For the purpose of this blog, infidelity breach is defined as a broken promise for exclusivity in a relationship where a commitment was made. Open relationships will be excluded from this discussion.
Therapy provides a safe arena to share thoughts and feelings that have thrown both partners into emotional turmoil. The betrayed and betrayer experience 5 cycles of grief similar to what is done during a period of mourning. However going through the cycle during mourning provides one with community support. Going through grief over infidelity is usually done in private. When a person calls to seek help from friends to discuss mourning most are open to giving support. When person calls to discuss infidelity with friends they might not be met with compassion but more of interrogation and judgment. Shame and isolation are sample of complex emotions that are being dealt with by both. Infidelity adds a 6th stage – deciding to stay or not in a relationship.
To reveal or to not reveal…that is the question
Two thoughts on revealing the affair. Why burden the partner with the affair and on the other hand, a relationship cannot progress with dishonesty. It can be scary and overwhelming to come clean. Usually the betrayer will have conflicting emotion and the thought of revealing the affair can bring up tremendous guilt. However, it is an act of great courage and benefit because it will bring liberation. We are trapped by what we fight instead of what we allow in.
Was this an affair or an addiction
Love and sex addiction is almost as common as alcohol now. Attributes of an addiction: going to sex or love is harmful to self or others; used as a way to escape loneliness; sense of being out of control; a pattern to the behaviour; do not cheat for closeness and intimacy. An affair is more of an act in search of a missing factor in a current relationship. Infidelity in the beginning of a relationship is more indicative of an addiction as opposed to an affair several years into a relationship which is more indicative of dissatisfaction.
If an addiction is identified there are local 12 Step programs for both parties that can help eliminate shame and isolation. This should be seen as complementary to individual therapy:
SANON groups support partners of sex addicts. Wednesday meeting in THOUSAND OAKS (7:00–8:15 pm) at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church #1 Church Road Buena Vista Room (near church office) .
SA groups support sex addicts. Saturday 8:30a in THOUSAND OAKS 2667 N. Moorpark Rd., Suite 105 (Visions) SW corner of Moorpark & Avenida de los Arboles.
Individual healing process
It is normal to get into fight or flight mentality. The one who was betrayed feels a lot of pain and needs to focus on themselves through self care. One might want to flee to avoid pain but the feelings persist so running from them or trying to change the other person is not healing nor productive. This is not to suggest that one should stay or leave a relationship but more to pause and process ones feeling to be able to make a better decision. By digesting overwhelming emotions you will bring life into balance. One might start being confused by who can they trust now. Is everything experienced real or an illusion. Why has life brought this to me. What do I need to change. Healing will occur through forgiveness and forging a new beginning as well as creating a fresh relationship. If one partner desires to work on the relationship and one doesn’t. It’s o.k. for the one that is vested to exercise patience and hope, however both need to participate for the relationship to survive and flourish.
PTSD and infidelity – when a discovery occurs ones world is thrown off kilter. It shakes you on a deep emotional level similar to a head on collision. A confident person can become timid or gregarious person turns shy. They pull in their energetic resources to heal. Another component of PTSD is do whatever we can to make our environment controllable. The betrayed might start to manage, supervise and monitor their mates computer. Instead of controlling the environment they send out more distressors and focus on others as opposed to taking care of themselves. Select confidants to enlist support.
Surrender into what is and not fantasy of what could be or should be. Who my partner is vs who my partner is supposed to be. The betrayed will feel empowered by making choices in each moment. This can best be accomplished by being present, forgiving, and staying positive instead of recycling what happened.
Once individual clarity is achieved it’s important to understand the partners point of view. Some people would like to hear details of the infidelity and some don’t want to. The betrayer needs to make amends and be remorseful and commit to doing something different next time. They need to be available to witness and acknowledge what the betrayed is feeling and going through.
If there is an addiction there might be some repeating instances similar to alcoholism. If an affair occurred the betrayer needs to clean up that relationship which might cause the betrayed more pain. Don’t get stuck in the victim story. You need to move forward by facing what is, identify where you are headed; what you would like to let go of and what you would like to bring in.
If infidelity occurred in the past and the betrayed has not been able to recover there might be several reasons:
Betrayed didn’t feel completely heard.
Betrayer did not acknowledge pain adequately.
The feeling of helplessness was not addressed and so the pain lingers
Anger hasn’t been released.
Couples can overcome infidelity and experience greater closeness by looking at each other soberly and not looking at each other through distorted glasses. Deeper understanding of who each other is as opposed to who the partner is supposed to be. Forgiveness occurs and a deeper love can develop. True honesty and agreement must be chosen for love and friendship to grow.