Affair Recovery

The CARE Model of Affair Recovery

The CARE model of affair recovery is a four-part process designed to help couples deal with the initial aftermath of discovery, understand why the affair happened, rebuild their relationship and create a relationship they never knew they could have. Each part of the process takes the couple through specific tasks designed to provide the foundation and framework for subsequent tasks. 

The discovery of an affair is akin to being stranded in a foreign city without a map or guide. The CARE process is designed to provide a map and be a guild in a new reality. A reality that is intensely emotional, painful, confusing and scary. It is also a reality that requires a couple to learn and utilize new skills, as old skills and strengths feel inadequate or become unhelpful. The CARE model provides the couple and each individual with the skills and tools needed to journey along this unknown path well and successfully.

Each couple is different and each affair story is different. This model of recovery can be tailored to each couple and their specific situation. This is also why there is not an exact timeline when it comes to the process of recovery. Couples often ask, “how long will this take?” or “what’s our chance of success?” Understandably, a specific time frame is impossible to predict and nothing is guaranteed. Couples that begin the CARE process, do the hard work in therapy and commit to working harder outside of therapy are often successful and can navigate the process quicker than if they drag their feet, avoid the issue or simply try to move forward without addressing it at all.

Towards the middle of the process, and definitely at the end, couples describe “having a marriage we never knew was possible” and “feeling thankful that the affair happened in the first place.” These statements are incredibly hard to connect with when an affair has just been discovered and can seem an impossibility at the start. Yet the same couples who began at day one eventually arrived in that place down the road as they journeyed well. 

Recovery is possible. Healing happens. Couples get through this. And so can you.


  • Come Out of Crisis

    The first stage of the CARE model of affair recovery is focused on helping you two come out of crisis together. The initial aftermath of an affair devastates a relationship and each individual in a multitude of ways. Working through the crisis stage looks like coming to understand the cycles of emotion that trigger on a regular basis, working through the intense anger of the wounded party and helping the offending party stay engaged and deal with their partner’s and their own intense emotions. This stage is a lot like triage, and sets the foundation for deeper work and healing to occur.

  • Awareness and Understanding

    “Why? Why did you do it?” When an individual discovers his or her partner had, or is having, an affair, a multitude of questions immediately come to mind. Many times the questions are incessant, and like a hamster wheel feel never ending. Often times couples describe their attempts to work through the questions as frustrating, triggering and unfulfilling. At best answers bring a degree of understanding or help with trust. However, they can also further damage the relationship, each individual and erode the ability to recover.

    The second stage of recovery focuses on bringing awareness to the issues that lead to the affair and understanding how it happened in the first place. It is common for the offending party to not fully understand why the affair happened, or even how. This first stage is all about bringing awareness to that specific issue. With new found awareness comes deeper understanding of motivations, desires, issues and vulnerabilities.

  • Rebuilding and Redemption

    Anytime an earthquake hits a city, after the rubble is cleared away, rebuilding must happen for life to continue. Rebuilding the relationship is what the third stage of the CARE model of affair recovery is all about. The first two stages clear away the rubble and this third stage specifically rebuilds the relationship. The reality is the entire recovery process is concerned with rebuilding the relationship, yet only this stage is solely focused on that task. This is where couples begin to look at their relationship in a different light and start to live and relate more intentionally together than they ever have in the past. New routines are developed, intimacy and connection becomes further prioritized and the dynamic and culture of the relationship changes for the positive.

  • Enrichment

    With a firm foundation and a new relationship, couples are able to spend time enriching their marriage and relationship. They get to go deeper in their connection, developing an increasingly secure base. Intimacy becomes a further focus and trust continues to strengthen. This is where a couple can really refine the relationship they want.


Success Stories

“I never thought we would get through this.”

“We finally have the marriage we always wanted.”

“I never thought I’d say this, but I’m thankful this all happened. Life is so much better now.”

“When you first told me that couples get through this I didn’t believe you. I do now.”

“This was the most painful thing I’ve experienced. I never thought I would stop hurting. Well today I realized that I haven’t hurt in a while.”

“The shame was overwhelming. It was suffocating. I can actually breathe again now.”