At MLCP we are trained in providing the Attone, Attune, Attach affair recovery program for couples who have experienced a betrayal in their relationship.

Gottman Affair Recovery (Attone Attune Attach)

Has your relationship, or the relationship of someone you know, experienced an emotional or sexual affair?

Once a betrayal has been discovered, both partners have many confusing and conflicting emotional experiences. It’s hard to know where to begin when recovering from such a devastating event.

Let us help you! (Click HERE to schedule a free consultation with an atone, attune, attach specialist)

Our therapists use the Gottman Method of Affair Recovery which is a three stage process, consisting of “Atone, Attune and Attach”. This model helps couples create a compassionate space as both partners struggle to rebuild a damaged relationship and work to rebuild trust.

Dr. John Gottman has done significant research on the science behind trust and betrayal and this model draws from the learning. You will receive the tools needed to create trust and commitment in love relationships.

Can Trust Ever Be Re-built?

You may not yet know if it’s possible to recover from the affair or not. You might not even know if it’s worth trying because you may feel like you’ll never be able to come back from this. Many may be advising you to separate since you will “never be able to be in a trusting relationship again.”

Sadly, this might be true. But it might not.

If you are still deciding whether or not you want to pursue affair recovery treatment, the good news is you don’t need to know right away. All of our couples therapy starts with an assessment and then treatment planning where you discuss with your therapist whether or not this model is a good fit for you.

You will have the opportunity to learn about the different options moving forward. Some couples know they want to stay together, and others are in a time of uncertainty. We can help facilitate these conversations, and at the end of the assessment, we can discuss whether or not you want to move forward with this approach.

The Atone Attune Attach Method of Affair Recovery

If you decide to move forward, at Main Line Counseling Partners, we use the  “Atone, Attune, Attach” method of affair recovery by John Gottman. It is a three-step approach to rebuilding trust and intimacy in a relationship after infidelity.

The model is based on a commitment to complete transparency by both partners.

  1. Step One: AtoneIn this phase of recovery, the therapist supports the couple by guiding them through conversations about the betrayal. The hurt partner and the person responsible for the betrayal are both treated with dignity and respect as they talk about what happened in a structured manner designed to build trust by asking and answering questions.

    The betrayer’s responsibility is to express remorse and take full responsibility for their actions. The hurt partner often experiences symptoms of PTSD after they learn of the affair. This can lead to feeling like your life has been turned upside down and you don’t know what is real and what to believe.

    The betrayer works to patiently allow their partner to process the pain their actions caused and show remorse for what they have done. It is normal to feel defensive and attempt to mimize the gravity of one’s actions, but this will make things worse and decrease trust instead of increase it.

    A therapist trained in the Atone Attune Attach Model knows how to slow the conversation down and guide each partner in this very painful and challenging conversation. It is imperative that the space is safe for the hurt partner to express anger, pain, and mistrust, while the betrayer expresses remorse, regret, and responsibility.

    Total transparency is crucial in this phase. The betrayer must be patient as the betrayed will have questions and need answers, even when it feels like an invasion of the betrayer’s privacy. The betrayer’s willingness to be transparent is more important than the transparency itself.


    Additionally, Gottman emphasizes that the person who was betrayed is actively working toward forgiveness, even though the pain is very deep. When a betrayer wants to reconcile, it’s the injured partner’s responsibility to forgive if they’re going to make their relationship last.

    2. Step Two: Attune

    Attunement is a process of learning how to speak to each other differently such taht both understand and respect the other’s inner world. This includes learning how to talk about differences clearly directly and respectfully.

    In the attune phase of the healing process, the attention shifts to reconstructing a new relationship. In the atonement phase, the couple allows time to mourn the loss of what once was. In the attunement phase, they begin to build the foundation for something new, with practical conflict management strategies, tools for re-building an everyday routine, and empathy training activities. (Check out this free empathy training video series, Empahy Made Easy by Laura Silverstein, Certified Gottman Couples Therapist)


    After forgiveness and trust are rebuilt, the couple focuses on re-establishing a balanced partnership. When there has been infidelity, it is a risk for a couple to never really feel balanced. The betrayer might feel like they will “never be able to feel like an equal again” since the betrayal caused an imbalance.

    For long-term relationship happiness, couples thrive when they consider themselves equal (rather than one above the other). So the therapist now gives the couple tools to move forward in creating a “new normal.”

    3. Step Three: Attach

    Many couples feel like their relationship is over after an affair or betrayal, and the Gottman Method agrees. In this model, couples work to create a brand new relationship during the Attach Phase of affair recovery.

    The final phase in Gottman’s method is attachment. Couples are guided by their therapist in conversations about what they want from relationship number 2. The first relationship is over, and now they can re-establish commitment expectations, ground-rules for communication and re-connect physically and emotionally with a renewed sense of feeling seen and understood.They use the communication skills they gained from the attune phase to talk about sex, intimacy, and long-term goals, needs, and desires.


    Relationship number two can bring a satisfying sex life, improved communication and deeper emotional intimacy.

Overall, the “Attune, Attune, Attach” method provides a structured framework for couples to navigate the complex affair recovery process. It emphasizes open communication, emotional understanding, and intentional efforts to rebuild trust and intimacy.

Ready To Learn More?

We have couples therapists at Main Line Counseling Partners who have expertise in this model of affair recovery. Contact our intake coordinator to ask for a free 15-minute consultation with one of our Gottman couples therapists by clicking HERE.