Updated: Jun 15, 2020
My last blog spoke into affairs of the heart, today we look at the despair a betrayed partner experiences on discovering that their significant other has been unfaithful, severing the trust of what was once a haven and secure bond between a loving couple.
She or He has just discovered their partner’s infidelity, at the heart of this breach is the deepest wounding of all, the ‘unimaginable roller coaster of emotions’ of deceit and lies which rip open the strongest hearts of courage, left to bleed out and die to the plague of grief and loss only this kind of grieving is more severe as the betrayed must still see their partner or because of financial reasons remain living together under the same roof.
Any form of betrayal is a painful breach within the boundaries of an intimate relationship.
Once the unfaithful partner has encountered a sexual or emotional affair with another man or woman by revealing personal things about their relationship, ‘how unhappy’ their relationship or marriage is taking the other person deeper into the belief they have entered into an intimate connection - now they have crossed over where many would never dare to tread.
The betrayed partner is left in a world of confusion and pain, fearing this grief they’ve been plunged into will never end. The multiple losses are endless the loss of a partner, loss of self, and the trust they previously had in themselves, grieving the very fabric of the loss of the relationship they believed they had for life, and the overwhelming loss of the dreams that they had for the future.
The stages of grief Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified as the five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
The betrayed partner can experience extreme mood swings from feeling sad one minute to depressed in the next moment, becoming enraged and hostile even possibly revengeful.
The primary arousal states experienced maybe fight, flight, or freeze these are innate protective behaviours and serve to protect us from a perceived threat for our survival.
The partner who is the unfaithful moves through their insecurities of feeling shame, guilt, remorse (sometimes) not always this depends on the original type of attachment bond formed in the relationship as to why and how the affair happened.
Imagine the ferocity like a changing storm that takes the couple by surprise, the constantly changing emotional tidal waves exchanges between the two partners it may be loving, and even sexual one minute but then erupts the next as moods swing from one extreme to another the territory is unknown with little to no warning.
Some research suggests the average time it may take to recover from betrayal trauma, may be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years and for more complicated betrayal traumas it may take many more years. In my couples counselling, I have heard from individuals that for them they had never forgiven their partner and still carried the betrayal trauma for one client it was almost 25 years, this is devastating for them and their relationship.
Healing is a process through betrayal trauma and seeking professional help is very important, to work with the betrayed or unfaithful partner and find coping skills to have a safe place to release the painful range of overwhelming emotions. It’s important to acknowledge any painful emotions. To explore the extreme ranges of the unimaginable roller coaster of emotions, especially if the couple both want to consider couples counselling.
If you are the betrayed partner or the unfaithful partner, I recommend couples therapy or individual counselling to explore the unimaginable roller coaster of emotions.