After an extreme betrayal, it is very common to shut down, pull up the drawbridge, and protect yourself.
—Andrew G. Marshall
It’s the moment every married person dreads: you find out your partner has betrayed you. Hope is lost. Trust is gone. You hurt more than you thought possible and wonder if you will ever find forgiveness. Your mind races as you piece together the puzzle of how things went wrong. You want answers. Your very sense of self is shaken: Am I as attractive as I thought? Can I ever be confident again? You face a difficult decisions: Should I stay or should I go? Should I confide in my friends and family and risk hurting my spouse’s reputation or should I suffer silently? It’s time to start betrayal recovery.
Betrayal is a deep wound, a trauma. And it comes in many forms. Infidelity immediately comes to mind, but one can also feel betrayed by the partner who lies, is distant, forms coalitions with others, or withdraws sexual interest. Every person has a different definition for what constitutes betrayal, but secrecy is always at its core.
Turning outside the marriage for comfort very often means something has gone wrong in the way you relate to one another. Often, the emotional bond between you has eroded. The betraying partner tolerates the loneliness until it becomes unbearable, and then they find another source of feel-good connection. To justify these actions, the betrayer rewrites the history of the marriage and the character of their spouse. It’s much easier to continue betrayal when you construct a negative story of not-enough affection or blatant disregard.
The betrayed spouse soon learns that healing must go beyond “forgive and forget,” but they often don’t know where to begin. Confession, remorse, and understanding the motivation for straying are first steps for the betrayer. Setting boundaries for the future and rebuilding trust are crucial facets of healing for the betrayed. And, while it can’t be rushed, forgiveness can unfold as safety and attunement are rebuilt.
I’m never here to judge but to help the betraying partner hear their spouse’s cry for safety and connection. If your spouse feels betrayed, it’s wise to listen. Couples can learn from affairs and emerge stronger, more attuned, more in love. If that’s not possible, counseling can ensure that dissolution of the marriage isn’t done in haste. Let’s figure it out. Marriage therapy can help you sort through the pain, begin to heal, and take the next right step. Call today to schedule an intake in my Woodstock office.
I am the betraying partner. Will therapy make me the villain? I am afraid to be blamed.
My approach to couples therapy does not pathologize or blame. I am not a judge or referee. I am a guide who can help you discover the negative cycle that made the indiscretion attractive. I home in on the fears and unmet longings that led you to fall out of touch with your spouse.
My spouse’s betrayal feels like a death. Can I ever trust again?
Our partners are our most special someone, so their actions penetrate to the core. Their adoration makes us feel invincible, but their rejection or abandonment makes us feel inconsolable, like our life has ended. After a betrayal, we may view all the betrayer’s actions through the negative lens of distrust, making it difficult to have conversations that don’t end in blame and criticism. It takes time, but therapy can offer a safe space to have more productive, vulnerable conversations. For the first time, underlying insecurities may rise to the surface; hurts, fears, and longings may be expressed. Eventually, the wounded partner may feel safe to reach for their spouse again.
I am not sure I can stay with my partner after the discovery of betrayal. Is couples counseling a waste of time if I’m not sure I want to stay married?
Ambivalence is a normal response to betrayal. You are so angry you want to leave, but you’ve invested so many years you want to stay. I begin our work together with an honest assessment of where each partner is in the process: leaning in or leaning out of the marriage. We then select goals for counseling that make sense for your unique stage of the healing journey.
Jennifer is a wife and mother who has walked through many of the struggles she sees in her office. She connects with empathy as she guides clients through the strong emotions that so often accompany family life. She knows what it means to feel stuck between how you thought life would be and how it currently is. If you are near Woodstock and need betrayal recovery therapy, call for a consult today.
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