Prodigals

For the Spouse

For the Spouse

See the recovery steps described in the article "Recovering From Internet Pornography". Following are additional suggestions specific to recovery from affairs.

1. Find support. We purposely repeat this suggestion here because of its importance. As soon as possible, the spouse should begin meeting with a counselor and a women's support group. The spouse may say, "Why should I see a counselor? I'm not the one with the problem." But we have not yet seen a post-affair marriage make it where the offended spouse declined to seek help for herself/himself. The wounds are just too deep.

2. Educate yourself. Read Marsha Means' book, Living With Your Husband's Secret Wars, or other books written for the spouses of sexual addicts. You'll find a road map out of the valley you're in, as well as stories of other women who've made it.

3. Be prepared for a rocky ride. The first three to six months of the restoration process are very difficult. Both the offending and the offended spouse experience wild fluctuations of emotions from anger and rage to despair and deep depression. We haven't seen full recovery for a post-affair couple to take less than two years, more often longer.

4. Grieve. Matthew 5:4 in The Message version says, "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." Healing is accelerated by grieving the loss of the relationship as it was thought to be. God can rebond a broken relationship after an affair, but the relationship that was, is irretrievably lost.

5. Deepen your relationship with God. If you're not in the habit of spending time daily with God, we'd encourage you to begin such a time. Praying, reading the Bible or other devotional literature will give you the strength to face the months ahead. You might also consider writing simple prayers to God expressing your heart.

6. Ask him to account for his time. While it's not healthy for the marriage for you to become your spouse's primary "accountability partner," it is appropriate to ask that he now account for his time. Ask him to keep in touch with you by phone during the day, and to let you know when he'll be late from work. Your spouse may resist this level of accountability, but it is a legitimate request to help you begin to rebuild trust.

7. Set boundaries. Consider asking him to move out temporarily until he decides to get help. Many spouses have found this to be a powerful motivator for the offending partner to begin counseling or to join a recovery group. You don't have to give in to his sexual demands, either. Restoration of some level of trust and emotional intimacy should precede physical intimacy. In any case, you may not want to resume sexual relations until after he has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

8. Release revenge. While it's completely appropriate for you to feel and express both hurt and anger over the betrayal, avoid being punitive or abusive, either verbally or physically. Forgiveness should be your ultimate goal. To aim for less will poison the rest of your life.