Recovery from Affairs
Following is a true story from the Prodigals ministry.
Details have been changed to protect anonymity.
Bill was in management in a large accounting firm. During tax season he worked long hours at the office and was often alone in the office with Joan, one of the female accountants. Chats during breaks turned into meals together after work. Each shared with the other about their frustrations and disappointments with their spouses. Bill began to look forward to these times every day. Despite his Christian beliefs, before long, he felt he had "fallen in love" with Joan. Within a month, his emotional affair had turned into a physical affair that lasted for 6 months.
Racked with guilt, Bill eventually told a Christian friend about his infidelity. With the friend's support, Bill then disclosed the affair to his wife, Marilyn, and to his pastor. Marilyn was devastated. She asked Bill to move out while she sorted out her feelings. Marilyn began working with a Christian counselor to facilitate her own healing. Bill eventually joined a Christ-centered 12 Step group sponsored by Prodigals International and began the process of recovery.
Currently, one year after Bill disclosed the affair to Marilyn, he is back in the home. The two of them are in couples counseling to restore their marriage. Although there are scars from the infidelity that they both will carry for the rest of their lives, Bill and Marilyn are both healing and growing. They have a new honesty in their marriage, and a potential for even greater intimacy than before the affair. They each say they feel closer to God for having gone through the ordeal. Bill and Marilyn received training for beginning a sexual addictions recovery ministry in their home church and are helping others out of the dark valley of sexual sin.
Affairs rip the fabric of a marriage like few crises. Because there has been an emotional betrayal as well as a physical betrayal, recovery is often longer and more difficult; trust is often harder to restore. There are, of course, other kinds of affairs such as one-night stands that don't include a strong emotional component. These are generally easier to recover from, unless there's been a long history of such affairs. In any case, couples must get help in the aftermath of an affair if they hope to save their marriage. Following are suggested steps to recovery, applicable to both kinds of affairs.