A spouse's affair can leave you feeling broken.

Steps to Heal From a Cheating Spouse

by Rachel Adame Anderson

A spouse's infidelity is devastating. When your partner cheats, the trust that forms the backbone of your relationship is broken, and the injured spouse often feels angry, betrayed, and humiliated. Coming to terms with these feelings and recovering your sense of equilibrium takes time. Whether you and your spouse decide to try and work on your marriage or to end it, there are steps you can take to begin to heal yourself.

Look to Your Basic Needs

Nurture yourself. When you're dealing with the blow of an extramarital affair, your physical well-being can suffer. In her article, "A Brief Guide to Recovering From an Affair," relationship expert Peggy Vaughan explains that physical trauma can accompany the emotional devastation after a spouse's infidelity. "Focusing first on taking care of the basic survival needs: nutrition, exercise, stress-reduction" is essential to the recovery process. Treat yourself as if you are recovering from an illness -- in a sense, you are.

Clear the air. Discuss the factors in your relationship that may have led to the infidelity. Looking back, you could have missed warning signs that your spouse was about to stray. Have a frank discussion about the motivation to cheat and how the affair developed. While full disclosure is important, avoid asking for potentially painful details. According to clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, negative images may stay with you and deepen your trauma.

Talk about it. Accept what has happened to you, and allow yourself to express your feelings to someone you trust. Vaughn advises against allowing a spouse's affair to become a burden that you "carry forever." Seek out people who will listen to you without trying to offer unsolicited advice.


  • It takes time to rebuild your self-esteem after a spouse is unfaithful. Avoid blaming yourself for your partner's actions. Above all, remain firm in the belief that you will recover and be stronger for the experience.

About the Author

Rachel Anderson has been writing professionally since 1997, and has been an educator and curriculum developer for 13 years. She is currently a literacy instruction coach and AP English literature and composition teacher. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and comparative literature from Columbia University and a Master of Education in educational leadership from the University of North Texas.

Photo Credits

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