Heal Your Relationship After An Affair

Takeaways: Healing your relationship after an affair takes commitment, work, and courage from both partners. But doing this work together can make your relationship stronger, more satisfying, and more resilient than ever before. Getting support as you heal your relationship after an affair gives you the best shot at moving forward together in positive ways.

How to Heal Your Relationship After an Affair

In my experience as a couples counselor and affair recovery coach, there is nothing more painful than discovering that your partner has been cheating on you. It is enormously stressful, painful, and all-consuming. Many couples struggle with infidelity, and how to rebuild the trust and security in their relationship after betrayal (or wonder if it’s time to walk away after infidelity). Infidelity can happen on a spectrum, from “micro-cheating” to a long-term affair. When infidelity is discovered, it feels like it blows your life apart. This is true for both the person who has been betrayed, as well as the person who cheated (who may now feel not just terribly guilty, but afraid of losing the things most precious to them, too). However, what I know from many years of experience is that there IS a path back together again after infidelity. In fact, I strongly believe that couples have a grand opportunity when infidelity is uncovered, not to just “survive infidelity” but rather to create a much stronger, happier, secure relationship than ever before.

Heal Your Relationship After an Affair is More Than Just “Surviving Infidelity”

When an affair or infidelity is revealed, it sends a couple into a crisis. With the right support (and commitment, courage, and persistence), a couple can use this crisis to get radically honest with each other and build their empathy, and compassion. Believe it or not, the last phases of healing after infidelity often include two people actually feeling safer and more emotionally connected with each other than they did previously.

How Do I Get Over an Affair?

I know it sounds hard to believe, but you don’t have to walk away after infidelity. You can heal, and stay together. You may not ever “get over” an affair, but you can certainly heal your relationship. It is also possible to rebuild trust after infidelity. However…. getting past infidelity is an active process, for both partners. Time alone does not heal an affair. You cannot just “get over” infidelity. After you’ve been betrayed, you can’t just flip a switch and put the past in the past, and trust your partner again. But you can heal, and you can trust again… when you’re both doing the work of recovery, together.

Can a Relationship Go Back to Normal After Infidelity?

Relationships can emerge from the trial of infidelity stronger and more resilient, but this requires a work and commitment from both partners. The first step involves a genuine apology from the partner who committed infidelity and a willingness to understand the pain caused. Both partners must commit to transparency, and open, honest communication, ideally with support from a couples’ therapist who can help them navigate the complexities of rebuilding trust. Healing requires time, patience, and consistent effort. It involves re-establishing trust, which is a gradual process where consistent, trustworthy behavior must be demonstrated over time.

Getting back to “normal” isn’t the goal. You can’t go back to the relationship before the affair; what happened has changed you both. But it doesn’t have to change you or your relationship for the worse. Your new normal can be marked by deeper understanding, better communication, and more satisfying emotional intimacy.

Real Advice for How to Heal Your Relationship After an Affair

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Schedule a Free Consultation Today.

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m sharing the ten crucial steps that every couple must take to heal their relationship after an affair. I hope that this discussion creates a road map for you to follow, as you work to reclaim your relationship, your trust, and your sense of security after an affair.

And if you’d like to do this transformative work at Growing Self, I invite you to schedule a free consultation.

With love and respect,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. — I have more advice for you on healing after infidelity in my “affair recovery” collection of articles and podcasts. I hope you’ll take advantage of it — it’s all there for you! xoxo

Citations

  1. Rokach A, Chan SH. Love and Infidelity: Causes and Consequences. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Feb 22;20(5):3904. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20053904. PMID: 36900915; PMCID: PMC10002055. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/20/5/3904
  2. Infidelity in Romantic Relationships. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352250X16300227

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Heal Your Relationship After An Affair

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Marriage Counseling Questions | Couples Therapy Questions

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51 Comments

  1. Do YOU have a question for me? Related to how to get past infidelity, or anything else? (Relationships, breakups, career, general personal growth?) If so I’d love to hear it, so that I can answer your question for you. Feel free to leave your question in the comments, or if you want to get really fancy you can leave me a voicemail, recording a question for an upcoming episode of the podcast. 720-443-1110. — LMB

    1. Recovering From Infidelity: How To Heal Your Relationship. I stumbled across this podcast quite by chance. I started listening with fairly limited expectations BUT I was very quickly taken aback by how closely your podcast mirrored my experiences and feelings. The explanation of what was happening and the details of the path we could expect to walk was so accurate that I would like to get this type of help for my marriage. My question is – how can I find a therapist who can walk us through the process you described?

      1. Hello! Thanks for listening to the podcast. I’m glad that this episode was helpful to you. We have a number of fantastic marriage counselors on our team who share my perspective and process for recovering after infidelity. In particular, Brenda Fahn, M.A., LMFT, Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFTC, Jenna Peterson, M.A., LMFTC, Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT would be just a few of the good choices here at Growing Self.

        While repairing your relationship after infidelity is a process, and can take a long time, it’s absolutely possible. It sounds like you’ve made it through a lot already and that you’re motivated to continue making positive gains. I hope you get the right support and continue moving forward.

        Sincerely,
        Lisa Marie Bobby

    2. Hi! My fiancé recently had an affair which resulted in pregnancy. He has suggested couples therapy. What’s the difference between couples counseling and having a relationship coach?

      1. Krista, I’m glad that you two are looking into couples counseling. What you described is a major attachment trauma, and couples who heal from these types of things (which IS possible, btw) usually need the support of a professional to do so.

        Your question: What is the difference between a couples counselor and a coach. The answer is that it depends on who you see for couples therapy or relationship coaching. I would strongly advise you to NOT seek support from someone who is just a “relationship coach” and who does not have a formal background in marriage and family therapy (i.e., Master’s Degree or Doctorate in counseling psychology, and licensure as a marriage and family therapist).

        Why? Because LITERALLY ANYONE can call themselves a “relationship coach.” You do not need any training to call yourself a “relationship coach” and set up a slick website and start taking clients. Your idiot neighbor can read a questionable relationship book this morning, decide this afternoon that they are really smart and have a lot of opinions on this subject and that they’d make a great relationship coach, and start seeing clients tomorrow.

        As a licensed mental health professional, I find this not just scary, but really tragic. I would never, ever, ever work with a “relationship coach” either personally or professionally. People, like you, with very serious relationship issues and big things to work through can reach out for help from some such “relationship coach” and not just waste time and money, but are also at the mercy of someone who has no idea what they are doing. (But probably thinks they do!) It would be terrible for you to have a sincere desire (and chance!) to heal your relationship, but wind up having a bad experience with a relationship coach and break up. Please don’t do this!

        Instead, please seek help from a marriage and family therapist who has training and experience in evidence based forms of couples counseling such as The Gottman Method and / or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. You can do “couples counseling” with them which may involve deeper work where you both look at things like family history, old emotional wounds, as a path towards healing. OR you can do solution focused “relationship coaching” where you both get guidance and strategies that help you heal and improve your relationship.

        LSS: With a truly qualified person you can decide if a deeper “counseling” approach or solution focused “coaching” approach would be more effective, and likely either modality you use will be really useful for you and will help you rebuild your relationship. Here are some of your options for couples counselors and relationship coaches at Growing Self. You can also look into getting in touch with a Marriage and Family Therapist locally.

        Great question Krista. I sincerely wish you all the best as you work to repair your relationship.

        Lisa Marie Bobby

    3. I have a question I have not seen addressed. I was the unfaithful partner. After cutting all ties to the other person and fully committing to the marriage we started spending time together and talking about rebuilding our marriage. Shortly after this, she went home with a random guy from the bar and had sex with him. She was also flirting with another guy which she lied about. We continued working on our marriage, but she continued communicating with both even while we were engaged in counseling. After several arguments about this, she agreed to cut ties with both. She insists she did nothing wrong, and insists on complete privacy, both for what she did during that time, and indefinitely. While I understand a greater need for complete openness and honesty from me, which I am and have been giving, and that she may not be ready yet, this also causes trust issues moving forward. How important is it for both partners to be forthcoming, open, and honest to truly rebuild?

      1. You are totally correct: You both need to be open, honest, transparent, and courageous in your silliness to take responsibility for your behavior and take ownership for the hurt that it caused. It sounds like your partner is struggling to give you what you need in order to heal. Are you still in couples counseling? If not, it’s time to reconnect with your marriage counselor for support around this! (And if you are in marriage counseling and this is not being appropriately addressed, this is problematic. Tell your couples therapist what you need and ask for their help in getting it.)

        Wishing you all the best,
        Dr. Lisa

  2. Hello Dr. Lisa and thank you for your promising talk. I recently found about my husband affair (around 4 months ago). We are married for 10 years but when we were only 24. We agreed on repairing the relationship since he expressed his regret and also I could not think about the divorce since it was shock for me as you mentioned. My main problem is that: I am still not sure about my decision.
    We tried to talk with a marriage consultant but because of two reason it was not helpful. First, I feel the consultant mainly wast the session because of money and second my husband did not like to involve so much. Therefore,we decided to stop.
    Now, we just stop to talking about the issue and considering time as a healing factor. But I still feel the necessity of talking with an expert however my main issue is convince my husband to participate completely in the sessions. I would be thankful if you can support me with some advises.

    1. Mary, I completely agree: If you guys are really going to heal from this affair and rebuild your relationship, it will require both of you getting engaged in high quality marriage counseling with someone who knows how to help you AND your partner’s investment in the process. Time alone does NOT heal this. Not talking about it just makes it worse. You cannot wallpaper over this: You’ve sustained a major trauma to your marriage that will continue to create hurt and anxiety and anger and fear for the rest of the time you are with this person unless you two address it and work through it, together.

      If you tried marriage counseling and it fell flat either 1) you found a “couples counselor” who (as too many do) did not have the training and experience to know how to really help you. I would consider trying again, but this time look for a “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist” who practices evidence-based forms of couples counseling such as The Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

      However… if your husband is refusing to talk about this, or do the work of healing your relationship with you, you might have some soul-searching to do. Is this good enough for YOU? You might consider getting involved in some good, supporting therapy or life coaching on your own to get clear about what you want in your life, and in your marriage.

      One last thought: While your English is wonderful, you phrased a few things in such a way as to make me wonder if English is not your native language. If that is the case I would strongly advise you to work with a marriage counselor who speaks your language, and who is culturally competent to support you. Understanding culture is a very important factor of good marriage counseling, as is feeling confident that you are being heard and understood by your therapist, and you deserve to have that.

      My two cents…

  3. I like that you said that you may not ever “get over” an affair, but you can certainly heal your relationship. My best friend and her husband are thinking about going to counseling after his recent infidelity and I think that it would really help them. I know they want to stay together so I think it would help them heal their relationship and help them learn to love each other again. Thanks for the tips on recovering from infidelity.

  4. My husband just cheated last Thursday and told me that day. He now realizes he needs to do serous therapy. Should we wait to do couples work until after he’s done some individual work or start both at the same time?. He’s been lost and unable to think clearly for months.

    1. Oh no! How awful. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. This one does not have an easy answer. If your husband is ambivalent about what he wants to do, and is figuring out whether to re-invest emotionally in your marriage or is in a lot of emotional pain about the ending of the affair (like, pining away for his lover) I would recommend that he get into therapy to figure himself out without subjecting you to couples work that he is not ready to fully participate in. And if this is the case I would strongly recommend that YOU get into some supportive therapy as well — you deserve a place to go process all of this, and figure out what is best for YOU right now. This is not all about him!

      On the other hand, if your husband is clear that the affair was a mistake and is committed to healing your marriage I would not delay in getting involved with high quality marriage counseling asap. He doesn’t even necessarily need individual therapy at all, if he is clear about what he wants to do. Then you both can do the work of healing and growing back together again.

      Last piece of advice: this is a big deal, and this type of couples work is very difficult. Please, please, please make sure you find a marriage counselor (as in, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) who has specialized training and experience in this area specifically. 95% of all therapists who are happy to see couples do NOT have specific training in couples therapy, and especially for situations like affair recovery, do not know how to guide a couple through the repair process. (Date nights and learning to use “I statements” are not exactly going to cut it).

      So please, look for someone who went to a graduate program that specialized in couples and family therapy, has an “MFT” after their name, and who practices evidence-based forms of couples counseling such as Emotionally Focused Therapy and / or the Gottman Method. (And for the love of God please do not work with some self-appointed “relationship coach.”) You guys deserve to get real help for your relationship.

      The path to healing is a hard one, and it takes a long time, but it works. Many of the couples we work with around this issue come out the other side stronger than ever before, and I hope that happens for you too.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT

  5. Thank you for the great article about how you can start recovering from infidelity. My cousin is going through this exact thing right now and it is really hard to watch. I wonder if I could help him look for a counselor.

    1. Great idea Sandra. Sounds like couples counseling would be appropriate, under the circumstances. Here’s a link to the relationship experts of Growing Self, if you think he might benefit from meeting with one of the relationship experts on our team: Meet Our Team

  6. Two years ago I found out my husband had a one time affair several years prior. My husband and I have always had a great relationship and sex life. During the time this happened we had a lot going on in our family and sex was not as much a priority as it usually was. There were also sexual feelings that my husband failed to communicate with me. I chose to stay. We still have a great relationship and love each other, and have a great sex life but I still sometimes have a hard time not thinking about what happened. Seems like there are triggers that make me sad. The million dollar question is what can I do to help with this

    1. Kristin, have you two done any marriage counseling around this issue specifically? Most couples need professional support to work through the pain and anger (and shame, and guilt, and defensiveness) that are inevitable in these situations. It can feel challenging to confront these feelings directly, but if you have healing experiences and you and your husband learn how to manage these intrusive thoughts together, you CAN get past this. I hope you get the support you deserve!

      All the best,
      Lisa

  7. After 35 years of marriage I found out in July of this year my husband was having an emotional affair that started in March of this year. Even though he admitted he does have inappropriate feelings for her it hadn’t come to the point where they both verbally expressed feelings for each other. He has expressed great remorse, and is doing all he can to rebuild trust. My deep concern is he still sees her at work, & I get very anxious every day when he’s at work. He feels it’s not a problem because he is totally committed to our marriage, and is not engaging in personal conversation with her. Since they work together it’s not an option to avoid her completely but some days he says he only has to say a couple of sentences to her to get his job done. It is not an option to quit his job. My question is will healing not be able to occur in our marriage unless he quits his job & thus is able to cut all contact w/her? Is there any possibility of repairing our marriage when he still has contact with her? What can he do if he is still working with her? Thank-you!

  8. After 35 years of marriage I found out in July of this year my husband was having an emotional affair that started in March of this year. Even though he admitted he does have inappropriate feelings for her it hadn’t come to the point where they both verbally expressed feelings for each other. He has expressed great remorse, and is doing all he can to rebuild trust. My deep concern is he still sees her at work, & I get very anxious every day when he’s at work. He feels it’s not a problem because he is totally committed to our marriage, and is not engaging in personal conversation with her. Since they work together it’s not an option to avoid her completely but some days he says he only has to say a couple of sentences to her to get his job done. It is not an option to quit his job. My question is will healing not be able to occur in our marriage unless he quits his job & thus is able to cut all contact w/her? Is there any possibility of repairing our marriage when he still has contact with her? What can he do if he still works with her?

    1. Hey Jane, thanks for reaching out. Emotional affairs are very difficult, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. The sort answer is Yes, many (most, actually!) couples CAN work through this kind of thing… but not usually without considerable support from a great marriage counselor who has experience in helping couples heal from infidelity.

      Jane, there are a lot of therapists out there who offer couples counseling who do not have specific training and experience in this area, and it really makes a bit difference. I didn’t hear in your story whether you were in marriage counseling to repair your trust after infidelity. If you aren’t, it’s really essential that you do. Without professional support, many couples spiral more deeply down into a cycle of anger / anxiety / defensiveness that can be really difficult to dig out from. Please look for a MFT (marriage and family therapist) who has experience with this. It’s a hard road but absolutely doable, with the right support.

      If you’d like to connect with any of the marriage and family therapists on the Growing Self team, here’s the link to schedule a free consultation: http://www.growingself.as.me. You and your husband can meet with a competent, experienced, highly trained couples counselor and see if it feels like a good fit to do this work together.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Lisa Marie Bobby

  9. Hello, Listening to your podcast and reading some of the comments has only refreshed old wounds for me. I began a long distance relationship with a woman from another country that I met online after posting a comment about how close I was to taking my own life. We had been communicating on the phone for a long time (a little over a year) until we found Skype. After a heated argument one night on Skype we didn’t talk for about 10 days. I tried to communicate with her, but soon found out that she had “blocked” me on social media sites as well as her phone, text everything. Shortly after the ten days were up she allowed me to contact her on Skype again where she told me that since she hadn’t heard from me during those ten days she felt that our relationship was over. In that same conversation she had told me that she had just gone out with a guy that same night for “coffee”. I was devastated because she means the world to me. It has very difficult for me to continue on with her since her revelation, but we managed to keep going. Because of the great geographical distance between us and subsequent arguments that we’ve had, it’s hard for me to believe her at times when I ask her what she’s been up to, especially after an argument. We talk every night on Skype for hours. Because of the great deal of pain I’ve felt I just want to forget about what I view as her infidelity. She has said that she doesn’t consider her date to be a case of infidelity because I didn’t contact her during those ten days!! When I asked her why she didn’t contact me to see if we were really through before going pout on a date with someone she hasn’t been able to give me an answer. Please I need help or advice badly because I love this woman and even though she has done what I consider to be unfaithful, I still love her very much. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

    1. Dear John,

      I’m reading a number of things between the lines here that seem pretty important: One is that you may have an even greater need than most people to be in a reliable, emotionally-safe, and secure-feeling relationship…. and this relationship is not that. Two: You mention early in your post that you struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings, Three: that you are deeply in love and consider yourself to be in a committed relationship with someone you’ve never met in person. (At least not that you mentioned in the info you provided here).

      I think that if your goal is to be in a stable, committed, and healthy relationship, the most important thing for you to do right now is get involved with a great, local therapist who can explore things like your attachment style, help you develop skills and strategies to manage the intense feelings you have, and who can support you as you evaluate for yourself whether this particular relationship is a good choice for you long term, given the obstacles and limitations you describe. In particular, you may potentially benefit from working with a therapist who practices an evidence based form of cognitive behavioral therapy called “DBT” that emphasizes mindfulness skills and communication.

      I would start by Googling “CBT therapy near me” or “DBT therapy near me” and see if any good local providers pop up. You can also use Psychology Today to vet therapists in your area. Another resource to support your journey of growth here is a podcast I did not to long ago about Attachment Styles in Relationships, which may be interesting to you. I hope you check it out, and that you bring some of those ideas to the table in your work with your therapist.

      In the meantime if you have ANY suicidal thoughts or feelings please reach out immediately to the suicide hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They have trained, caring counselors available to speak with you 24/7.

      Wishing you all the best John…
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  10. I recently learned of my husbands infidelity. Can you fix and build a better relationship at home on your own? With help of blogs, books, podcasts, at home worksheets, and of course open communication. I can’t really afford the cost of therapy right now. Thank you.

    1. Monique, I’m so sorry to hear this. You can certainly help yourself to all the resources for healing from infidelity here on the Growing Self blog and podcast, and I’m sure there are books out there too.

      However, in my professional opinion, healing from infidelity is incredibly difficult work for most couples. It can absolutely be done, but the path forward is challenging and — just like a broken bone that’s not set correctly — this experience can create lasting damage that becomes layered and more difficult to repair going forward.

      It’s also true that with the right support, your two can come out the other side of this stronger than ever before. I do understand that high quality, effective marriage counseling is an investment of time and energy, as well as money. But if you’re thinking about this in terms of dollars and cents, I would also urge you to consider the cost (financial, as well as emotional and material) of NOT getting meaningful help.

      For example, think about what you might wind up paying a divorce lawyer, realtor, or the cost of a single-parent situation if you break up. (Whatever number just popped into your head, at at least one or two zeros to the end of it, to get an accurate estimate).
      For more perspective on how affordable couples therapy really is, consider that even just a month or two of rent / utilities / groceries out on your own is going to cost more than an entire course of excellent couples therapy. In the scheme of your life, the money is peanuts compared to what you’re going to pay (on every level) for not getting help.

      Money is not the same thing as value. We figure out ways to pay for all kinds of things that are more expensive and not nearly as meaningful or important as marriage counseling. (Think about how much you spent on your couch, your TV, or your last weekend away). I hope that you two find a way to prioritize your relationship, and get the help you need to heal and grow back together again.

      I hope this perspective helps you, and I wish you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  11. I uncovered that my wife was having an emotional affair about 3.5 years ago. It was devastating, but also got us into therapy which helped us to work through some of the underlying problems in our relationship. Generally, our relationship has been better ever since, but there have been some extenuating circumstances that I feel have prevented us from completely moving past the EA.

    First, the EA took place with someone at the fire dept where my wife volunteers pretty soon after she had joined. I felt that asking her to quit the dept, which was a lifelong dream for her, would end up creating resentment that could poison the relationship. The agreement that we eventually came to was that she would stay as a member, but she was not to have anything to do with him outside of what is required to respond to a fire.

    Over the past couple of years, I have found evidence that this agreement wasn’t being completely followed (generic texts, emails, social media search history). Nothing necessarily flirty, but friendlier than what we had agreed upon. I have confronted her on this, and while she minimized the interactions as being benign, she did admit that she still has feelings for him from time to time.

    It’s been almost 4 years, and I’m not sure how to take the final steps to work this out so I can finally experience the emotional safety that I’m looking for.

    Thank you for your podcasts, as it has been a huge help in understanding my feelings and situation.

  12. Do YOU have a question for me? Related to how to get past infidelity, or anything else? (Relationships, breakups, career, general personal growth?) If so I’d love to hear it, so that I can answer your question for you. Feel free to leave your question in the comments, or if you want to get really fancy you can leave me a voicemail, recording a question for an upcoming episode of the podcast. 720-443-1110. — LMB

  13. Recovering From Infidelity: How To Heal Your Relationship. I stumbled across this podcast quite by chance. I started listening with fairly limited expectations BUT I was very quickly taken aback by how closely your podcast mirrored my experiences and feelings. The explanation of what was happening and the details of the path we could expect to walk was so accurate that I would like to get this type of help for my marriage. My question is – how can I find a therapist who can walk us through the process you described?

  14. Hello! Thanks for listening to the podcast. I’m glad that this episode was helpful to you. We have a number of fantastic marriage counselors on our team who share my perspective and process for recovering after infidelity. In particular, Brenda Fahn, M.A., LMFT, Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFTC, Jenna Peterson, M.A., LMFTC, Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT would be just a few of the good choices here at Growing Self.

    While repairing your relationship after infidelity is a process, and can take a long time, it’s absolutely possible. It sounds like you’ve made it through a lot already and that you’re motivated to continue making positive gains. I hope you get the right support and continue moving forward.

    Sincerely,
    Lisa Marie Bobby

  15. Hi! My fiancé recently had an affair which resulted in pregnancy. He has suggested couples therapy. What’s the difference between couples counseling and having a relationship coach?

  16. Krista, I’m glad that you two are looking into couples counseling. What you described is a major attachment trauma, and couples who heal from these types of things (which IS possible, btw) usually need the support of a professional to do so.

    Your question: What is the difference between a couples counselor and a coach. The answer is that it depends on who you see for couples therapy or relationship coaching. I would strongly advise you to NOT seek support from someone who is just a “relationship coach” and who does not have a formal background in marriage and family therapy (i.e., Master’s Degree or Doctorate in counseling psychology, and licensure as a marriage and family therapist).

    Why? Because LITERALLY ANYONE can call themselves a “relationship coach.” You do not need any training to call yourself a “relationship coach” and set up a slick website and start taking clients. Your idiot neighbor can read a questionable relationship book this morning, decide this afternoon that they are really smart and have a lot of opinions on this subject and that they’d make a great relationship coach, and start seeing clients tomorrow.

    As a licensed mental health professional, I find this not just scary, but really tragic. I would never, ever, ever work with a “relationship coach” either personally or professionally. People, like you, with very serious relationship issues and big things to work through can reach out for help from some such “relationship coach” and not just waste time and money, but are also at the mercy of someone who has no idea what they are doing. (But probably thinks they do!) It would be terrible for you to have a sincere desire (and chance!) to heal your relationship, but wind up having a bad experience with a relationship coach and break up. Please don’t do this!

    Instead, please seek help from a marriage and family therapist who has training and experience in evidence based forms of couples counseling such as The Gottman Method and / or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. You can do “couples counseling” with them which may involve deeper work where you both look at things like family history, old emotional wounds, as a path towards healing. OR you can do solution focused “relationship coaching” where you both get guidance and strategies that help you heal and improve your relationship.

    LSS: With a truly qualified person you can decide if a deeper “counseling” approach or solution focused “coaching” approach would be more effective, and likely either modality you use will be really useful for you and will help you rebuild your relationship. Here are some of your options for couples counselors and relationship coaches at Growing Self. You can also look into getting in touch with a Marriage and Family Therapist locally.

    Great question Krista. I sincerely wish you all the best as you work to repair your relationship.

    Lisa Marie Bobby

  17. Hello Dr. Lisa and thank you for your promising talk. I recently found about my husband affair (around 4 months ago). We are married for 10 years but when we were only 24. We agreed on repairing the relationship since he expressed his regret and also I could not think about the divorce since it was shock for me as you mentioned. My main problem is that: I am still not sure about my decision.
    We tried to talk with a marriage consultant but because of two reason it was not helpful. First, I feel the consultant mainly wast the session because of money and second my husband did not like to involve so much. Therefore,we decided to stop.
    Now, we just stop to talking about the issue and considering time as a healing factor. But I still feel the necessity of talking with an expert however my main issue is convince my husband to participate completely in the sessions. I would be thankful if you can support me with some advises.

  18. I like that you said that you may not ever “get over” an affair, but you can certainly heal your relationship. My best friend and her husband are thinking about going to counseling after his recent infidelity and I think that it would really help them. I know they want to stay together so I think it would help them heal their relationship and help them learn to love each other again. Thanks for the tips on recovering from infidelity.

  19. My husband just cheated last Thursday and told me that day. He now realizes he needs to do serous therapy. Should we wait to do couples work until after he’s done some individual work or start both at the same time?. He’s been lost and unable to think clearly for months.

  20. Oh no! How awful. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. This one does not have an easy answer. If your husband is ambivalent about what he wants to do, and is figuring out whether to re-invest emotionally in your marriage or is in a lot of emotional pain about the ending of the affair (like, pining away for his lover) I would recommend that he get into therapy to figure himself out without subjecting you to couples work that he is not ready to fully participate in. And if this is the case I would strongly recommend that YOU get into some supportive therapy as well — you deserve a place to go process all of this, and figure out what is best for YOU right now. This is not all about him!

    On the other hand, if your husband is clear that the affair was a mistake and is committed to healing your marriage I would not delay in getting involved with high quality marriage counseling asap. He doesn’t even necessarily need individual therapy at all, if he is clear about what he wants to do. Then you both can do the work of healing and growing back together again.

    Last piece of advice: this is a big deal, and this type of couples work is very difficult. Please, please, please make sure you find a marriage counselor (as in, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) who has specialized training and experience in this area specifically. 95% of all therapists who are happy to see couples do NOT have specific training in couples therapy, and especially for situations like affair recovery, do not know how to guide a couple through the repair process. (Date nights and learning to use “I statements” are not exactly going to cut it).

    So please, look for someone who went to a graduate program that specialized in couples and family therapy, has an “MFT” after their name, and who practices evidence-based forms of couples counseling such as Emotionally Focused Therapy and / or the Gottman Method. (And for the love of God please do not work with some self-appointed “relationship coach.”) You guys deserve to get real help for your relationship.

    The path to healing is a hard one, and it takes a long time, but it works. Many of the couples we work with around this issue come out the other side stronger than ever before, and I hope that happens for you too.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT

  21. Mary, I completely agree: If you guys are really going to heal from this affair and rebuild your relationship, it will require both of you getting engaged in high quality marriage counseling with someone who knows how to help you AND your partner’s investment in the process. Time alone does NOT heal this. Not talking about it just makes it worse. You cannot wallpaper over this: You’ve sustained a major trauma to your marriage that will continue to create hurt and anxiety and anger and fear for the rest of the time you are with this person unless you two address it and work through it, together.

    If you tried marriage counseling and it fell flat either 1) you found a “couples counselor” who (as too many do) did not have the training and experience to know how to really help you. I would consider trying again, but this time look for a “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist” who practices evidence-based forms of couples counseling such as The Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

    However… if your husband is refusing to talk about this, or do the work of healing your relationship with you, you might have some soul-searching to do. Is this good enough for YOU? You might consider getting involved in some good, supporting therapy or life coaching on your own to get clear about what you want in your life, and in your marriage.

    One last thought: While your English is wonderful, you phrased a few things in such a way as to make me wonder if English is not your native language. If that is the case I would strongly advise you to work with a marriage counselor who speaks your language, and who is culturally competent to support you. Understanding culture is a very important factor of good marriage counseling, as is feeling confident that you are being heard and understood by your therapist, and you deserve to have that.

    My two cents…

  22. Thank you for the great article about how you can start recovering from infidelity. My cousin is going through this exact thing right now and it is really hard to watch. I wonder if I could help him look for a counselor.

  23. Great idea Sandra. Sounds like couples counseling would be appropriate, under the circumstances. Here’s a link to the relationship experts of Growing Self, if you think he might benefit from meeting with one of the relationship experts on our team: Meet Our Team

  24. Two years ago I found out my husband had a one time affair several years prior. My husband and I have always had a great relationship and sex life. During the time this happened we had a lot going on in our family and sex was not as much a priority as it usually was. There were also sexual feelings that my husband failed to communicate with me. I chose to stay. We still have a great relationship and love each other, and have a great sex life but I still sometimes have a hard time not thinking about what happened. Seems like there are triggers that make me sad. The million dollar question is what can I do to help with this

  25. After 35 years of marriage I found out in July of this year my husband was having an emotional affair that started in March of this year. Even though he admitted he does have inappropriate feelings for her it hadn’t come to the point where they both verbally expressed feelings for each other. He has expressed great remorse, and is doing all he can to rebuild trust. My deep concern is he still sees her at work, & I get very anxious every day when he’s at work. He feels it’s not a problem because he is totally committed to our marriage, and is not engaging in personal conversation with her. Since they work together it’s not an option to avoid her completely but some days he says he only has to say a couple of sentences to her to get his job done. It is not an option to quit his job. My question is will healing not be able to occur in our marriage unless he quits his job & thus is able to cut all contact w/her? Is there any possibility of repairing our marriage when he still has contact with her? What can he do if he is still working with her? Thank-you!

  26. After 35 years of marriage I found out in July of this year my husband was having an emotional affair that started in March of this year. Even though he admitted he does have inappropriate feelings for her it hadn’t come to the point where they both verbally expressed feelings for each other. He has expressed great remorse, and is doing all he can to rebuild trust. My deep concern is he still sees her at work, & I get very anxious every day when he’s at work. He feels it’s not a problem because he is totally committed to our marriage, and is not engaging in personal conversation with her. Since they work together it’s not an option to avoid her completely but some days he says he only has to say a couple of sentences to her to get his job done. It is not an option to quit his job. My question is will healing not be able to occur in our marriage unless he quits his job & thus is able to cut all contact w/her? Is there any possibility of repairing our marriage when he still has contact with her? What can he do if he still works with her?

  27. Hey Jane, thanks for reaching out. Emotional affairs are very difficult, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. The sort answer is Yes, many (most, actually!) couples CAN work through this kind of thing… but not usually without considerable support from a great marriage counselor who has experience in helping couples heal from infidelity.

    Jane, there are a lot of therapists out there who offer couples counseling who do not have specific training and experience in this area, and it really makes a bit difference. I didn’t hear in your story whether you were in marriage counseling to repair your trust after infidelity. If you aren’t, it’s really essential that you do. Without professional support, many couples spiral more deeply down into a cycle of anger / anxiety / defensiveness that can be really difficult to dig out from. Please look for a MFT (marriage and family therapist) who has experience with this. It’s a hard road but absolutely doable, with the right support.

    If you’d like to connect with any of the marriage and family therapists on the Growing Self team, here’s the link to schedule a free consultation: http://www.growingself.as.me. You and your husband can meet with a competent, experienced, highly trained couples counselor and see if it feels like a good fit to do this work together.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Lisa Marie Bobby

  28. Kristin, have you two done any marriage counseling around this issue specifically? Most couples need professional support to work through the pain and anger (and shame, and guilt, and defensiveness) that are inevitable in these situations. It can feel challenging to confront these feelings directly, but if you have healing experiences and you and your husband learn how to manage these intrusive thoughts together, you CAN get past this. I hope you get the support you deserve!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  29. Hello, Listening to your podcast and reading some of the comments has only refreshed old wounds for me. I began a long distance relationship with a woman from another country that I met online after posting a comment about how close I was to taking my own life. We had been communicating on the phone for a long time (a little over a year) until we found Skype. After a heated argument one night on Skype we didn’t talk for about 10 days. I tried to communicate with her, but soon found out that she had “blocked” me on social media sites as well as her phone, text everything. Shortly after the ten days were up she allowed me to contact her on Skype again where she told me that since she hadn’t heard from me during those ten days she felt that our relationship was over. In that same conversation she had told me that she had just gone out with a guy that same night for “coffee”. I was devastated because she means the world to me. It has very difficult for me to continue on with her since her revelation, but we managed to keep going. Because of the great geographical distance between us and subsequent arguments that we’ve had, it’s hard for me to believe her at times when I ask her what she’s been up to, especially after an argument. We talk every night on Skype for hours. Because of the great deal of pain I’ve felt I just want to forget about what I view as her infidelity. She has said that she doesn’t consider her date to be a case of infidelity because I didn’t contact her during those ten days!! When I asked her why she didn’t contact me to see if we were really through before going pout on a date with someone she hasn’t been able to give me an answer. Please I need help or advice badly because I love this woman and even though she has done what I consider to be unfaithful, I still love her very much. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

  30. Dear John,

    I’m reading a number of things between the lines here that seem pretty important: One is that you may have an even greater need than most people to be in a reliable, emotionally-safe, and secure-feeling relationship…. and this relationship is not that. Two: You mention early in your post that you struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings, Three: that you are deeply in love and consider yourself to be in a committed relationship with someone you’ve never met in person. (At least not that you mentioned in the info you provided here).

    I think that if your goal is to be in a stable, committed, and healthy relationship, the most important thing for you to do right now is get involved with a great, local therapist who can explore things like your attachment style, help you develop skills and strategies to manage the intense feelings you have, and who can support you as you evaluate for yourself whether this particular relationship is a good choice for you long term, given the obstacles and limitations you describe. In particular, you may potentially benefit from working with a therapist who practices an evidence based form of cognitive behavioral therapy called “DBT” that emphasizes mindfulness skills and communication.

    I would start by Googling “CBT therapy near me” or “DBT therapy near me” and see if any good local providers pop up. You can also use Psychology Today to vet therapists in your area. Another resource to support your journey of growth here is a podcast I did not to long ago about Attachment Styles in Relationships, which may be interesting to you. I hope you check it out, and that you bring some of those ideas to the table in your work with your therapist.

    In the meantime if you have ANY suicidal thoughts or feelings please reach out immediately to the suicide hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They have trained, caring counselors available to speak with you 24/7.

    Wishing you all the best John…
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  31. I have a question I have not seen addressed. I was the unfaithful partner. After cutting all ties to the other person and fully committing to the marriage we started spending time together and talking about rebuilding our marriage. Shortly after this, she went home with a random guy from the bar and had sex with him. She was also flirting with another guy which she lied about. We continued working on our marriage, but she continued communicating with both even while we were engaged in counseling. After several arguments about this, she agreed to cut ties with both. She insists she did nothing wrong, and insists on complete privacy, both for what she did during that time, and indefinitely. While I understand a greater need for complete openness and honesty from me, which I am and have been giving, and that she may not be ready yet, this also causes trust issues moving forward. How important is it for both partners to be forthcoming, open, and honest to truly rebuild?

  32. I recently learned of my husbands infidelity. Can you fix and build a better relationship at home on your own? With help of blogs, books, podcasts, at home worksheets, and of course open communication. I can’t really afford the cost of therapy right now. Thank you.

  33. Monique, I’m so sorry to hear this. You can certainly help yourself to all the resources for healing from infidelity here on the Growing Self blog and podcast, and I’m sure there are books out there too.

    However, in my professional opinion, healing from infidelity is incredibly difficult work for most couples. It can absolutely be done, but the path forward is challenging and — just like a broken bone that’s not set correctly — this experience can create lasting damage that becomes layered and more difficult to repair going forward.

    It’s also true that with the right support, your two can come out the other side of this stronger than ever before. I do understand that high quality, effective marriage counseling is an investment of time and energy, as well as money. But if you’re thinking about this in terms of dollars and cents, I would also urge you to consider the cost (financial, as well as emotional and material) of NOT getting meaningful help.

    For example, think about what you might wind up paying a divorce lawyer, realtor, or the cost of a single-parent situation if you break up. (Whatever number just popped into your head, at at least one or two zeros to the end of it, to get an accurate estimate).
    For more perspective on how affordable couples therapy really is, consider that even just a month or two of rent / utilities / groceries out on your own is going to cost more than an entire course of excellent couples therapy. In the scheme of your life, the money is peanuts compared to what you’re going to pay (on every level) for not getting help.

    Money is not the same thing as value. We figure out ways to pay for all kinds of things that are more expensive and not nearly as meaningful or important as marriage counseling. (Think about how much you spent on your couch, your TV, or your last weekend away). I hope that you two find a way to prioritize your relationship, and get the help you need to heal and grow back together again.

    I hope this perspective helps you, and I wish you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  34. You are totally correct: You both need to be open, honest, transparent, and courageous in your silliness to take responsibility for your behavior and take ownership for the hurt that it caused. It sounds like your partner is struggling to give you what you need in order to heal. Are you still in couples counseling? If not, it’s time to reconnect with your marriage counselor for support around this! (And if you are in marriage counseling and this is not being appropriately addressed, this is problematic. Tell your couples therapist what you need and ask for their help in getting it.)

    Wishing you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa

  35. I uncovered that my wife was having an emotional affair about 3.5 years ago. It was devastating, but also got us into therapy which helped us to work through some of the underlying problems in our relationship. Generally, our relationship has been better ever since, but there have been some extenuating circumstances that I feel have prevented us from completely moving past the EA.

    First, the EA took place with someone at the fire dept where my wife volunteers pretty soon after she had joined. I felt that asking her to quit the dept, which was a lifelong dream for her, would end up creating resentment that could poison the relationship. The agreement that we eventually came to was that she would stay as a member, but she was not to have anything to do with him outside of what is required to respond to a fire.

    Over the past couple of years, I have found evidence that this agreement wasn’t being completely followed (generic texts, emails, social media search history). Nothing necessarily flirty, but friendlier than what we had agreed upon. I have confronted her on this, and while she minimized the interactions as being benign, she did admit that she still has feelings for him from time to time.

    It’s been almost 4 years, and I’m not sure how to take the final steps to work this out so I can finally experience the emotional safety that I’m looking for.

    Thank you for your podcasts, as it has been a huge help in understanding my feelings and situation.

  36. Dan, thanks for sharing this. I agree, it’s really hard to rebuild trust with someone who is not keeping their commitments to you, nor holding strong boundaries. Have you guys worked on this with a qualified marriage counselor? If not, I hope you do. There is still a lot of “unfinished business” here, and you’re not getting what you need. It is also true that when trust has been broken you will always feel somewhat hypervigiliant and fragile in situations like this one, and that’s normal. But although it won’t go away, it is the shared responsibility of you and your wife to manage it together — meaning that she needs to understand, have empathy for, and be responsive to your emotional trauma here. I do hope you get connected with a good MFT who can help guide you through this process.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Lisa

  37. Hi Dr Lisa! I am a longtime listener of your podcast. I am the partner who had the affair, about a year ago for 6 months (disclosed 8 months ago shortly after it ended). I work at the same hospital as my affair partner and we do cross paths from time to time. He broke it off with me to date someone who was actually available but I was super heartbroken because I thought I was going to change my whole life and we were going to be together. I did read your book exaholics to try to get over him.
    I have been with my husband for 20 years and we have 2 small children, a house, a dog and an entire life together.
    This has been the hardest year of my life. There was several REALLY horrible nights after the disclosure and when more lies came out to light later. My husband wants to stay together and will do anything not to lose me. We are working through our trust issues with a couples therapist (my husband is also an MFT therapist) and we have our own individual therapists too.
    I know you can’t really tell me much over the comments section but I really feel trapped. I am unsure how much I want to be in this marriage but I know it is best for my girls and my husband will not let me go. How can I be happy with my life again? I am finally starting to let go of my fantasy life with my affair partner.

    1. Hi Emma, thank you so much for sharing your story, and for others out there who I’m sure can relate, as the one who had the affair. It sounds like you are taking all the right steps, both in recovering from the breakup, and in getting clarity around if your marriage can be fixed, and if you want (and need) to stay or go. I’m so glad to hear that you are getting support by working with a therapist! Discernment counseling can help you gain this clarity – and discuss this difficult question of to stay or go in front of and with him, with the mediation of an expert. It just so happens I also recently presented a free webinar on divorcing with clarity and confidence. You can read it, or watch the video.There will be another webinar on 9/14 on “How to Thrive After Divorce,” as well, which might help you see the future with more clarity. My best to you, xoxo, Lisa

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