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Affair Recovery: Is it Possible to Heal from Infidelity?

couple after an affair in their relationship

An affair can be experienced as a huge rupture in a relationship. It can destroy trust and sometimes it can destroy the relationship. The partner who had the affair often feels shame and the other partner can feel betrayal. Shame and betrayal are two of the most painful emotions we can experience. Therefore, both of you are in pain.

What constitutes as infidelity?

Basically, infidelity is the breaking of a promise to remain faithful to a romantic partner, whether that promise was a part of marriage vows, a privately uttered agreement between lovers, or an unspoken assumption.

Infidelity can be sexual in nature and/or emotional. It can be a one-time encounter, serial infidelity, or a long-term affair.

Which is worse – sexual or emotional infidelity?

Not to stereotype here but research shows that men and women can have different opinions on this. For instance, it can be more difficult for a man to get over his partner having a sexual affair than an emotional one. This may be due to the fact that some men do not view an emotional relationship with another woman as being unfaithful. Also, men often experience their partner having sex with someone else as a threat to their masculinity.

Women can have a harder time with their partner having an emotional affair. This may be due to women are more likely to have emotional feelings for the person they were unfaithful with. So, the emotional attachment their partner has to someone else can feel more threatening.

In one survey, 44 percent of men who’d had affairs said it was only about sex, but only 11 percent of women reported the same.

How long does it take to recover from an affair?

Affair recovery is a journey. The first year is the hardest. On average, it takes a good two years to get on the other side. There are several variables that can affect how the potential recovery process for a couple will go. For the person who was unfaithful, did you disclose the affair to your partner or did your partner discover it on their own? Was it with a co-worker that you will have to continue to see daily? Has there been other infidelities in the past?

For the betrayed partner, was your partner honest about the infidelity? Did they deny any wrong doing and gaslight you for questioning them? Was the affair with one of your friends? All of these factors can make it difficult to repair trust.


Couples Counseling Boulder with Darleen Gegich MA LPC


Does infidelity pain ever go away?

You may not be able to see it right now, but it is possible to get through this and come out of it with a stronger relationship than you had before the infidelity. I often say, there can be fractures in the foundation of a relationship that make the relationship vulnerable for another person to come in. An affair can shatter the foundation of a marriage that wasn’t working as well as the couple thought. Through a lot of hard work and moving through the pain together, you can get on the other side of the rupture and create a foundation that works much better for both of you. Affairs can happen to good people and it is possible to heal from infidelity.

Marin-Cordero and Christensen found similar results to the earlier research by Atkins et al. (2010) and Gordon et al. (2004), in which the relationship satisfaction of couples working on rebuilding trust in couples therapy also reached a point of marital satisfaction equaling that of couples not in recovery from infidelity.

Numerous studies show the same stubborn fact. If your motivated to stay together after infidelity, the odds are in your favor for a healthy recovery.

Marriage Counseling Can Help Restore Trust and Intimacy in Your Relationship

Couples counseling can provide a safe space and a structure for both of you to be able to share how you experienced the infidelity. What you are going through now and what your fears are for the future. It is important for both of you to be heard and understand on a deeper level what happened. The focus of our work together will be on healing and transforming the pain, repairing trust and restoring connection.

Reach out today to schedule a 20-minute phone consultation to see if couples counseling is right for your relationship.

Contact Darleen


Christensen, A., Atkins, D. C., Baucom, B., & Yi, J. (2010). Marital status and satisfaction five years following a randomized clinical trial comparing traditional versus integrative behavioral couple therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78, 225–235. doi:10.1037/a0018132

Gordon, K. C., Baucom, D. H., & Snyder, D. K. (2004). An integrative intervention for promoting recovery from extramarital affairs. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30, 213–231. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2004.tb01235.x


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