The slow, jerky road to recovery
by Peggy Vaughan

It's easy to get discouraged at the slow pace of progress in dealing with an affair. But no one goes through a neat 1, 2, 3 step process. That's just not the way it works. It's more a matter of two steps forward and one step back—with occasional times when it feels like things are right back where they started!

Surviving this jerky road to recovery may be a little easier to bear by understanding that this is absolutely common. And that while at times it may seem hopeless, with consistent effort at working together to deal with it, you can eventually succeed. (For a visual depiction of this process, see the Graph of Recovery on the last page of our handbook, Recovering from Affairs.)

Here's an excerpt from "Beyond Affairs" where I describe the way it felt for me when we were in the middle of this effort:

    "This yo-yo up and down in my ability to cope with his affairs continued to keep me off balance for two or three years. There were times when things would be great and I'd think I was over the hump and had adjusted. Then...Bam! I'd get knocked all the way back down into a depression.

    "I frequently wished I could have amnesia. That seemed to be the only way I could forget the past. Also, I wished for time to pass. I'd always heard that time heals, but I never heard just how much time it takes. I didn't know whether I could last long enough.

    "We spent many, many hours talking about our feelings and trying to get a handle on the whole experience. Little by little it got easier to handle the emotional aspects too...Finally, one day the pain just slipped away when I didn't even notice."

(end of excerpt from Beyond Affairs)

As described above, this entire process took a couple of years, despite both of us making a tremendous effort to do it more quickly. In the final analysis, there are no shortcuts; this issue can not be buried or "gone around;" it just has to be gone through.

While no one would "choose" to go through this; it can, as with many life crises, be used as an opportunity to develop a closer, more honest, more trusting relationship than you ever had before--or than you could have had without doing this kind of joint work in dealing with this issue.

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