Discussion: What Stage of the Affair Recovery Process are You In at Present?

The 5 stages of affair recovery

Whether you just found out about the affair or you are much further along in your recovery process, you have something in common…

…You’d like things to get better and move closer to complete recovery, healing and a thriving marriage we all want.

The first step is really understanding where you’re at currently.

Take a few minutes to think which of the 5 Stages of affair recovery you are in right now, and please share in the comment section below the post.

Here are the 5 Stages of Affair Recovery:

Stage 1 – Trauma & Crisis

This is the stage right after the affair has been disclosed or discovered.  More commonly known as D-day. This is a period of numbness, shock, anger and overwhelming grief.  The couple and the marriage are in crisis.  Neither the hurt spouse or the unfaithful spouse can think clearly. 

Stage 2 – Stabilization

In this stage, the heightened emotions of D-day have settled down a bit and the couple is starting to look at and deal with the core issues that led to the affair.  There is still an emotional roller coaster and often there are many emotionally charged arguments.  This is often the stage where an attempt by the hurt spouse to further understand the affair and all the details occurs. 

Stage 3 – Dealing with the Issues

In this stage the couple has worked through much of the emotions and have survived the initial marital crisis.  The couple is now ready to begin the hard work of healing the marriage and dealing with the myriad of core issues.  Once again, this can be a frustrating time as there will be many ups and downs and progress may seem to crawl at a snail’s pace.  During this phase the hurt spouse’s self-confidence slowly starts to return and she or he may start to feel more secure.

Stage 4 – Working Together

After a while, consistency will return to the relationship which in turn, allows trust to also return (though maybe not quite 100%). The couple will have a sense of cooperation and work together as they continue to rebuild the marriage.  The affair is rarely discussed and most of the focus is on moving forward. There still may be some painful days and triggers may be a semi-frequent issue for the hurt spouse.

Stage 5 – Connection and Intimacy

This stage is where the couple attempts to take things to the next level by working to develop a deeper connection and level of intimacy with each other.  The memory of the affair is certainly still there, but there is little to no pain associated with the memories.  Each party has done the work to understand who they are and what they need.  There is improvement in communication and conflict resolution skills.  The couple understand each other’s emotional needs.

When you read these summaries, you may feel like you’re doing pretty well…or maybe you’re frustrated by your current situation.

The GREAT news is that you can absolutely move up to higher stages. Whether you’re starting at Stage 1 or Stage 4, the important thing is getting to that next step of your journey toward affair recovery.

We’d love to hear from you personally on this!  Please take a few minutes and tell us which stage you’re in currently, what you’re experiencing and anything else you’d like to share.


Linda & Doug



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11 Responses to Discussion: What Stage of the Affair Recovery Process are You In at Present?

  1. Shifting Impressions February 14, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

    What stage am I at??? That’s a good question. The answer for me is not all that black and white….. we sort of shift back and forth between stages.

    After three years I would say we are somewhere between stage three and four. At this point in time, stage five seems like a bit of a pipe dream to me. Although the triggers and pain have lessened I think it’s probably still the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. The sorrow and grief, although not near as sharp as they once were, are still there.

    But I can honestly say we are still moving forward……slowly, but forward nevertheless.

  2. Patsy50 February 15, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    I’m at stage 5. It was six years ago for Dday. There isn’t pain anymore when I look back but a sadness at how my marriage got to be where it was at that place and time. Don’t have the need to ask or know any more why’s. The EA will never be forgotten and shouldn’t be. We are in a good place now.

  3. Mike February 15, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    After finding out about my wife’s one night stand back in late 2010 we have made it to stage 5 in the past year. She has discussed the disclosure and both of us have read Peggy Vaughan’s book “The Monogamy Myth” and processed the issues and has proven her loyalty to to our marriage. Our relatioship is better now then it has ever been!

    • TheFirstWife February 16, 2017 at 6:15 am #

      Mike. Thanks for sharing. Do you think it was different for you b/c it was once and not an on-going affair with deep emotion involved?

      • Mike February 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm #

        The pain was overwhelming to say the least. It actually started in the early 2000s when I would find nude pictures, emails to other men and horrible pictures that was just overwhelming to me. I was on a infidelity online chatroom for several months and the moderator said that it was probably more than what I uncovered and I was in denial. Around 2002 I found a text where the OP wanted to meet for a quickie but according to my wife she backed out. After this things went back to normal and we went to counseling and worked things out and got better.

        Fast forward toward the end of 2010 when my wife was at the doctor I was on the computer and saw an instant message come on screen and started texting me, thinking he was talking to my wife. That’s when I realized she did have a physical relationship with this man, and that’s when my whole world imploded. I didn’t discuss this with her a couple days until I confronted her on it. She said that it was a one time deal and said she felt like sh*t afterward.

        She stated that she has not talked to him since. She has gone the extra mile in rebuilding trust and am sure it is all behind us now. It might have been more traumatic had it been an ongoing affair but just the thought of her having a physical relationship with another man took me over the edge. I’m just glad it is behind us now and can move on without the pain. I hope this helps.

  4. Puzzled February 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    I would consider us enmeshed between Stages 4 & 5. We are continuing to build and repair. There still are triggers/memories for me of her choices/actions. I still hurt from the things that she said to me and how I was treated. However, those sad issues don’t dominate my thoughts. They simply “pop up” at times. I’m miles from where I was two years ago and even one year ago. This journey is hard but I really feel we will be better because we did not give up. I told my wife a long time ago- “the easy thing is quitting and giving up. The hard part is saying that we are worth it and will fight for us”. Although it took her a long while to get out of her fog, she’s working hard with me to make a more centered marriage- emotionally, spiritually, physically. I’m sure that the memories will never go away but I’m certain they will continue to fade. Her choices and her affair are a part of the fabric of our marriage. They are woven into the pattern. But the pattern is pretty complex so, eventually, they will blend in with the rest of it- all part of our life together.

  5. Hope Eternal February 17, 2017 at 7:01 am #

    I’m definitely still in stage 1 – Trauma and Crisis. D-Day was 13 Feb. I uncovered my spouse’s EA by sheer fluke on an old email trail. After confronting him I got the “we’re just good friends” nonsense but I had the proof and he didn’t realise that. Even when I pointed it out, he then denied the seriousness of it. Slowly over a period of 3 days, admitting more and more details, the lies and deceit have astounded me. It’s like peeling an onion. More layers every day and each one make me cry.

    This was my husband of 20 years – who I thought I knew inside-out. The full-on EA actually finished over 10 months ago (they both called it off before it became sexual knowing that a full relationship was impractical due to living locations and our respective family situations) but it nonetheless consisted of 6 months of secret lunches/drinks/coffees outside of work and constant texts repeated & lying. They kissed passionately a few times he has told me but not more. I believe that he became infactuated with her – I don’t call it love (that would be too painful)….but although they decided to pull back after 6 months and no longer meeting up, they were still texting each other 2/3 times a week until I found out this week – nearly a year later. Those messages weren’t flirtatious or explicit but continuing the contact and trying to row back to being “normal friends” in my view was dangerous and a fallacy.

    I asked him to immediately disengage from her – which he has done but I can see he’s sad about it.

    I know he didn’t seek it out – we had been having marital difficulties (drifting apart) for several years and she met his emotional needs i guess. The only problem there though is that it made our marriage worse because he was emotionally unavailable for me! It stopped us trying to sort our own problems out.

    We finally got round to talking honestly about our marriage in December last year and we resolved to try and make it work. I had no inkling at the time about the EA. We had been doing brilliantly until Feb 13…when I discovered the dodgy emails. Now I feel angry that he never told me in December (when I specifically asked if there was a 3rd party) and that it’s put us back so far 🙁

    Despite everything I love him and I want our marriage to survive. I can see he does too. I’m not sure though that he really understands the pain he’s caused. It’s horrific, physical, searing pain like I’ve never known. I can’t imagine ever being able to trust him again and for me that was always my “red line”. Funny that now I’m in this situation it’s not so easy!

  6. Hopeful February 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm #

    This is timely. We are coming up on 2 years since dday 1. I would say we have been solid in stage 4 for a long time. But recently, the past few days, we have moved to stage 5. I did not really know when and how we would get to this stage. I do feel that it will always be part of our marriage but at this point we use it as a talking point and a topic that we address related to our current reality. At this point I feel he is more affected and hurt by what he did. I will never forget but it sits with him more. Moving forward I know for both of us it is a priority to put in the most effort into our marriage and not lose sight of what happened.

    • Hope Eternal February 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

      Hopeful – This is heartening indeed to hear after only being 5 days into my own nightmare. I wish that I could fast forward time….2 years seems like a long time for me right now. Interesting that he’s affected more now than before. I think that’s a really good thing.

      • Hopeful February 19, 2017 at 1:25 am #

        Hope Eternal,

        I am so sorry you are here. None of us would wish it on anyone. It is a really hard place those early days and months. Just remember to take it easy on yourself and to take care of yourself. What you said at the end is so true. I thought I would never tolerate something like this in our marriage. My husband had two affairs over 10 years. One was very sporadic only in person 3-4 times (I actually do not remember what he told me at this point which is a good sign) and sometimes no contact for 6-12 months at a time. The other one was a little more frequent but still sporadic. However he carried on like this for 10 years. Not good. That alone was hard to accept. And we had lots of good times in there. I can see now when he was on edge or moody was probably when the affairs were active and when he would warm up to me was probably while they were not in contact or had not been for a while. No way to know this though. I had asked him through the years if he had any contact with other women of any kind. I am not stupid that this is possible but he said no way absolutely not.

        I think the first step is deciding if you want to try and work this out. It sounds like you do. I just want to say you can only control your decisions and actions. That alone was hard for me to handle. I was the model wife and we had/have a great life together, but that never stopped him from what he did since it was about him and his issues. No matter how thin, pretty, great of a mother, wife… none of it mattered. He is very successful and has been from a young age and continues to be. We worked through the first several months together but after dday 2 he suggested I see a therapist. He is in the mental health field so he was not interested in going with me. But I have chosen not to tell anyone so he thought it would be helpful for me to have that support just for me. This turned out to be a great idea and worked for us. My therapist has been happy how it turned out since they were unsure without my husband’s participation. But it has worked out. I will say my husband has put in major effort and thought every day to get to this point. I think part of our fast (or at least what I consider fast) healing is due to our knowledge from the start. Even though he is the professional after being married so long being there during his education and training I know a lot. But I would say at least consider seeing a therapist that specializes in therapy related to betrayal but select one that supports repairing the marriage if possible since that is your goal. They do not all support a woman staying in these situations. I travel what I consider a far distance since I wanted someone who was licensed, with the specific affair/betrayal experience, and lots of years of experience. It has been so worth it!

      • Hopeful February 19, 2017 at 1:41 am #

        I thought I would type this in a separate text…

        I think we all have our own timeline for healing and none of us knows how long it will take. Be patient. Do not put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way by a certain time. We decided early on to discuss the affairs once a week. We picked a time and day each week based on our schedules. This helped us both mentally prepare however we did not talk about it all the time and make it the focus of our entire lives. I would journal usually every day. Sometimes I would write but many times I just wrote lists of questions or letters to my husband. What I found helpful was I would look back over my notes from the week. These helped me see patterns and what was really bothering me. I knew I could not just rant all of my thoughts and questions since that would not be productive in the end. I also found things that bothered me one day I could care less about 3 days later or other things bothered me for weeks and I kept bringing them up. By doing this I made sure to have my thoughts together and I was able to be more concise and feel more resolved at the end of the conversation. I was also less emotional which was helpful in order to be more productive. I would refer to these notes before therapy too.

        The first year was rough. I would say from dday 2 which at 5 months until about 11/12 months was the hardest time. The initial sting was over but it was setting in. This was when we really worked on establishing boundaries. This was crucial. My husband wanted me more than anything to trust him eventually. This was just too hard. The first step was setting boundaries. Let me know if you want to hear more about those.

        After the one year mark we were doing well but then I had feelings of what felt like we were settling back into our old ways. It was summer so he was busier golfing than the first summer since he turned down a lot that summer. Just a lot of things. Nothing bad but it just felt too ordinary. I sat him down and explained that even though things were so much better than pre dday My expectations have elevated and I needed more from him.

        The flip side was once I was really done coping with the worst pain my husband started to reveal how much he had hurt himself. I mean I know these were his decisions etc. But I had the impression if he did these stupid things he must have been having the time of his life. Well that was far from the truth. The first time sounded like a thrill since it was sneaky but then it was a slippery slope and as he said he felt like he could not turn back and he feared I would leave him and take the kids and he would ruin everything. He did end both affairs a year before dday but he just looked at everything so different. He said he hated even seeing his reflection in the mirror for ten years. I mean he was miserable and it showed. He always blamed work stress. Over time we talked a lot about how he felt before, during and after the affairs. This was eye opening.

        I will say my husband is a totally different person now than he even was dday, 6 months after dday too. I think he was in self preservation mode. He told me on dday he had no idea if I would ask him to leave and change locks or who knows what. He said he repressed as much as he could about the affairs since he vowed to not do it ever again. I could go on and on but all I can say is my husband has evolved. He firmly believes it takes 6 months to change behaviors no matter what they are. Even though he had ended his affairs it was a huge shift for him to call me during lunch or text me while out with friends but we established some pretty set boundaries that allowed me to consider the possibility of trusting him again.

        Sorry this is so long. We both feel sad and he I think honestly feels worse than I do at this point that this ever happened. But we both say we are glad it came out. We cannot change the past but we have both made a major effort to save our relationship. It is better than ever on every level. I will never say it is perfect and honestly I have come to grips with the fact this is a part of it forever. It does come up from time to time but in a constructive way.

        One last thing, I can tell my husband is a new person and he is happier than ever but when he told me his biggest priority is to be the best husband and father and to live his life with transparency and honesty at all times. He said he thinks and acts as if I am next to him at all times. He said he loves it and feels better than ever. He said that he was so selfish before but he now realizes that when he considers us as his first priority he is always happier.

        Keep your hope and ask any questions!!

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