The Trauma of Infidelity
Just like that your life is turned upside down. You are in shock, you are angry, you are hurt, you want to react; you may pack your spouse’s clothes to put him out, or you may choose to leave. You talk to your friends and they are just as angry as you, telling you to leave, you deserve better. You have found out your spouse has been unfaithful. A few days go by and you both have a conversation. You feel blamed because they may be telling you this happened due to lack of something you should have been providing more of. You may have mixed feelings because while you have been betrayed in one of the worst ways, you still love your spouse, you may have kids. You love your family… but the deep pain, the insurmountable hurt, the ultimate betrayal of spending years giving, loving, doing, and simply being for the person you vowed to love and be loyal to forever, has shattered your world. This is trauma.
When I see couple’s that are trying to work through infidelity and tell them about the trauma that the betrayed spouse is experiencing, I often get, even from the victim “oh I never thought of it like that”. Well it is a fact. The betrayed spouse in an infidelity situation most times experiences the same type of symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder or even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms like: intrusive thoughts, being emotionally unstable, feeling broken and powerless, anxiety, irritability, insomnia etc. In my experience, once this information is shared with a couple, the betrayed spouse feels relieved to know what they have been feeling is valid, and the betraying spouse most times expresses empathy and has a deeper understanding of what they have put their spouse through. This is just the beginning. At the end of therapy working through infidelity isn’t always a positive result. While some couples work through it and come out stronger and continuing in their marriage, some work to find out that the marriage is over. That’s a reality.
In trying to work through infidelity some important issues to deal with are the tasks of dealing with the traumatic memories using exposure to relive those hurtful moments, and to help the betrayed spouse learn to cope with those memories over time. Also, transparency and identifying what the betrayed spouse needs from her spouse to help her feel more secure in the relationship. Over time, the consistent actions of the betraying spouse can help rebuild trust and security. Couples have to discuss needs, expectations, and deeply explore emotions to rebuild trust and develop a new closeness so that they can begin life after infidelity. Your relationship may never be the same again for the good or the bad, but understand that coming to therapy will help you have an open discussion about this issue. Studies have shown that 70% of couples that have gone to therapy after an infidelity stayed together. This is probably the best chance to save your marriage if that’s the goal.
For more information on working through infidelity or to schedule an appointment visit my website - tyraberger.com.