The long road to recovery
by Peggy Vaughan
As I've said many times, there are two completely different kinds of recovery: there's "recovering the marriage" and then there's personally recovering from the emotional impact of the experience - whether or not the marriage continues.
So let's look at what's involved in each of the two kinds of recovery:
Regarding "personal recovery:"
I have never known anyone (including myself) who completely recovered from the emotional impact in less than 2 years. And, of course, that time is not "magic" in that recovery may never happen if effective steps are not taken. It requires getting a great deal of information and understanding about affairs in general. And even then, there's still a gap between intellectually understanding it and emotionally integrating the new reality into your life and your sense of yourself in order to fully recover. This is one reason why it takes so long.
Regarding "recovering the marriage:"
It's a process that happens slowly over time - IF the proper steps are taken. The first step is severing contact with the third party, which can be done quickly. But the other steps take a lot of time and effort. This involves answering questions and thoroughly discussing the whole situation. (When an affair is not fully dealt with, it just gets buried alive and leads to an emotional distance that lasts forever.) With this perspective, it may be a little easier to take the necessary time to do the work to overcome the distance and rebuild trust - which, if it happens at all, is likely to take at least 2 to 3 years.
While it may feel discouraging to think about how long it takes to recover, it's actually beneficial to know this in advance. Knowing up front that this is a long process can actually help diminish the frustration and disappointment that comes from holding an unrealistic hope/expectation that it should happen more quickly. There is a great deal more about these issues in my books and articles - but I hope this overview helps in coming to grips with the reality of the very long road to recovery.
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