How To Survive An Affair: Guidelines For The Betrayed Spouse
By Kajay Williams
To the Betrayed Spouse
You’re unbelievably hurt and angry. Your world is shattered. Everything you once thought was infallible and true is now called into question. The one person you thought you could trust is now someone you don’t even know at all.
You’re the victim of infidelity. And your life will never be the same.
How you cope with these feelings and find your way through the maelstrom will be a pivotal journey not just for your marriage or committed relationship, but also for you as a person. Hope and light, however, can be found at the end of the tunnel, and this article will direct your footsteps along the treacherous way.
Now that You Know
You may have been suspicious of infidelity for a long time. Possibly you acted on your suspicions and caught your partner red-handed. Possibly someone else alerted you to the truth. In America, about 20,000 partners are discovered in an affair every single day. Those with wayward partners who divulged the affair voluntarily are slightly better-off; at least they’ll be able, in the future, to them give points for coming clean on their own.
Taking care of yourself
The period immediately following the devastating discovery that your partner has betrayed you is fraught with danger for you, the betrayed. Marriage counselors see the same kinds of deleterious responses over and over again, and warn those who are going through this stage to be aware of them.
Support can come in the most unlikely forms. It is, in fact, all around us, but when we are experiencing an encompassing darkness, it can be hard to even open our eyes and look for the light. Several ideas that may help inspire you in such a time of need are given in the box below.
Now is not the time to be shy. Find someone you trust and pour your heart out to them. A professional counselor is usually the most helpful choice, but if you feel that’s not right for you, the confidant may be a friend, a priest, a family member, an online forum, a support group, or any combination of the above.
The qualities of a good counselor or confidant include:
– Someone who is a good listener, and who does not interrupt.
– Someone who is compassionate, kind, and patient.
– Someone who offers suggestions without trying to fix things.
– One who can offer asylum, whether it be psychic or physical.
– One who is comfortable with periods of silence
– One who can keep a secret
Gathering your Information
Talking the deception talk
During times of tribulation such as those moments, days, and sleepless nights after an affair has come to light, it’s utterly tempting for both partners to do nothing but feel the pain that envelops them. There’s a time for that, of course. And it’s possible that you, as the betrayed party, may adopt an attitude of, “You broke it, you fix it” toward the partner who deceived you.
This is, however, not helpful, and if the couple in trouble due to deception does not somehow confront the problem and talk about it in a healthy manner, there is great danger that the relationship will never again be one which is truly authentic.
Depending on the inner strength of both parties, the deception talk may be short, long, or prolonged. It may take many such honest confrontations for both parties to feel they can try to move on and renew the loving relationship they once enjoyed. Professional guidance during this time, in the form of couples’ therapy, is highly recommended, to see you through the naturally occurring pitfalls and obstacles along the way.
Compounding Threats to your Psyche, Spirit and Relationship after Discovery
While there is, as you now realize, nothing in the world that can help you prepare for the depth and breadth of damage an affair can cause, experts advocate that the betrayed party remain on the lookout for these signs of fraying around the edges:
Feelings of despair, hopelessness, or chronic fatigue
These sensations are profoundly telling and also extremely common. They can represent a deep depression, which may be seen as anger turned in upon yourself. When we can’t or won’t confront or handle such an epic situation, we sometimes give up and sink into the subtle comfort of helplessness. The universal recommendation at this point is for the sufferer to see a professional psychologist, psychiatrist, or medical doctor immediately. These responses, while they may seem quite natural, all point to a risk of suicide, and can be dealt with by experts who do so with their patients on a regular basis.
Uncontrolled outbursts of anger
The most normal reaction in the world is to hurt back when we’ve been hurt. While anger and aggression on the part of the wounded spouse may also seem very understandable, they can easily escalate into physical acts or destructive emotional attacks you can never take back. Unchecked hostility can actually cause more lasting damage to your relationship than the affair, which brought it on, creating a never-ending circle of resentments and lashing out on both sides. Get help from a neutral professional or confidant.
If it’s not feasible to work with a professional at this time, exercise, hobbies, and attentive self-care in the form of eating and sleeping right can provide enough help to get you back on an even keel, from which position you will be better able to handle the problems that must be addressed. Avoid self-medicating with chemicals, liquor, and other temporary fixes.
Your heart of hearts
While no one made your partner decide to have an affair and put your relationship in danger, there are usually mitigating circumstances that lead up to such a drastic step. Take time to have the talk with yourself, too, about whether you may have contributed reasons for your partner to draw away from you and your marriage or committed relationship.
WARNING: It’s important at this juncture, say the experts, not to use these mitigating reasons as an excuse to release your betrayer from the responsibility that comes with the act of betrayal. As we have seen, while an attitude of withdrawal is easier, it is not helpful and can seriously erode an emotional partnership. Just so, the tendency to do the easy thing by precipitously releasing the partner from repentance and restitution is an approach that will do nothing for the healthy resuscitation of your broken relationship, and made indeed do it much harm in the years to come.
Walking the Rebuilding Walk
In taking the first halting steps toward rebuilding a shattered relationship, you are encouraged to go slowly and carefully. The most important tool in your rebuilding arsenal will be trust. You, as the injured party who was deceived, will eventually have to find a way to trust your partner again, and it’s up to the wayward partner to somehow show you they can be trusted. But if, while you are both walking through this harrowing process, you can provide an environment of safety for your partner, it will make it easier for them to stay honest with you. Your ability to turn from your baser instincts of retribution will be of immense import at this point.
Making up your Mind to Rebuild
No professional marriage counselor will tell you that it’s either right or wrong to stay in a broken marriage or leave it. You must decide for yourself, as with all of life’s landmark decisions. And there are never any guarantees, in life or in a relationship.
It’s best to make this important decision after a short period of time has passed and you are feeling at least somewhat balanced. One very good rule is “When in doubt… don’t.” This single, easy-to-remember admonition has saved countless relationships. Wait to make life-changing decisions until there is no doubt in your mind or heart, and use the time wisely while you wait.
Identify the Pros and Cons
1. Make a list. To help clarify, write out two lists with all the negative and positive aspects of your relationship on it. Consider both the long- and the short-term advantages and drawbacks. Include pros and cons regarding yourself, your health, your family, your finances, your career, and your heart. Really think about these things and take sufficient time with this list to be very thorough, possibly creating it over a few days.
2. Assign values to each item on your list in the following way:
– Every item that has its foundation in love gets ten points.
– Every item that has its foundation in fear gets five points.
It is wise and reasonable that your loving motives receive more weight than your fearful ones. Any relationship built on fear is a weak one and will not weather future storms well. An example of a love-inspired item on your list of pros and cons might be, “I believe everyone deserves a second chance.” And an example of a fear-inspired item might be, “I’ll never be able to trust him again.”
Reconciliation, Forgiveness, and Moving On
Once you’ve talked it out with your partner and decided that, for whatever reasons, you both want to try to pick up the pieces and rebuild a relationship, whether you’re working with a professional counselor or not, there are certain attitudes both you and your partner can embrace that will make the process worthwhile and, possibly, enlightening:
a. Both parties can take an active, positive approach toward rejuvenating the love you once had through the cultivation of honesty and trust. A passive manner only prolongs the pain, delays the possible renewal of the relationship, or sets the scene for an irreparably inauthentic relationship not based on the truth, but based on fear.
b. An attitude of mutual respect will go far to avoid the usual pitfalls of retribution, gamy behavior, and unproductive regret.
c. Both members in the relationship should remember that there can be no guaranteed positive outcome, just as there was no guarantee when you first tied the knot.
Guidelines for Redeeming a Relationship Threatened by Infidelity
Even though the onus falls on the partner who betrayed to stop the affair completely, make amends, and go the extra mile to show the wounded partner they can be trusted, your relationship will be much easier to rebuild if you both follow the guidelines below.
– Be honest about your feelings
– Try not to lash out in your pain
– Avoid withdrawal
– Be as objective as possible
– Be fearless, but not brutal
– Be realistic, but not hurtful
– Don’t rush the process
– Don’t run and hide from the process
As you can see, each stage along the way is liable to take a while, depending on the extent of the damage. And, just as there are no guarantees that your newly burgeoning relationship will work, there are also no guarantees that turning your back on it entirely will have a better outcome. Forgiveness and renewed trust are the ultimate goals, and they are achievable, when both partners are willing to make the journey, feeling the pain along the way, and helping each other over the hard places and obstacles along the path.
Where are you in the stages of rebuilding your life after it was shattered? Can you look through the list of stages below and then, somehow, look forward to a brighter day?
Marriages fail for a myriad of reasons. Those couples who succeed in facing dire relationship problems such as infidelity inevitably look back in wonder and surprise, one day in the future, and notice how much stronger the experience made them, both as individuals and as a unit.
Maturity comes through the tempering of a willing spirit. There is no other way. Could this be another phase of your life journey that you can use to bring yourself to a new level of maturity and so realize the potential of your mind and spirit? If both partners can embrace this way of thinking, they have an excellent chance of helping each other find their ways back home.
The Stages of your Progress
The universally accepted stages of recovery after infidelity breaks your heart and your relationship are:
1. Exploring the reasons behind the affair
2. Grief and/or denial
3. Halting steps on the journey back
4. Arriving at a threshold of breaking down and breaking through
5. Acceptance of the other
7. Renewed trust
What To Do If Your Partner Is Having An Affair?
Time To Act: There is hope.
An affair may be the best thing to happen to a marriage or relationship.
Contrary to popular belief, experts say that many couples survive infidelity and are able to rebuild a stronger, better and more fulfilling marriage after the betrayal.
Whether you suspect your partner or spouse is cheating on you or whether you have just discovered your spouse’s affair or whether you are wondering if you want to save your marriage or opt for separation after an affair or whether you want to redefine the boundaries of your relationship or marriage to make sure you and your partner are on the same page, I can help you.
CLICK on the banner below to learn more.