You’ll never forget the day you learned of your partner’s betrayal.
The word “devastated” almost doesn’t seem like a strong enough word to describe the pain.
Here’s someone you trusted implicitly to never do anything to purposely hurt you. You trusted them with your heart. And they did something that has turned your world upside down.
They cheated on you.
They lied about something major.
They ruined your finances with gambling or addiction.
They humiliated you in the cruelest way possible.
These are the many ways that partners can betray each other, and it’s always very painful. You may be struggling to figure out if you can manage the heartbreak. You may even be getting ready to leave, if you haven’t already.
Take, for example, one couple that came to me for counseling after both of them cheated on each other.
Megan contacted me for counseling because she had just found out that her husband, Jim, was having an affair. Although she was feeling hurt and angry, she didn’t feel justified in getting too hurt and angry because she had also been having an affair.
Megan told me that she and Jim still loved each other, and they didn’t want to break up their family, but her discovery of his affair took her out of denial. She had been able to rationalize her affair to herself, but she couldn’t rationalize Jim’s.
She had to acknowledge that something was really wrong. She was worried that this meant the end of their relationship.
I hear this story over and over. Why is there so much infidelity?
Megan and Jim entered their marriage, as most people do, with the expectation that the other person would make them happy.
They entered feeling some emptiness, unworthiness, and insecurity, hoping their partner would fill them, validate them, and complete them.
Yet as time went on, neither felt happy, secure, filled, or complete, so they began to look elsewhere. Perhaps someone else— someone more attentive and more emotionally available, or sexier, or more playful—would fill the emptiness, validate their worth, and make them happy.
As long as Megan and Jim believed that something external would make them happy, they would continue to be unhappy, and they would keep looking for another person or better sex to make them happy.
Infidelity generally comes from the same inner emptiness as does alcohol and drug abuse, food addiction, gambling, spending, shopping, and so on.
In the case of infidelity, the addiction is to attention, approval, sex, or conquest—using another person to fill the inner emptiness and take away the inner aloneness.
Inner emptiness, addiction to attention, a focus on external sources of happiness—these are the reasons why I assured Megan that the affairs did not need to mean the end of the relationship. She and Jim could decide to learn about the deeper problems in their relationship and eventually create a much more satisfying relationship.
Therefore, rather than end the relationship, taking their emptiness and aloneness with them into their next relationship, Megan and Jim had the opportunity to do some inner healing work.
Which was a wise decision, because unless we heal the underlying cause of lying, cheating, conflict, or sadness in our relationship, we’ll just end up repeating these same problems in a new relationship, or get stuck in misery with the person we don’t want to leave.
Then we’ll wonder if something is wrong with our “picker” or if we aren’t worthy of honest, lasting love.How to Feel Worthy
What’s the alternative to staying stuck or leaving and repeating the pattern?
Staying and healing from betrayal, in 3 steps.
It is devastating when someone who we believe cares about us betrays us—lies, cheats, breaks a sacred promise, hurts us behind our back, steals from us, gambles and put us into a financial crisis, turns others against us, and so on.
Rather than let the devastation ruin you or your commitment to each other, it’s time to take a different approach and use the lessons from the betrayal to make your relationship stronger. Here are the steps:
It is vitally important to find healthy ways of releasing the outrage, heartbreak, and helplessness over the other person that occurs in betrayal. Too often, we may blame ourselves for not seeing the signs of betrayal and getting caught unawares, but we must remember that we are human and can’t always know what’s happening.
It is unhealthy for us to get stuck with the deep pain of heartbreak and helplessness, or stuck feeling like a victim. Stuck feelings can cause illness, and this is the last thing we need while dealing with betrayal.
The way to release stuck feelings is to be very kind and gentle with yourself, acknowledging how very hard it is to go through a betrayal.
You might want to roll up a towel and beat the outrage out on a bed, saying all you wish you could say to the person who betrayed you. This might release tears and when the tears come, allow them to flow, being very tender with yourself. It’s healthy to cry it out and unhealthy to be stoic.
Every challenge in life has lessons for us, and once we move some of the very painful feelings through, we can then learn. The two primary things we want to learn about are:
Try to answer these questions honestly, but without any judgment toward yourself. Often, but not always, if we had been alert to our gut feelings, we could have known ahead of time that bad things were happening.
Recognize that we all ignore things that are painful for us to see. On the other hand, there may not have been early signs. Sometimes others are very good at seeming to be caring and honest, and we can all get pulled into the illusion of caring and charm. Again, be very compassionate with yourself for not knowing.
Each time the pain of the heartbreak and helplessness comes up, feel it fully with compassion and then be willing to release it. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in self-blame, rumination, what-ifs, or anger toward the betrayer.
None of these will help you to heal.
We tend to blame ourselves, stay in anger at the other person, or ruminate as ways of not feeling so powerless over the person who betrayed us, but allowing ourselves to get stuck in these feelings only serves to continue to hurt us.
No matter how much you blame the betrayer or yourself, it doesn’t change the fact that it happened.
Acceptance of the truth, and of your helplessness over what happened, will help you heal much faster than holding onto anger, blame, or rumination.
Keep doing these steps over and over and the times of deep pain will get fewer and fewer.
It does take time, but eventually you will have long periods when you don’t think about it. There may always be situations that trigger the pain, and when this happens, be very gentle, tender, caring, and compassionate toward yourself, again allowing the feelings to move through you.
If you don’t know how to handle your feelings, or be compassionate to yourself, you’ll want this:Take Loving Care of You
Like Megan and Jim, you may decide that it’s worth trying to save your marriage after a betrayal.
If you’re willing to do the work to learn how to love yourself and take emotional responsibility for yourself, you’ll be able to create a much more intimate and fulfilling relationship, especially if you BOTH commit to doing the work together.
Betrayals and affairs, rather than ending a relationship, can lead to creating a whole new and satisfying one. For Megan and Jim, they no longer feel any desire to have an affair, and their relationship has come out the other side stronger than ever.
It takes a willingness to learn how both of you betrayed yourselves, turned your back on your needs and feelings, ignored what you needed to pay attention to in yourself, and stopped listening to your gut.
My 30-day video program, Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love, can help you find your way back to yourself, and to each other.
You’ll learn the #1 reason people lie to their partners and why it’s not what you think. I’ll tell you what you should or shouldn’t do if you catch your partner in a big lie.
You’ll also learn how to mend broken trust without resorting to spying, clinging, or feeling guilty.
More importantly, you’ll learn how to stop abandoning yourself and take responsibility for your own happiness and feelings of worth, so that no matter what happens in the future, you feel at peace knowing the one source of love that matters will ALWAYS be there for you—the kind you have from your Higher Self.
Get started in healing your relationship today, with Day 1 of my 30-day program:Start Watching & Learning
I’m confident that if anything, you’ll get the clarity and peace of mind you’ll need to move on.
P.S. There are 5 reasons you might want to leave your marriage or relationship that have nothing to do with infidelity. You’ll learn what these are on Day 24 of my Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love program.
Chances are, though, the problems you’re experiencing can be resolved with the tools you’ll get in my 30-day video program, which you can learn more about here:Find Out More