Of course, you feel betrayed. It’s almost impossible to believe that your beloved could hurt you this much. Everything you thought that you as true or real feels suspect now.
Your natural response could kick you into a holding pattern of sleeplessness nights, nursing your resentment and hurling not so nice things at your partner for being so hateful. Anyone you talk to might support you in reacting this way.
After more than four decades of standing beside hurt people in exactly your situation, I have come to believe that sitting back, steeped in your feelings, only makes things worse.
Let me suggest ways to take charge of your situation, to activate your best self, and pave a way to recovery.
Most everyone wants to fly into an endless rage and distance from the hurting partner. You will need times to do this.
You probably guessed it, be wise and make no rash or permanent decisions just now. Kicking out your partner will only make you create a sense of abandonment on both your parts and may validate your partner pursuing the liaison partner.
You may need times not to deal with the intensity of your emotions and his defensiveness but create time outs but not periods of not sleeping in the same house if you can stand it.
One: Do Reach Out for Support
You may be tempted not to tell anyone. Many don’t want to tell their family members because they do not want to prejudice them against their spouse if they rebuild their relationship. The same may go for your close friends because they may hate your spouse after that in support of you.
Let me suggest that you do choose, but choose carefully, Look for someone who appreciates the complexity of being human. Find someone who does not see things in black and white but can trust that you will make the best decision for you in time.
You will lean on them to listen with compassion but not tell you what to do. If you can, reach out to someone who can tell you frankly if overloaded and can’t listen because you may be tempted to go on and on.
Two: If You Feel Embarrassed, Open A Door Anyway
Remember you will find the best antidote for shame in the community. Again, you will want to find the right person. But let yourself hear that your friend wants to support you and is not condemning you or thinking less of you.
The right person will know that you were doing the best you could with what you had and what you knew. They will wait with you until the fog of intense emotions lifts, and you can sort what’s right for you.
Ask the person to tell you when they do not have to bandwidth to listen. If you only reach out to one or two people, you may lean on them at times that they are not centered enough to field your emotions.
You best not carry this alone. While you may want to protect yours or his reputation, you will find when you share it that more people than you realize have gone through it.
Three: Expect Flashbacks
You may be surprised by having a trigger that suddenly thrusts you right back as if you are experiencing again the first time you made the discovery. All of the emotions shock and disbelief will hit you in waves.
People who remember the blue skies right before they saw the World Trade Towers fall, find themselves having flashbacks on certain days when they see blue skies. When the brain has experienced trauma that it cannot handle, the aftermath of the emotions is stored in the body to pop up at unexpected times.
Remember, you will find a flashback has a beginning, middle and an end. Let yourself ride the wave of the anxiety without fighting. Like the brain of war heroes who have nightmares going back to their buddies killed your body is working through the trauma.
Four: Teach Your Partner How To Soothe You As You Begin To Heal
At first, you may not want your partner to touch you. Later you may want him to listen. Soon you may feel comfortable being held until the wave passes.
Your spouse cannot read your mind. You may be unsure what you want. However, continuing to treat your partner as the enemy will impede recovery and possible rebuilding of your relationship.
Five: Relinquish The Victim Role
At first, any suggestion that you had any part in the distance that developed will send you into a tailspin. You may feel it at first, but you may push it away with vehemence. You are too vulnerable at first to consider your role in contributing to the relationship become vulnerable.
In my experience, the hurt spouse who begins to explore what went wrong moves to healing more quickly. Total blame and self-righteousness tend to keep you locked into a narcissistic position of the other spouse feeling hopeless and giving up.
Six: Search For New Tools And Skills
Sincere efforts to explore what you can learn from what was not working will certainly lead to the beginning of trust. You know you would feel foolish to return to the old relationship if nothing has changed.
Going into the future, you need confidence that you will not let things get buried. You will want to have a sense that you both can get angry but resolve the conflict without staying up all night in polarized positions.
To have faith in your relationship means that you can turn to the other with a concern or a problem and know that she will be there to listen empathically, to appreciate what your struggle is about and if asked, offer meaningful suggestions.
This will give you confidence that you can have faith that the two of you can work future problems out and not just explode or become distant again.
Seven: Express Gratitude For Little Changes That You Notice
Couples used to the fight/flight patterns of interaction tend not to recognize the positive overtures of the partner. Remember the Gestalt picture in psychology books where you can only see the either the grandmother figure or the young woman. You cannot see the both at the same time.
Couples who commit to expressions of appreciation for the little things seem to have a way of holding onto the emerging goodness of their beloved. If you do this, you will not be rehashing all of the disappointments and injuries.
Employing these steps will usher you into a phase of rebuilding trust. Naturally, you will find many ups and downs. Using a specialist in infidelity recovery will save you from going down unproductive paths. Counseling from the beginning will help you to create new patterns of communication and interaction.
If you happen to reside in the New York or Westchester area, please feel free to give me a call to talk about your concerns and to explore the possibility of beginning therapy, You can reach me at 914-548-8645 or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.