Adultery rips the fiber of relationships and hurts them to the very core.
Love’s promise is negated in an instant with an illegitimate affair. The hurt of betrayal is so deep, so all-encompassing, so overwhelming that when discovered it shadows all other aspects of life. Still, it’s possible to heal and overcome the pain and this article talks about the entire process from the discovery and aftermath to the healing process to help you understand how to move on.
Discovery of multiple lies & deceits affects the hurt partner mentally
With the discovery of multiple lies and deceit, the hurt partner is reeling in shock, and trying to make sense of the way they thought things were.
The humiliation of realizing that they have been deceived and disrespected, fear of losing their life the way it was, the self-doubt that they are not enough, the rage that their trusted beau could deceive them, jealousy that ‘the other person’ has what they don’t, is some of what will go through the hurt partner’s mind.
In cycles, waves of numbing calm and extreme distress wash over them, often hitting them when least expected, always hitting where it hurts most.
The dance between incredulity and devastating acceptance likely will continue for some time. Often hurt partners will experience symptoms such as disturbed sleep, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, nightmares, memory lapses, isolation, low energy, feeling out of control, impulsiveness, numbness, etc.
Fight, flight or freeze?
With the shock of discovery comes the sense of threat to the safety.
While some are unable to move, agape with shock, others want to leave right away and go as far as possible, hoping to avert the danger.
At this stage of the crisis, it is essential for the couple to remember not to make a decision about their relationship.
The shock will eventually wear off, and even though it might not feel like it at that moment, their entire relationship is not necessarily negated by the affair. There are parts of their relationship, and parts of themselves that still hold true.
In order to get to the other side of the dark tunnel, the couple must first walk through the tunnel, but even before that, they need to get their footing.
Though every story is different, adultery is exceptionally catastrophic on many levels, and it is important for the couple to get professional help and support through its effects.
Repeated questioning, obsessive ruminating, and an insatiable need to review details are the hurt partners’ attempts to make sense of their relationship history.
In the wake of infidelity, not only do the couple’s future plans look shaky but they also start questioning things that have happened in the past.
The memory of the past is no longer reliable or valid.
It is deeply disorienting to question both the past and the future at the same time and do not know either with certainty. The hurt partner’s life-story is all of a sudden made inaccurate, and their sense of self is shattered.
Obsessively they try to gather pieces of the puzzle and to write a new narrative.
The loss of a sense of self, and the crisis of identity often also extends to the partner who has had the affair.
Face to face with the hurt they have caused their partner, they now have to watch their partner suffer which is exceptionally difficult given that they have caused the suffering.
The suffering becomes a reminder of their transgression which does not make them feel good about who they are.
But they must patiently hold the space, allowing their partner the grieving process, and for their swings between anger and rage to sadness and despair and everything in between. Alongside they must begin to assimilate the broken pieces of their identity and understand what the affair meant to them.
The video below discusses signs of identity crisis and some practical lessons to overcome the problem:
Holding space for healing
Often during the catastrophe of infidelity, it is up to the therapist to hold down the fort and to offer a safe space and stable ground so the couple can begin to heal and reassemble the shattered pieces of their life.
As the counseling progresses and feelings are discussed, the partners can either chose to remain together or part ways depending on what’s best for both of them. What’s important is that both parties should give ample time to understand why the affair happened, take responsibility wherever required, and learn what’s needed to prevent any problems in the future.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Founder of couple-care.com, specializing in Couples Retreats and Couples Therapy, Dr. Patel has a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy, a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a second Masters in Human Development. With over 15 years of psychotherapy experience, and having researched Love in Contemporary Life, and Conflict Resolution in Relationships, she brings this research, insight and experience to her work with couples.
Her commitment to her clients is to help identify their patterns, and the relationship’s core problems, and to equip them with the tools and practice required to shift toward health. She offers a safe, non-judgmental environment to work on changing negative communication and healing from emotional wounds, resentment, contempt, lack of intimacy and compassion, and the impact of childhood or past trauma.
Her approach is evidence based, basic yet powerful because it leads to compassion – a key ingredient for creating a positive change. Goals includes providing a new perspective on the relationship, new individual insights on self and partner, and the tools to effect and maintain lasting change. Checkout more about her relationship counseling in orange county, CA