bitter national sufferings were the melting process to which God subjected them. After this period, the Lord prompted the pagan kings to contribute to the restoration of the temple, the walls of Jerusalem, and the return of Israel to their homeland. And as a result of such a fiery process, God's chosen people were forever delivered from the sin of idolatry.

Learn more