The rocky road back to re-commitment and trust after an affair is akin to climbing a mountain. Reaching the summit looks like an impossible ascent as you begin the long, painful journey one step at a time. Emotionally, you are in unfamiliar terrain feeling more vulnerable than ever before.

It’s estimated that only 35% of couples are able to reach that summit and survive an affair. Time, commitment and the right tools (including relationship counseling) put the summit within reach, if both partners are willing to “do whatever it takes,” embrace the challenge and persevere when the going gets rough.

Here are some of the important stages along the journey to the summit:

Coming Clean – The unfaithful partner must be willing to tell the “whole” truth. Revealing the details that the betrayed partner wants to know is the end of deceit and the beginning of rebuilding intimacy. Expressing genuine remorse and listening to the betrayed partner’s pain is vital.

Facing Loss and Grief – After an affair is revealed comes a tremendous sense of loss. The betrayed partner feels that their familiar, safe, secure world has collapsed and their perception of their partner and relationship is forever altered. One breach is all it takes to shatter the delicate bond of trust that connects a couple.

Understanding What Happened – Exploring and understanding how this came about and why their relationship became vulnerable to infidelity is part of the healing process. This may be difficult without a therapist.

Establishing Healthier Communication – Communication will be deeper than ever before as the couple bares their souls and digs deep for understanding. This degree of authenticity in itself will deepen the couple’s level of intimacy.

Forgiveness – The betrayed partner must work on forgiveness, not forgetting or condoning what happened, but “letting go of anger” over time, accepting what has happened and receiving the genuine sorrow and remorse of her partner.

The journey is worth the climb, especially when couples have invested many years in the relationship and/or children are involved.

Sometimes out of the deepest pain can come the deepest intimacy. We always think it’s worth the effort.

Why do you think so few couples reach the summit?