Dealing With Anger And Grief After The Betrayal

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Marriage Missions Note: Please know that we recognize that sometimes men betray their wives and sometimes women betray their husbands. This particular article is written from the vantage point of the betrayed wife. If you are a husband who is betrayed, please change the pronouns and glean through the information so you can be ministered to, as well. Above all, we hope this article helps you in some way.)

After the discovery of the betrayal, the spouse’s emotions are usually intense. The anger, hurt, bewilderment, betrayal, and numbing shock are almost overwhelming. The betrayed spouse will be angry, and she needs the freedom to ventilate her rage. The language of anger is never pleasant; however, it is not only OK to say it with intensity and force, but it is absolutely necessary for true recovery to occur. People do not get better until they get mad.

If denied, that anger “goes underground” and eats away at the innermost spirit of the person. It is very important for the violated spouse to be free to express the rage that he or she feels.

After the first surge of anger comes the need for information —what happened? When did it happen? How often did it happen? And so on. This is the time for the violated spouse to ask the offender those all-important questions. Men seem to want to know the details of the sexual activity; women commonly report wanting to know if their husband loves the other person. Whatever the need, the information is important and shouldn’t be squelched.

There is no good reason to hide information from the injured spouse at this point. The precious marriage vow lies shattered on the floor —there is nothing left of the marriage to protect. Therefore, the infidel who has been discovered should share each and every bit of information that his partner wants to know.

Often the infidel thinks that as the questions come, he should tell only what he thinks is appropriate, so he withholds details, covering up certain aspects of the trail. Nothing will anger the wounded spouse more than being subtly deceived at this point by double talk or half-truths. Eventually, all truth will be known anyway.

This is the time to tell it all, or at least tell it at the level that the spouse wants to hear it. There’s a difference between the two. Many of my counselees who have gone through recovery from affairs say that getting into too much detail can create tortuous mental images for the injured spouse that can haunt her for years. But you need to walk this fine line of disclosure and honesty carefully, and be sure to err on the side of too much disclosure rather than too little.

The ideal, of course, would be to satisfy the spouse’s need to know without ignoring any major revelations. The main point is to own up to what you have done and to admit humbly the full range of injury and transgression. Don’t try to alter the facts subtly to protect yourself. Just as deceit is no way to build a relationship, it’s no way to rebuild a broken one.

Withheld information becomes “unfinished business” that will have to be dragged along through the balance of the marriage. The more time that passes without the unfinished business being revealed, the more difficult it will be to bring it up. Should the marriage stay together, this secret will become an albatross around the neck of the infidel, who will have wished that he or she had completely “come clean” at the anger stage, when it was the most appropriate and helpful.

The Spouse Now Holds the Reins
The power to continue the marriage has now passed into the hands of the wounded spouse. Her reaction —whether to process the affair is that if she expresses as much rage as she feels, she will drive her spouse into the arms of his partner. That could happen; but, remember, he has already been in his partner’s arms. You couldn’t keep him out of her arms before you knew about it; now simply being angry is not going to drive him to her-more is involved here than that!

Besides, there is nothing of the marriage left to protect by “walking on eggshells” at this point. If you are going to live together in harmony in the future, you need to live together differently. It’s time to start over. The most sacred aspects of this marriage have already been violated. Now you both have to begin to rebuild.

Grieving the Loss
During the anguish phase, some recovery can begin. But it won’t be steady progress —rather it will probably be two steps forward and one step back. It’s a rocky time emotionally, but that’s part of the normal process of grieving the losses: loss of trust, of the one-pure marital relationship, and so on.

Just about the time that the violated spouse thinks he/she is getting over the pain, it will suddenly resurface. But be encouraged; gradually the pain will become less intense and less frequent, and the good times between the down times will lengthen.

This grief process is similar to grieving the death of a spouse. Violated spouses do indeed report many responses that parallel those of widows:

• They feel abandoned by their mate.
• They feel alone in their grief.
• They feel as if they could have done something to prevent this.
• They feel like a marked person. They don’t fit in with normal couples anymore.
• They have a lot of unfinished business with their spouse that is now off-limits or has been overshadowed by what has occurred.
• They feel terrified of the future.
• They feel they should be doing better than they are.
• They will pretend nothing has happened (such as the widow who sets a plate for the lost partner at the table).

Grieving is important, but it is even more important to know what you are grieving for. Some find it helpful to list the losses on paper. I recommend that you try that, being as transparent and honest as you can.

Crying in front of other people as you process your grief is perfectly permissible. Grief isn’t always predictable, not always controllable. It is certainly all right to cry in front of the infidel. In fact, he needs to see and feel the damage his actions have wrought. Be totally honest about your sadness.

Guarantees
One of the first things an angry and grieving spouse wants is the guarantee that this will never happen again. Often Christian spouses think that if they can just get their infidel partner to walk the aisle to the altar, confess his/her sin in front of the congregation, read his Bible daily, or be convicted by the Holy Spirit or disciplined by the church, all will be well. But nothing could be further from the truth. Any or all of those practices might be appropriate, but none of them will provide the guarantee that the wounded spouse is looking for.

The closest thing to a guarantee that the infidel won’t stray again is for him to feel fully the pain that he has caused the wounded spouse. Let me underline this point: promises to “behave” won’t endure; neither will artificial boundaries such as a curfew each night after work.

The only lasting remedy is for the infidel to feel the agony he has caused his spouse. If he truly loves his mate (and he usually does down deep; that’s why they got married and why he came back), that will hurt him so much that he won’t want to inflict more on his loved one. But getting the infidel to experience the hurt of the spouse won’t happen immediately —it could take many months. Remember it will take as long to recover from the affair as it did for the infidelity partner to get involved in it. So allow some time for him to feel her pain.

The above article comes from the book, Torn Asunder: Recovering From an Extramarital Affair -By Dave Carder, Moody Publishers. This book is very comprehensive and is a great practical guide for dealing with extramarital affairs. It’s very comprehensive because it carefully sorts out the different kinds of affairs and deals with each kind —giving very practical and insightful information. It doesn’t lump all infidelity together “giving over-simplistic spiritual answers.” It’s practical because “it deals with daily, gut-level issues both partners face.”

—ALSO —

Here’s another related article —this one written by Anne Bercht, who understands about anger “after the betrayal” because she dealt with it after her husband cheated on her. Whether you are a man or woman, the following advice could be helpful if you apply the principles that will work for your marriage after reading:

DEALING WITH ANGER AFTER AN AFFAIR

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Comments

524 responses to “Dealing With Anger And Grief After The Betrayal

  1. I just found out my wife of 11 years was having an online affair for the last 2 months. It’s a guy we both know from this circle of online friends we had met in the last 6 months. I’ve just been having this horrible feeling the past week that something was going on. We would all talk on this group fb chat and I just was getting uncomfortable with the way I would see him talking to her. Well, a couple of days ago I went on her computer and went to her fb messages to look at their private chats on fb messenger and it didn’t take but 5 seconds to see what I had been fearing. It was one of the worst moments of my life. Immediately I saw a naked picture he had just sent her and then I saw some topless pictures she had sent to him. Then I saw a message where he told her he loves her.

    I immediately confronted my wife about it. She was away for the afternoon so it was by phone but I just couldn’t wait –I had to ask her about it. When I asked her about the “I love you comment” from him she said she didn’t respond back to him and tell him she loves him. I’m so hurt and feel so betrayed. She says a couple of months ago he told her she was beautiful and she was loving the attention. The thing is I tell her she’s beautiful and gorgeous every single day. And I mean it. But for some reason she says she just thinks I’m being nice when I say those things.

    Sorry this is getting so long. It’s a long story LOL. Anyways… My wife and I are both overweight and she actually had weight loss surgery a year ago and has lost a lot of weight. I’m actually going to be having weight loss surgery later this year and am very excited about losing weight and being a very healthy person again. A week ago before I found out any of this she told me that she doesn’t feel attracted to me anymore. A lot of it is because of how I look with my weight. I was completely devastated when she told me this. I’ve always found her attractive –even when she was at her highest weight. She’s just changed so much since she had her surgery.

    Back to the online affair I was getting really freaked out my suspicions of the two of them because in a few weeks this big group of friends is all meeting up in another part of the country for one of the person’s wedding. I’m not going because I’m staying home to take care of our 3 year old son. And the two of them were going to be there staying at the same hotel. My wife and I have been struggling a lot lately with intimacy issues and apparently the guy doesn’t get any sex from his wife and I just put two and two together in my head. Two people who are both feeling unsatisfied. I know if I hadn’t found out about this they would have gone physical when they had met up. It makes me sick. My wife is still going on this trip but I sent a message to the guy telling him he better cancel his trip or she isn’t going. He has blocked us and deleted us from social media. I’m just so hurt.

    We’re going to be going to counseling in about a week so I’m glad about that. I just hate that I can’t satisfy my wife right now. I feel so depressed, sad, lonely, and rejected. :-( I love my wife with all my heart. It’s so weird I’ll feel like I’m ok and try to think about other things and then all of a sudden I get this wave of sadness and I start thinking about it. I forgive my wife, but I feel so hurt and don’t know how to get past this. Hopefully counseling will help.

    1. Hi David, I just read your post and I’m so sorry you have been put in this position! I am a husband of 36 years, we have 2 adult children. I must say the article above is very good. Also the one posted in “Getting Unhooked from an Emotional Affair” has very helpful information. That section you should read. I had online affairs on Facebook I’m sorry to say. They ended 11 months ago. The point made about the infidel fully appreciating the pain caused by having an affair is very good. Your wife needs to really feel what you’re going through. When I really “got it” and realized the destruction, which would happen if I didn’t stop what I was doing, it was a help for me to make the break needed. All along I felt very bad about our online contact… But I liked the attention even though I love my wife very much. My texts are in the section “Getting Unhooked from an Emotional Affair”.

      I hope and pray you both come through this restored and whole. It takes time. Your wife is in a strange place right now, she’s not thinking straight. I know I wasn’t thinking straight at all! The overwhelming majority of these affairs never last, these relationships are born in deception and they do die. There are many internet articles about the statistics of affairs… They are all pretty clear. One good thing you can do is share your feelings… As you have done here. If you have friends you can talk to, these contacts will be a great support. I hope these comments help. I can feel your pain, David. Take care… WP (Work in progress)

  2. Has anyone dealt with their husband going back to his ex-wife? She & the grown kids have been undermining out marriage for two years & finally he decide to just kick me to the curb & do it. I was blindsided. He made me look like the paranoid one when in fact more was going on that I obviously knew.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen it both ways where the ex gets involved… the spouse goes back and leaves the present spouse, but in one case, the spouse left the ex-spouse soon after and reconciled with present spouse (never going back to the ex again). In the other case, both exes stayed together and the present spouse was pushed out. Divorce eventually happened.

      It’s difficult to know how to advise you here. Your heart has to be breaking. I’m so sorry for this. All I can say is to pray that God will help to heal your heart one way or another. You really need wisdom. I pray that for you. There is no one size fits all type of advice that can be given. Just ask for wisdom, ask for God’s help, and ask for God to heal your broken heart. How I wish I could say all will be well. I know that eventually it will be as you lean into Him. It will never be the same, but God will help you to find the best “normal” that can be had, under the circumstances of your husband’s free will. I pray God helps you in the ways you need it. God bless.

  3. I found out my husband of 4 years was texting a girl from work and planned to meet up with her to “buy her a cup of coffee” after she expressed interest in him. He called me to tell me he had to work late, but unbeknown to him, another person from his office called to tell me his plans (she also had copies of the texts and sent them to me). He lied and lied about it all until I showed him I had proof.

    I have not yelled or raised my voice and have been very controlled with my tone and words. I don’t want to disrespect him. However, when I expressed today that I am angry and this hurts beyond belief, he accused me of “crucifying” him because he already apologized. I’m new to our area and I don’t have many friends. We have a counselor and went to see her yesterday evening. Today, I’m not feeling better, but now I feel like I have no outlet for my pain and I don’t know how to handle it all. I’m a Christian, but I feel like God is not even hearing me. There’s no comfort here. I don’t know what to do.

    1. Anne, I’m so sad for you, but am so glad that you found out your husband’s plan. Temptation is very sinister as it pulls us into situations we may never have thought of doing any other time, during a time of weakness. Your husband fell into temptation and started to walk in a horrible direction, but God, through His providence rescued him and you and your marriage. It doesn’t always happen like that. Many times spouses falls in completely immersed. Mercy, is the word that comes to mind, as far as God’s role in this. It may not seem like it now, but it is. The Bible says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” Sometimes the sin has raged on for a time, and other times, it is found out at the beginning.

      First off, I want to encourage you to say that you are headed in the right direction. You can’t expect something as horrible as this to be worked through over night. These are tough, tough issues. Your husband got caught and that brings out a lot of feelings he doesn’t want to deal with… much like Adam had to face his sin, after getting caught doing wrong in the Garden. He even tried to shift blame onto Eve for the wrong he did saying, “it’s the woman you gave me.” So, it’s not unusual for your husband to try to squirm out of facing his sin. But you have legitimate gripes here. Going to a “marriage friendly” counselor is a great step to work through something of this depth. But again, you won’t feel better over night. You both have issues that need to come out into the light and work on so this type of thing doesn’t happen again in the future.

      Secondly, I’m proud of you for how you handled this. What you did was approach this in a “meek” manner. Meek isn’t weak; it’s strength under control. You showed amazing restraint –especially because of the seriousness of this, and the fact that you’re feeling very alone.

      I don’t have a lot of answers for you except to encourage you to keep going in the direction you have, and keep pursuing healthiness in marriage. Perhaps this will help to wake your husband (and maybe even you) up to better connect with each other so temptation isn’t as easy to fall into. What he did was absolutely wrong… you did’t MAKE him do what he shouldn’t have done. But we can all learn from sinful times. Also, I’ll be praying for your marriage and also for you to feel God’s “very present help in a time of need.” From what I see, God VERY visibly showed Himself known in helping to bring this whole situation out into the light before it progressed further. That doesn’t negate the seriousness of this just because it didn’t go further, but it could have descended down even further, for which I’m thankful for on your behalf.

      But also, please know that this is a faith walk we are on, on this side of Heaven. I believe God is growing you on many, many levels. I don’t know what He has planned for you in the future, but I’m thinking that He’s trusting you to trust Him, even when you don’t FEEL He is hearing you. We are assured in the Bible that God DOES hear us and that He never leaves us, but I’ve seen that there are times when He appears to withdraw His presence –almost as if He’s saying, “will you trust me through this –that I’m here and that I love you?” He knows that you trust Him through the times when you sense His presence, but what about the times when He’s growing us for some reason we may never know on this side of Heaven? Can you stand up your F.A.I.T.H. –Forsaking All I Trust Him? Again, this is a Faith Walk we’re in the middle of on this Earth. God knows when it’s best to stretch our faith, and it’s in times like these that we just have to trust Him.

      During these types of stretching experiences I’ve been learning to just keep quiet, get into the Word, and wait it out, trying to keep the faith as best as possible. What I’ve seen is that if I do that, I eventually stand amazed at looking back to see that God was there at the time. I just didn’t see it –I was too close to the situation or I was wanting more coddling at that time than our Heavenly Father deemed necessary. I sense that God is saying to you right now, “Can you trust Me Anne, in this –that I am working behind the scenes? I’ll make myself more visible to you eventually, but can you trust me right now… praying, looking for wisdom, and trusting that I’ll help you along the way during this painful way?” I hope you will and pray God mercifully opens your eyes to this when it is the right time.

      “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ –to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) “Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright…” (Psalm 112:4)

  4. I found my husband of 26 years cheated me with multiple women in 2005. He asked for forgiveness and promised me that he would not do it again. Our 3 boys were still small at that time and because of my faith I forgave him. But He did it again on our 17th year Anniversary in 2008. And since I am a Christian and considering everything after he asked for forgiveness and promised not to do it again, we tried to move on even though I’m very hurt and devastated because of what he did to me and my family. With mixed emotions I am trying to cope. But after 2 years I found out that my husband has been cheating on me through different dating sites and even discovered that he paid membership of 2 different dating sites and registered for free with the others.

    I confronted him and he told me a lame excuse that he wants to discover what’s behind that business and many more excuses. From then on Divorce was always mentioned in our home. My husband never stopped cheating me and instead he went to the extent of picking prostitutes. It’s not until last October 2015 that he received a letter from my Lawyer that I am filling an Amicable Divorce that he calmed down and seldom sat down in his office at home.

    We tried counselling but it never worked out. It’s clear that he doesn’t want to divorce but I know that he is just buying time. I feel that I’m ready to divorce even if he told me that it would cost a lot of money and other threats and tries to manipulate me just to drop the divorce.

    Our boys are now 21 and 20 and I decided to look after myself now without taking any considerations even if he ask again for forgiveness. But this time I don’t believe or trust him that he will deliver what he promises, and believe that he will do it again if the situation gets better! I am sharing my story so I can hear different opinions from men and women who have had experience betrayal(s) from their Spouses! -Confused from Europe

  5. Hi, thank you for your article. I have been married for 18 years. I have two children. I am going through the most difficult time in my life. I am surviving and take each day as it comes. For many years, I felt unloved and neglected by my husband. He was going out far too many nights and regularly returning home early hours in the morning. Every weekend, I would ask him, sometimes with anger, sometimes with tears, why we couldn’t go out together, where he was going so often, who he was with, etc. He would every time reassure me, he was with friends, drinking perhaps a bit much, but not doing anything wrong. Despite my feelings, I carried on, working, looking after my home, my family, supporting him at his work, enjoying our family life together.

    Then I found a photo, then a name, then I decided to ring this woman. She told me she has been with my husband for 3 1/2 years. She sent me photos of them in hotels, shows and even selfies inside my car. She said he told her, he was separated. She also had suspicions but he always reassured her, the divorce would happen in the summer, than autumn, than winter, etc. We spoke for two hours. As I put the phone down, I couldn’t stand up. I felt sick and vomited. I felt I was going to die with the pain.

    I confronted him. He admitted. He said sorry, he cried, he begged for forgiveness. It has been two months since we physically separated. I am going through the most painful situation in my life. Knowing so many details of it, kills me. I have been diagnosed with depression and I didn’t eat for two weeks. Feeling better now, but the pain, the anger, are there. I have spoken to him many times, asked questions that he can’t answer. He says, he was stupid. He made a big mistake. But for three and an half years? How many more before that? The trust, the pure marital love is shattered. I feel the decision of what to do next weighs on my shoulder and with two children asking me to “forgive dad” is an unfair situation. Thank you for your article. I have been through so much pain that I feel this will never end. How someone can lie so much for so long is being my understanding.