Overcoming Infidelity: Reconnecting and Rebuilding


The summer of 2015 the breach of the Ashley Madison cheating website left many marriages affected and even allegedly led to five suicides in the United States and Canada. It left many couples wondering, “Can a marriage be saved after an affair?” As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I believe it is possible to move past infidelity even though an affair is one of the biggest obstacles a marriage can face. There are ways to move on from infidelity and create an even stronger bond with one’s spouse.

I believe that marriage does not end due solely due to an affair; a marriage ends based on how the couple deals with the aftermath of the cheating. Healing from infidelity takes hard work. Identifying the emotional and/or physical disconnection within the marriage is highly essential. Both members of the couple must be committed to repairing the damage, rebuilding their trust, and reconnecting emotionally and physically.

  • The unfaithful spouse must stop the affair and end all contact with the other person, should provide all details honestly and completely, and take the steps necessary to rebuild trust.

  • The betrayed spouse must take their job of healing seriously. They should not minimize or try to speed up the process.

  • Each must take responsibility for their part in how the marriage got to this point and learn from it.

Rebuilding Trust:

In order to regain trust, one must show their understanding of their partner’s feelings and prove true regret. Showing willingness to change is a start in earning back a spouse’s trust. Proving one is serious, reliable, and safe to love again is the goal.  Rebuilding the trust in a marriage means rebuilding the credibility with one’s spouse.

There are some immediate changes the unfaithful spouse can make such as answering any and all questions, providing passwords, and checking in throughout the day with their partner.   The betrayed spouse should ask for what they need to feel secure in their relationship again.


Reconnecting with one’s spouse both emotionally and physically after an affair is perhaps the most difficult, but can be achieved with determination and dedication. Rediscovering the love and affection for one another does not happen overnight. It takes time for both to work through the distrust and pain caused by the affair and reach out to each other again with genuine love, respect, and admiration.

Determining whether there was an emotional and/or physical disconnection in the marriage is the first step in the reconnection process. Discussing which areas in the marriage need to be nurtured so that both partners can feel reconnected is important.  Next, the couple must be fully committed to repairing the damage.  Finally reconnection can commence.

Physical Reconnection:

Physical reconnection should be taken very slowly.  It should start with hand holding, move to hugging and kissing and then finally move into sexual intimacy as outlined below.

  • Take It Slow.

    • Start with physical, non-sexual touching.

  • Become Affectionate.

    • Hugging and/or Kissing throughout the day (when you wake up, leaving home for the day, returning home in the evening, and bedtime)

    • Hand Holding.

  • Beginning Intimacy.

    • Touching

    • Kissing

  • Sexual Intimacy.

Emotional Reconnection:

Emotional reconnection happens through trust rebuilding, becoming a team again, complete honesty, and mutual interests.

  • Be Open and Honest.

  • Admitting why one strayed is important.

  • Answer All Questions. Even if the answers hurt.

  • Rebuild Trust.

  • No Secrets. Know each other’s passwords.

  • Be a Team.

    • Plan what to do if the person the affair makes contact.

    • United front with kids.

  • Go over which areas in your marriage need to be nurtured so that you both can feel connected to each other again.

  • Mutual Interests.

    • Date Nights

Marriage Counseling is a key factor in helping facilitate the many changes that need to take place in order for a relationship recovering from an affair to fully heal. A marriage therapist can help the couple learn to understand and resolve their conflicts, develop communication tools and problem solving skills, and re-establish their intimacy and trust. Given a willingness to work hard on their marriage, most couples can repair the damage from an affair, heal completely, forgive and make their marriages healthy and satisfying once again.


About Staci Lee Schnell LMFT

Staci Lee Schnell Staci Lee Schnell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MT 2779) and a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. In 2016, she began serving a three year term as a Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Board Member. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Child Development from Florida State University in 1991. Staci then went on to earn her Master of Science Degree in Family Therapy as well as a Clinical Specialist Degree in Family Systems Health Care from Nova Southeastern University in 1993. As a therapist, Staci has extensive experience working with adolescents and adults providing individual and family counseling. She specializes in childhood and adult ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Couples Therapy, Postpartum Counseling and Medical Family Therapy. Staci is trained in Family Systems Theories and typically practices Brief Systemic Therapy (MRI), while still focusing on what is the best fit for her clients. Staci also utilizes the Gottman Method, Solution Focused Therapy, Play Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Staci understands that dealing with the challenges and stresses of life can be difficult and that coping with emotional pain, medical issues, and family problems can seem overwhelming. Staci enjoys helping to alleviate these issues and stresses in a non-judgmental, nurturing, and comfortable environment. She is concerned with the present and as their therapist provides the space for her clients to explore life relevant topics. Staci helps and encourages her clients to make changes for the betterment of their lives. Besides being a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Staci is the President of SLS Therapy, Inc. as well as the Clinical Director and Owner of the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida. She has been married for over 20 years and has two teenaged children. Staci is currently accepting new clients and offers daytime and evening appointments. Visit slstherapy.com/ for more information on Staci Lee Schnell. Please call (754) 400-1211 or email staci@slstherapy.com to set up a free phone consultation.


  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. I had to deal with an affair a few years ago when my husband decided to go there. It was absolutely the most difficult time of my life, and it just impacted me on every level. Today, we are still married, and I honestly believe that we are better off than we were prior to the cheating. I know most people would not be able to comprehend this, but when we decided to work through it, it forced us to lay all the cards on the table, which exposed the roots of our issues, which led to the affair. In a weird, roundabout way, it took the cheating for us to address all of our issues, and when we committed to working through them it just got better. I know it is not that simple for everyone, and I know many are unable to get past it. I suppose every situation is different, so it all just depends on the people involved. It is never easy, and that is for certain. I know when I first discovered it, I was online checking out websites like yours, and getting all the help I could find. Keep sharing, and keep helping, it is very refreshing.


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