Marriage Counseling Self-help

How To Recover From Infidelity by a Top Professional Who Knows What He is Talking About [5 steps to recovery for the cheater and victim]

abe kass

Abe has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families for twenty-five-plus years. When it comes to relationship expertise — Abe is the real deal and can be trusted!

abe kassProfessional Therapist Abe Kass MA RSW RMFT

Abe has helped thousands of individuals, couples, and families for twenty-five-plus years. When it comes to relationship expertise — Abe is the real deal and can be trusted!

Three reasons couples fail to recover from infidelity

5 Infidelity Recovery Criteria Required of the Cheater and the Victim

Infidelity recovery is possible. In fact, when infidelity recovery is handled properly, in many cases, the couple can rebuild their relationship to be even better than it was before cheating broke them apart.

However, infidelity recovery is not guaranteed and must be handled carefully. 

There are three reasons couples fail to reconcile and rebuild their broken relationship. They are:

1. Unforgiving, the couple separates. They do not make the effort to learn how to recover from infidelity. They chose not to do the work needed to rebuild their broken relationship, so they separated.

If the family has children, separation and divorce for them is a disaster. Often, the children are forced to choose sides, and they end up with two homes having stepparents who they do not like and often do not like them.

When a family breaks in two, the resulting pain, disappointment, anger, post-traumatic stress, and legal and financial challenges often remain for many many years.

2. Broken and resentful, the couple stays together. The couple doesn’t rebuild their relationship and move on from the pain and confusion that infidelity has brought them.

Rather, they stay together, yet they remain divided because of the tragic event where one partner has betrayed the other. They do nothing to reconcile. They are not interested in learning how to recover from adultery.

They remain emotionally polarized, and neither trusts the other. In misery, they stay together until, “Death do us part.”

A variation of this is when some couples try to solve their infidelity problems on their own.

However, they are ill-equipped, lacking the professional insight and skills needed to recover from infidelity and the emotional objectivity and strength to endure the tremendous emotional turmoil that irrupts when the cheating is discovered.

In spite of their best efforts, having not learned how to recover from adultery, these couples remain mistrustful and angry with one another.

3. Professional therapy does not work. Some couples seek the help of a professional therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

However, not every mental health professional knows how to recover from infidelity and provide effective infidelity recovery treatment. They mean well, but they do not have the resources needed to help a wounded couple with their infidelity recovery journey.

Some professionals even suggest that each individual find their own private therapist as a way of dealing with infidelity. This will never work and has demonstrated time and again how some members of the mental health community do not understand how to help a couple devastated by cheating.

Infidelity recovery is a very specialized therapeutic treatment. The professional therapist must be highly skilled in working with relationships, have experience helping couples handle infidelity challenges, and be willing to care enough to support the couple through their very difficult journey.

Knowing how to recover from infidelity is a specialized subset of couple and marriage therapy. Potential relationship doctors need to be carefully questioned regarding their knowledge and skill in helping a couple recover from infidelity before hiring them.

How to recover from infidelity: The 5 Essential Personal Steps Required by The Cheating Partner

1. Frequency. A single infidelity betrayal or a pattern of betrayal?

A partner who commits adultery ‘one time’ and is prepared to do whatever it takes to rectify the damage he or she has caused has the potential to become a person who will never betray again. A person who learns from his or her mistakes is capable of being a person of good character and of being loyal in the future.

However, a serial philanderer, someone who has never learned to restrain his or her behavior, can not be trusted.

With a serial philanderer, recovering is impossible for the simple reason that they can never be trusted not to cheat again. Repetitive cheating — for whatever reason — is proof that participating in reconciliation is only an effort to manipulate the victim into accepting past cheating in spite of the likelihood of ongoing or future cheating. 

There is a saying, ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The Takeaway: If the partner cheated one time and they meet the additional requirements below, it is possible to reconcile and rebuild your relationship.

2. Remorse. Does the cheating partner regret their philandering or do they justify it?

A partner who cheated must be remorseful. He or she must feel this way if they are to take responsibility for their bad behavior.

In contrast to this, if the cheating partner feels that what they did can be justified, then he or she is not a candidate for reconciliation. 

If the cheating partner justifies or blames, they are not a candidate for relationship recovery. Justification or blaming will only lead to future excuses for perhaps another act of betrayal.

They take away: The cheating partner must acknowledge that what they did was wrong and that it was solely their decision to cheat.

3. Feelings. Victim empathy or victim indifference and callousness?

Cheating is an emotional assault on one’s partner. And naturally, the victim — the cheating partner’s legitimate partner — is devastated. 

It is essential to recovery that the betrayer, the perpetrator of the injury, empathizes with the suffering of his or her partner. If he or she cannot do this, they are likely to betray again as they cannot emotionally comprehend the devastation they have caused.

Most individuals do not hurt others because they too are pained when another is pained. This is a function of empathy. A cheater who cannot empathize is not a candidate for reconciliation.

The Takeaway: Does the cheating partner empathize with the victim? If not, he or she is not a candidate for reconciliation.

4. Honesty. Currently truthful or currently deceitful?

Integrity is a necessary ingredient to relationship fitness. A person who habitually lies and thinks nothing of it, and when caught lying covers it with another lie, simply does not have the necessary positive character trait to contribute to a healthy and stable relationship.

When the cheating was occurring, certainly it was kept a secret via many lies. However, part of the recovery process is to regret the lies and commit to telling the truth going forward.

Partnering with a person that is a habitual liar will only lead to disappointment and heartbreak.

The takeaway: Even though the betraying partner has lied in the past, currently, based on one’s best judgment, he or she is truthful now and will continue to be in the future.

5. Attitude. Humble or arrogant?

Recovering from infidelity is not easy, and the cheater will often find himself or herself in the ‘hot seat’ having to admit his or her guilt and repeatedly have to go over the details of the affair. This position is naturally uncomfortable and difficult. Nevertheless, it is necessary for relationship healing, recovery, and rebuilding.

Only the humble can succeed with this complex, arduous, and difficult relationship feat. An arrogant person will never endure the relationship recovery journey. He or she is too conceited to acknowledge the shortcomings in his or her character. He or she will attack when their imperfections and behavioral failings are pointed out by someone else.

An arrogant person cannot contribute to his or her partner’s recovery because they can only view themselves as important. 

The Takeaway: The perpetrator of infidelity must be willing to acknowledge his or her bad behavior. This takes a lot of humility. If humility is not part of the cheating partner’s repertoire, then full recovery is questionable.

Full infidelity recovery is only assured when the cheater meets all the above five recovery requirements. If he or she is lacking any one of the 5, then there can be no infidelity recovery until the cheater undergoes the personal growth needed to be a genuine recovery candidate.

How to recover from infidelity: The 5 Essential Personal Steps Required by The Victim Of Infidelity

1. Decision. Willingness to explore reconciliation or continual refusal to explore reconciliation?

The victim has been terribly injured by his or her cheating partner. Trust, safety, dignity, comfort, and more have all been sacrificed on the altar of infidelity.

Often, victims do not want to recover from infidelity for many different reasons.

On the other hand, for many different reasons as well, many victims of infidelity do want to recover and maintain their relationship with their betraying partner and keep their family together.

It is natural for many victims to be ambivalent and uncertain regarding what they should do. 

If there is to be relationship reconciliation, the victim has to make a decision to try to rebuild The relationship.

The Takeaway: Infidelity recovery and relationship reconciliation require the participation and effort of both parties.

2. Reaction. Willingness to take responsibility for one’s reaction or just blame the cheating partner?

Yes, the ‘victim’ is a victim. However, in addition to being the victim, the person injured by their straying partner must take a reasonable position and acknowledge that his or her reaction to the hated event — the cheating — influences the current relationship dynamics and what will happen in the future.

In other words, some reactions to infidelity are reasonable and constructive, and some are not.

Knowing how to recover from a cheating spouse or partner it’s not easy and mistakes will be made. Nevertheless, the victim needs to acknowledge that he or she can choose to some extent what his or her reactions will be. Without this, there can be a reaction of never-ending anger, blaming, and additional bad behavior, which will certainly doom the relationship to failure — two wrongs don’t make a right!

The Takeaway: It takes only one person to cheat, but it takes two people to recover from cheating. Often, the victim of infidelity needs lots of support and guidance on how to recover from a cheating spouse or partner.

3. Forgiveness. Willingness to consider forgiveness or never-ending damnation of the cheater

At some point in the relationship recovery process, the victim needs to recognize that forgiveness is a goal worth striving towards and that true forgiveness with a full heart is a valued gift.

After all, when infidelity recovery is genuinely successful, revenge, anger, and devastation must transform to trust, love, and friendship. This can only occur when forgiveness has been earned by the philanderer and willingly bestowed upon him or her by the betrayed partner.

After the recovery process has been completed, the cheater must be fully returned to an honorable and respected position within the relationship and his or her family.

The Takeaway: Forgiveness is an essential component of how to recover from infidelity.

4. Recognizing the needs of others. Willingness to consider the needs of each family member or only his or her entitlements?

When trying to decide how to respond to a cheating partner, it is necessary to take into consideration the needs and interests of other family members, such as one’s children, and in a limited way, even the needs of the betrayer.

Considering the needs of each family member does not mean in any way that the betrayal is to be swept under the rug or just forgotten. Not at all. Considering the needs of others will help set goals and motivate future efforts, whatever they may be.

The Takeaway: Infidelity has many victims. And how it plays itself out once it’s discovered either reduces victimization or increases it for the many people affected.

5. Open-minded. Willingness to consider the broad context in which the cheating occurred or a single black-and-white view of the infidelity event?

Infidelity is only a single aspect of a marriage or committed relationship. Many other relationship dynamics should also be taken into consideration when a couple is on the road to infidelity reconciliation and recovery.

Naturally, when the scope of the betrayal falls upon the relationship, the betrayed partner is shocked and overwhelmed and must attend to his or her emotional wounds.

However, at some point, the victim needs also to consider the needs of the cheating partner and the circumstances in which they committed their acts of betrayal.

Acknowledging the needs of the cheater does not in any way diminish their responsibility for their betrayal. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that even the betraying partner has a legitimate position within the relationship now and in the future along with the victim.

The Takeaway: After the initial stages of infidelity recovery have been achieved, a broader view of the relationship as a whole needs to be examined, and when called for, relationship improvements should be made. Efforts to improve the relationship should come not only from the perpetrator of infidelity but also from the victim.

In concluding this discussion on how to recover from cheating

Infidelity is a shared experience. It is not at all like the impression that is conveyed by the infamous saying, ‘What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.’ No, it does not stay in Las Vegas! Infidelity exposed is a shared experience by everyone in the family.

 Both the betrayer and the betrayed need to work hard if they are to reconcile and recover from the event of infidelity.

As well, sometimes children have to also play a part in the family’s recovery from infidelity, especially when they are older, and they become knowledgeable about what has happened between their parents.

Infidelity reconciliation and recovery is certainly possible. Surprisingly, many couples actually rebuild their relationship and it becomes better than they had ever imagined it could be. To do this requires ‘hard work’ together and’ smart work.’

 A skilled mental health professional is highly recommended to help navigate the details of how to recover from cheating. Just as a person would seek out an orthopedic surgeon to help with a broken bone, anyone in a marriage or committed relationship shattered by infidelity should also be set right by a caring and skilled relationship clinician.

If you were struggling to recover from infidelity, I wish you the best and hope you succeed,

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11 months ago

Hi Abe
I found out my husband had an affair with a client of his for 27 months. It took place weekly at his office. He had ended the affair and then I found out on my own. Does this fit the category of a “serial philanderer?” Or not because it was with 1 person yet multiple times.

We have been seeing a therapist for couples therapy as well as both individually. My husband was severely physically abused as a child until he was 12 by his parents, mostly his Dad. Thus the stages of development were not secured and he grew up with unresolved trauma despite his attempts to reconcile with his parents in adulthood.

He takes full responsibility for the affair and is remorseful for his choice as well as the experience of the affair.

His emotional needs were not being met in our marriage of nearly 6 years (my 2nd,his 3rd) and he was competing for my attention. I have 3 teenage kids and he wanted me to put him first even though he wasn’t acting like a respectful parent to my kids. He built up resentments to my kids’ struggles and took their poor choices personally, thus stating he saw their struggles as burdens he didn’t ask for.

He avoids conflict. He is a controller of all information, deciding what i need to know and don’t as well what he considers to ne a lie or not. He is black & white except when it comes to his own behavior… then he gives himself a lot of slack. Noone else in the family gets this sort of relaxed approach. He has deceived me of truths for years so he is not hassled.
He is a people pleaser which is where his value is determined. So his whole career has been part of his survival of his abuse & unresolved conflict. His clients give him the praise & adoration that he so needs and fills a void in his heart. Some clients are over the top appreciative and adore him, much like a teacher’s pet. Thus creating loyalty to the wrong people, his clients over his family.

I basically married a 12-year old and didn’t realize the depths of his trauma and what that ultimately meant for our marriage & kids.

8 months ago

Hi Abe
I have cheated on my husband with one person for almost two years. I never thought I would have ever found myself in this position. I remembered my initial thought just before making the decision, was ‘why shouldn’t I, he does what he wants anyway’. My husband found out and was devastated by it. I too was hurt but I haven’t been able to truly sort my feeling.

He refuses for us to seek professional help. He doesn’t trust me and rightfully so but I haven’t been able to sort through my hurt or pain. I actually feel like I am spending most of my time making amends and it is making me a bit resentful. I feel like I need to escape his pain to breathe a bit. I am not sure how to cope with all this. I know I should be remorseful and prepare to make amends as the offending party. To deal with the affects of the affair, I compartmentalized my activities with him. I give him what he needs because he asks, whether I agree or not just to make him comfortable and off my back. I know I sound rough, but I don’t want to argue and fight with him at this stage, which happens every week and always for something he disapproves of..

As for the other party, the affair was off and on, honestly I am not even sure why the affair lasted so long as it did. I just had this burning desire for this other person to want me, love me, crave me., so I felt like I couldn’t tell him no, I did not want to tell him no. My husband is constantly asking for me to explain myself and I can’t. He is also asking for details and I honestly detest it, I know I should be open but how much is too much. Every time I answer his questions I feel it takes us back to day one.
I am stuck and numb.

Last edited 8 months ago by yanz