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The Healing Library > Articles > Before You Say Reconcile... Recover

Before You Say Reconcile... Recover

Before you can reconcile, you need to first recover the M. Here's a post from healingroad that he created that has helped others here. Hopefully this can be of some help to the newbies as well.

From user healingroad:
My marriage is ending. I've thought long and hard about whether it could have been saved. It's hard to know, but I do have some ideas about what might have worked, both to maximize the chance of saving the M, and preventing any more pain than necessary for either of us.

I've put some of these ideas into a recovery plan that I was working on with my WW. Several earlier versions were in my previous posts. Many of you found it useful, and some said it could be very helpful for others.

I've updated it to try to make it a little more broadly applicable, and would be gratified if we could work on it together and maybe have it as a resource for couples that are trying to save their marriages. It would be nice to think that something (anything!) good could come out of this.

Please take a look, provide comments and suggestions. I'll keep this first post updated to reflect good ideas and feedback.




You have just found out that the person you love has hurt you, probably more than you thought it was possible to feel pain. You are in a state of shock, numbness, confusion, anger, sadness, and a thousand other emotions that swirl around you. Before worrying about the rest of this plan, understand that your spouse has rendered your marriage vows moot. You do not owe them another moment's commitment, so just for now, focus on you.

Take time to calm yourself. Try to sleep. Eat and drink as well as you can. Talk to anyone you think will be helpful. Start therapy or counseling. If you have kids, make sure they're cared for.

Breathe. Let your feelings flow. Cry.

You do not owe your wayward spouse any of the steps outlined in this plan. It will likely take YEARS to fully work through the pain you are facing. It won't be as bad as it is right now, not nearly as bad, but it won't be easy either. And the marriage will never be the same. Ever. If, on reflection, you don't choose this long path it is NOT a failing of yours. It is completely reasonable that, since your life has been torn apart, you might choose a different way forward.

Your wayward spouse may not be willing or able to reconcile. It's unfair, but many people who are capable of having an affair are unable to do the work of reconciliation for the same underlying reasons that they had the affair in the first place. If this is the case for your wayward then you haven't lost anything. Your marriage was already doomed. You are now that much closer to closing this chapter and moving on to a new and better life.

If, after you regain your bearings, you then decide that you are open to the possibility of reconciliation with your spouse, consider the rest of this plan. Offer reconciliation to your spouse ONLY if it is the right thing for YOU (and your children, if you have children). If you do make this choice, know that is a gift from you to your wayward spouse, and not something they should ever take for granted.


You have committed an act of violence on the marriage you pledged to keep dear, and you have abused your spouse -- the one you swore to love -- in the worst way imaginable. You probably followed it up with damaging lies and evasions that have killed any trust between the two of you. Your spouse is hurting now. Hurting more than you assume, and probably more than you can even comprehend.

Despite this, your spouse may choose to offer you a gift: attempted reconciliation. If you are offered this gift, recognize that this is likely the ONE AND ONLY CHANCE you have to save your marriage. If you just play along, if you don't put your whole self into the reconciliation process, then this will constitute another betrayal, and you will almost certainly lose your marriage. It may not die immediately, but half-hearted attempts at reconciliation eventually render marriages "undead": two partners going through the motions, denying the inevitable.

If, after reading this plan, you cannot put your ENTIRE SELF into reconciliation -- if you cannot go ALL IN -- then stop. Admit the truth, end the marriage, and don't subject your betrayed spouse to any more pain.

If you are not offered the gift of reconciliation, understand that this is the result of a choice YOU made. Your affair has destroyed your marriage. Maybe it should have ended anyway, or maybe not. But either way, your affair has now become the reason your marriage is ending, and you have to accept that. Don't ever blame your betrayed spouse for what you did.

If you are offered possible reconciliation, and you are ready and willing to work to earn it, you now have a lot of work ahead of you. You need to take responsibility for undoing as much damage as you can. You must help your betrayed spouse heal. Don't wait for your spouse to act, YOU need to take action. Your main mindset must be focused on what your spouse, yourself, your marriage, and your children (if you have them) need to recover, and you need to maintain this mindset for a very long time. Your spouse will develop a finely-tuned ability to detect insincerity or lack of commitment. Only real effort with you taking the lead will do.


(WS) - Wayward Spouse (had the affair)
(BS) - Betrayed Spouse
(B) - Both
(A) - Affair
(AP) - Affair partner of WS
(IC) - Individual counseling
(M) - Marriage
(MC) - Marriage counseling
(NC) - No-Contact
(R) - Reconciliation


When "Discovery Day" hits, neither the BS nor the WS really has a firm grip on what the right outcome should be. Whether reconciliation or divorce, that conclusion is very far away. If both spouses are open to engaging in the work of R, it is absolutely worth trying to save the M, but there's no way to tell for sure that it will be successful. Both spouses could follow all the steps in this plan to their utmost ability, and still the marriage could end. One or both spouses could look at the other and say, with finality, "I just don't love you any more." That's just a fact about infidelity: despite the excuses the WS may use to permit themselves to stray, it is lethal to marriages.

This is probably going to be the hardest thing either you or your spouse has ever done. Give it your all.

Anything less won't do. Allow no higher priorities in your lives (other than children's or other family members' critical needs). Both of you must reach deep within yourselves to foster healing, emotional transparency, honesty, devotion, and new patterns of communication and conflict management. Failing to confront the problem -- sweeping it under the rug -- will guarantee failure.

It is because the odds are so steep that it's so essential that both spouses, wayward and betrayed, put their very best into working towards reconciliation.


Treat the acute crisis and trauma. Immediately:


Continue stabilization until traumatic phase of A recovery is complete. This may take a long time.

No infidelity (WS)

Continue work on healing as needed by BS (WS)

Disclose all remaining aspects of A (WS)

Committment to truth: (B)

Emotional Health (B)

Electronic transparency (WS)

Workplace Affairs (WS)

Financial transparency (WS)

Create private zones (B)


Expect one of two outcomes:

Earnest attempt to reconcile (B)

Continue work on healing as needed by BS (B)

Empathy (WS first, then B)

Intimacy (B)

Personal growth (B)

Relationship building (B)

Sexual health (B)

Children's issues (B)

~ yearsofpain25

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