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Debunking 5 Myths about Affair Recovery

Debunking 5 Myths about Affair Recovery

Debunking 5 Myths about Affair Recovery

When it comes to affair recovery, everyone’s got an opinion and there are 5 myths that come up frequently as we care for marriages divided by infidelity. 

During our own healing process, we had at least one person or resource spouting these 5 myths as truth. However, as a healed and thriving marriage fifteen years post-affair revelation, we are living proof that these five myths are just that–myths.

If you are in the midst of affair recovery and you are getting advice and opinions from multiple sources in your life, you’ve probably heard most, if not all, of these myths. They can stall or even halt your affair recovery.

Let’s dive in–so you’ll know what is a lie and what is truth as you heal from an affair. 

Myth 1: "Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater"

To be completely honest with you, this one really bothers me. Many well-meaning people will let this statement roll off their tongue without even a thought as to what it implies. 

This myth implies that people cannot change. Even worse, it supposes that, once you have made a grievous mistake in your life, you will be forever labeled by that mistake. 

If you are a Christian, you can’t believe this to be true. Even if you aren’t a Christian, do you actually believe that people can’t change…ever? And do you truly think that everyone should be labeled by their mistakes–big or small–forever?

Where do repentance and forgiveness fit in with this narrative? They don’t. 

Here’s the truth: Infidelity is a sin against God, yourself, and your spouse. It is not to be taken lightly. And, as a Christian, your identity is in Christ. You are offered grace, mercy, and forgiveness when you confess and turn away from your deceptive life. You absolutely can change, and following God’s guidance is the way to do it.

Please do not believe the lie that once a person cheats, they are destined to always cheat. It’s just not true.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Myth 2: "It's Impossible to Rebuild Trust"

Let’s be real–it may seem as if trust is impossible to rebuild after an affair. Trust can be broken in a flash, but it takes time and effort to rebuild trust. It’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint. But impossible, no. 

Just so we’re clear: love and trust are two different things. Love is a gift given freely without conditions or requirements. Trust is earned by favorable behavior over time. When a betrayal occurs, love may still be there, but trust has been shattered. The only way to gain it back is through time and action. 

Oftentimes, the wayward spouse (the one who had the affair) wants their spouse to trust them again when they only say they are done with the affair. But, your wounded spouse needs you to back up your words with trust-building actions. And not just once, but often over an extended period of time.

Rebuilding trust is totally possible after an affair. But it will require commitment, transparency, humility, action, and time–and it’s so worth it!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Myth 3: "Affair Recovery Means Ignoring the Pain"

Discovering an affair in your marriage can be the most painful thing you have ever experienced. Most people describe it as debilitating grief and deep trauma. As with grief over the loss of a loved one, it can last for a long time and affect your life profoundly.

Unfortunately, many people falsely believe that the only way to get through grief is to ignore the pain or somehow push it out of the way in order to “move on.” This myth that you have to shove aside your pain in order to heal from an affair is completely false. 

We learn this directly from the most famous adulterer, David, in the Bible, who grieves boldly and loudly after being caught in his infidelity and deception. In several of the Psalms written by David (Psalm 51 was written during the aftermath of his infidelity) we hear him crying out to the Lord, clearly experiencing and sharing his pain with the Lord. 

Lament is part of the healing process. We are not meant to “get over” the pain; rather, we need to get through the pain. Ideally, we do this together with our spouse. 

If you are the wayward spouse, please allow your wounded spouse to experience the grief and pain of your betrayal. Be patient and compassionate. Comfort them; resist the urge to rush them through the grief. Instead, sit with them as they lament. Grieve the loss of your old marriage and pray for God to give you a new, healed marriage rooted in Him.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Myth 4: "Seeking Professional Help is a Sign of Failure"

Time and again, we’ve had couples contact us months after the reveal of an affair saying something like this: 

“We thought we could do this on our own, but…” 

“He refuses to go to counseling, but we can’t keep living like this.” 

“She says she’s a private person and won’t talk to anyone about it.”

It seems all of these couples believed the myth that getting help is a sign of failure or weakness. Unfortunately, the chances of recovery from an affair without help are quite slim.

This myth is similar to saying that seeking a doctor’s help after a traumatic skiing accident resulting in broken bones is a sign of failure. As if you could actually fix those broken bones yourself?

It sounds silly in that context, but somehow we believe the lie that seeking help after betrayal trauma is a sign of failure.

Seeking wise counsel from a trusted, Christ-centered resource is wise and courageous. In fact, we believe seeking help reveals strength and integrity. Being willing to admit you need help is a sign of humility, a character trait necessary for a thriving marriage.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Myth 5: "It's a Quick Fix or Nothing"

We live in a world that feeds on instant gratification. We want everything to be fast and easy; convenience over quality, shallow outcomes over lasting results. So, it’s not surprising that many spouses will believe the lie that it’s gotta be a quick fix or nothing at all. After all, shouldn’t affair healing be as easy as grabbing fast food?

Affair recovery is not quick. And it’s not easy. But it is worth it! 

To stick with the food analogy, a fast food dinner on the fly is NOTHING compared to a well-crafted fine dining experience. Sure, fast food is quick, but it is filled with empty calories and leaves you feeling worse than before you ate it. However, a meal created with quality ingredients, patiently marinated and cooked over time, with care and attention to detail is well worth the wait and the cost. This type of meal leaves you feeling satisfied and well-cared for. 

Affair recovery requires patience. And it will cost you; there will be sacrifices made, both in time, effort, and even finances. But the result is lasting; a healed marriage built on the foundation of God’s truth. 

A quick fix is actually not a fix at all.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:4

If you have found yourself believing any of these five myths, take heart; today, you can choose to believe the truth and begin your affair recovery with a renewed hope. Restoring your marriage after betrayal is a journey, one that is best traversed with faith in the God who is able to make all things new. If you’d like to read about our journey, pickup The Journey to Stay today.


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Side By Side guides marriages divided by infidelity to journey from hurt to hope.


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