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Our Affair Recovery Roadmap has 3 main parts:


  • Crisis Management (Step 1)

  • Forgiveness (Steps 2, 3 & 4), and

  • Reconciliation (Step 5, 6 and 7). 


A couple usually finds themselves deep in crisis after the initial disclosure of infidelity. In therapy, we will slow things down and step-by-step walk through each item of our crisis management plan. Your natural tendency may be to address everything at once or to put your head in the sand and hide from it all. We will help you take a deep breath and go take it slowly. After several weeks (no rush) you will begin to you feel like your feet are back on the ground and you are ready to move to Step 2. 


Even after you feel like the craziness has settled down and have been working on your affair recovery for a while, you will find that periods of crisis will reappear throughout the process. That is why we have shown "crisis management" as surrounding everything else in our graphic above. If you are like most couples, you should be prepared to pull out your crisis management tools even after you have been in recovery for months.


Forgiveness and reconciliation are often confused with each other and thus misunderstood. For example, we have heard:

  • “I can't forget what she did so I will never be able to forgive her.”

  • “His apology is not sincere so how can I possibly forgive him?”

  • “How can I forgive if it can happen again?"

  • "I am too scared to leave him so I guess I have to forgive him."

Lewis B. Smedes succinctly explains forgiveness:

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”

Steps 2 to 4 in the Roadmap are set forth the essential steps to forgiveness:

  • Step 2 - Figure out WHAT happened (Getting the Story)

  • Step 3 - Learning WHY it happened (Making Meaning)

  • Step 4 - Experiencing your feelings (EMPATHY) for what happened

With these steps, a partner can make sense of what happened. As humans, we are meaning making machines. We have a powerful urge to understand and find it hard to release intrusive thoughts or feelings without making meaning of them. Also, we as we full experience the feelings, we can let go of the pain and the need to punish.

Although it is easier to take these steps and get to forgiveness if your partner participates in the process, you can forgive your partner even if you must do it alone. You can still get to an understanding of WHAT happened, figure out WHY it happened, and process your feelings with EMPATHY for yourself.


Reconciliation is a process BETWEEN two people; one that is built on trust and safety. Each partner needs to be able to say:


We understand each other and can count on each other for what is important in life. We don't expect perfection but we have common goals and a shared plan to get there. If we mess up, we fix it together.

Until this is achieved, the couple can not be reconciled. The understanding, trust-building, goals and plan are unique for each couple.

Our process to achieve reconciliation is captured in the following steps:

  • Step 5 - Offender OWNS his/her actions by TAKING RESPONSIBILITY.

  • Step 6 - A PLAN FOR CHANGE is constructed that is built on the insights discovered in STEP 3 - WHY.

  • Step 7 - The couple COMMITS to the plan and to each other.


One final clarification on the Roadmap; forgiving your partner does not erase the memory of the betrayal. A healed memory is not somehow deleted from a person's memory banks. Fortunately, forgiveness does allow us to remember what has happened in a new hopeful way. Our memory is reset, now within a framework of understanding and compassion. Resetting the memory (not forgetting!) requires grieving, patience, and a lot of hard work but the end result is imminently worthwhile and achievable. 


Now, armed with a better understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation, let's revisit the misguided statements from above:

  • “I can't forget what she did so I will never be able to forgive her.” 

    • You don't need to forget what happened, but rather make new meaning of it.

  • “His apology is not sincere so how can I possibly forgive him?” 

    • You CAN forgive even if he doesn't apologize. You do the work yourself. You understand what happened, why it happened, and feel your pain. This will release you of your job to keep him as your prisoner. You certainly will NOT be reconciled to him if he does not apologize because, without remorse and change, he will not safe for you.

  • “How can I forgive if it can happen again?"

    • Forgiving him doesn't mean you are still with him. Even if you reconcile, your partner could make it happen again. Don't reconcile unless you have a plan and commitment that you believe in.

  • "I am too scared to leave him so I guess I have to forgive him."

    • Do not forgive out of your fear. The forgiveness won't last if it is not based on the right foundation. Get support and face your fears. You still may achieve forgiveness but don't link it to staying or not staying in the relationship.

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