Marriage Missions International

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

420 Responses to “Dealing With Anger And Grief After The Betrayal”
  1. Jane from United States says:

    Well, my husband of 10 yrs whom I’ve been with for 17 years and loved so much, cheated on me with my friend which we went and saw everyday, stayed the nights with, camped out with, and so on. I was told this but didn’t believe it. She was into girls; he even had her come to our 10th wedding aniverary at a motel and we went out. She was dating my cousin, which was a girl, and she looked like a man.

    Well, my uncle that helped raised me died and my husband sent me out of town with my cousin, which I was never allowed to go any where with, to go help my mom. Then my sister got really sick and again I was on the trip alone. My 6 year old son told me when I got home that daddy and my friend made him sleep in a different room, which he never had to do. He always slept with us. He said they were watching tv so that got me thinking the stories I’d heard were true.

    Come to find out his whole family, which I live beside, knew my family, and knew the friend had a abortion and that the affair had been going on for 2 years. They sleep together in my bed. I have 3 children and am from a different state. Where I now live I have no one to go to. He is a great dad to the kids so I can’t take them away from him so here I am stuck till all my kids are grown. How do I start to heal and not feel so hurt all the time and fear that it’s matter of time before I go through it again. Please help. Every time I get over it, it comes right back.

  2. Lisa from United States says:

    My HUSBAND of 20 yrs. has admitted to me that the day we were married was the day everything “changed” for him. I was a model, very outgoing, had many male and female friends. He was so jealous, of EVERYONE. I was no longer allowed to have friends, including his own sister. I went to work and became best friends with a girl. He began saying, “she needs a good man like me.” This became his mantra. Then it was all women we knew, including family.

    He began lying and cheating with my best friend, my sister in law, and God knows how many more. Over the years I became depressed. Drs had me on 11 different anti depressants. I blamed, as he did, myself. For several years I, once independent and confident and self assured, lost all self esteem. Got fat. Then he tells me he can’t “do it” anymore and he leaves. I fall apart, get 2 DUIs lose my license. Couldn’t pay fines kept going back to jail. For a good year. Chased him begged him to come to has senses. We divorced. Finally I got him to give it another chance. Then from a close family friend I found out horrible things. He’d hid over $10,000 from me. Had all my family and his thinking EVERYTHING was my fault. He had everyone fooled.

    I had a gut instinct intuition the entire 19 yrs. I FINALLY learned to heed. Needless to say we reconciled. I discovered AGAIN he was cheating, kicked him out, and have recently had to see my Dr. because he has given me HPV. I’m beyond hurt, anger. …I’m SO DONE WITH HIM. There’s no love left for him!!

  3. Helen from says:

    My husband of 15 years cheated on me. I found out 2 days before my birthday when the girl’s husband called to tell me about it. I was totally blindsided. I feel violated, embarassed, stupid, insecure and a host of other emotions. I thought this man was playing some kind of cruel joke on me. I confronted my husband and he admitted to the affair. I checked phone records and saw the number of texts going back and forth between the two of them. As if this was not enough, I also found two other numbers that were consistent for regular texts. As it turned out there were two other women whom he enjoyed sexting with and these two had been the pleasure of his interests for over a year. How in the world did I not see this coming? He said well we were having problems. That is no excuse for not communicating his displeasure to me. Apparently it was easier to ignore our relationship and go elsewhere to fulfill whatever needs he needed met. Such a violation to our wedding vows. Dear God keep me sane. We are trying to work it out…he is going to counseling and we have begun to pray together regularly. We also communicate more openly and he has sworn to make it up to me. He says he loves me and he will never disrespect our marriage or me in that way again. Lord help me. I want us to work out. One day at a time.

  4. Roger from United States says:

    We’ll I’m still in the anger stage after my wife of 24 years cheated on me and it adds insult to injury when I read this gender biased help info. Not all cheaters are men as is apparent from this writing. I was a Christian for 49 years. I don’t believe anymore but I wish I did, I still want to.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Roger, I’m so sorry that you see this as “gender biased.” It was never meant to be. As we’ve said in other articles and comments, there are MANY more articles written, where the wife is the one who has been betrayed. This is both in Christian resources, AND those on the secular side. I wish every article was written where both genders are addressed, recognizing they can either be the victims or those who betray. But unfortunately, this isn’t how it is. So, what we do is to try to find all we can that ministers, and hope that people can change pronouns.

      What I did do here though, is put a disclaimer at the top of this article, hoping people will better understand that we aren’t saying men are always the cheaters, and neither are women always the victims; the reverse is true too. It’s just this article that is written from this vantage point. We hope this will help.

      Also, please know Roger, that I grieve with you over what you have gone through and are going through. NO ONE could ever understand the depth of pain this brings the spouse who has been cheated on, unless he or she has gone through this horror themselves. I’m so, so sorry that you find yourself in this place. I’m also so grieved for you that your faith faltered as a result of this horrible thing that your wife did against you and your marriage. God gives us all the freedom of choice. Your wife used hers to poison your marriage and deeply, deeply hurt you. I’m truly sad for you and hope that somehow, someday you will be able to not blame God for her horrible actions. I pray for you, and I pray for other victims that post here. My heart goes out to you.

    • Arimos from Canada says:

      My friend, I feel your pain. Focus on your life and your healing. God Loves you my friend. Even though you may not be very happy with Him right now, you must understand He never wanted this for you! He is with you through everything. Talk to him in your quiet moments, yell, scream but do communicate. GOD is great. Hey, I physically could not move one more inch one time and a car picked me up and helped me. When I said I must walk alone again today, a mysterious man walked with me and listened to my plight. I felt God’s comfort. Reach out and you will too. The light is at the END of the tunnel so expect dark days and nights. Be strong Brother!

  5. Mark from United States says:

    This is from one man’s perspective. I am a chronic cheater. I wouldn’t say habitual but it has recurred in our long time relationship. We’ve been married 27 years. We were separated in 1992. I saw someone, but I went back home and we reconciled. Then that same woman I’d cheated with appeared in my community in 2005 and we emailed, and it happened again several times.

    We reconciled again, and it was to be the last time. Then this year it happened again. A few times over the course of one year. Now it’s over. I feel horrible for the pain I’ve caused her. I’ve thought about killing myself, but it wouldn’t do anything good and would hurt my kids terribly. We’re now separated in home until we can divide everything up. My reasons WHY are:

    – There’s always been something in my head screaming to get out.
    – She buys, buys, buys things and we’ve filled a huge house with far more possessions in every corner than I can imagine
    – I work out and care about my fitness; she gained a bunch of weight over the years and is taking pills for high blood pressure. She’s given into the aging process and is afflicted with all the things that go with inactivity and stress.
    – She cares so much about her work. It’s all she talks about.
    – She drinks too much, about a bottle of wine per night.
    – I am artistic, and musical. She’s not artistic, or interested in discussions about any of the things I am. She never listens to me play guitar. She doesn’t appreciate ME for who I am, and never says a single nice thing to me about what I do, or what makes me unique. This has never been the case.

    Our counselor once told me that an affair isn’t about sex. It’s sometimes just about lack of communication. I didn’t know how to tell her all the things I list above… but these are some of the reasons I was screaming to get out. Sex with that twisted, stupid woman I care nothing about is what killed our marriage, in the end – but it’s not the reason.

    I wish I would have found the words, and the will, to tell her these things above. I tried to tell her little ways, little things “You have to stop buying things. This is driving me crazy.” “I wish you would come work out with me.” “You feel so much better when you work out” etc etc. But these pile of reasons never built up enough to break through the mundane details and have that talk. If I did, I wonder if she would be just as hurt. I don’t know. Either way, it’s painful and hurtful. Now she has a reason, and someone to blame. I’m to blame, I realize that. I feel awful.

    I just wanted to give you my impressions of why I cheated. I didn’t know what to do. I was screaming to live a life apart: on my own. I never wanted to get caught, but I guess I figured that might happen. I don’t really know yet… it’s what I’m guessing. I know that’s messed up… but I’m just trying to understand my own mind. Thank you for listening.

  6. Arimos from Canada says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, First of all, my heart goes out to you all. May you achieve peace and bear your burdens with grace. I was violently removed from my matrimonial home of 14 years by my wife’s accusations of violence. These were untrue but the police naturally accepted her story immediatly and it was only after there was no evidence that they released me unconditionally. I phoned home to ask what was going on only to find a lawyer’s name, number and the home was up for sale. I had been gone for one day.

    We have several small children who have been devastated by this event. I’m mostly in pain for them. I mourn the time I lost with them. As for my wife, she called me early the second morning to tell me that it was all a set up to get rid of me, get government assistance fast, a free lawyer, and to get all the money without me. She then proceeded to tell me that she never actually loved me for the entire 14 years. She threw away the wedding rings and jewelry and said she lied to me the whole time because she didn’t want to embarass her family who paid for the wedding initially. After that she had no excuse to stay except to use me for money.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I gave her my heart and soul. I loved her with every ounce of my being. I never held her back, I didn’t force her to marry me, she made a choice. Now, I am the pariah. I support her and my children and I live in poverty. I can only say, that I forgive her. I find her immature, ignorant and selfish. We could have communicated better in our marriage and she absolutely could have gone her way earlier and not trifled with our childrens lives. My crime, marrying with my heart. Hers, lying to me for fourteen years and neglecting our children. I’m not even heart broken anymore. I’m just sad. I will now die alone for in my culture, a man gets one chance at marriage and true love… I chose poorly. I am where I need to be.

    Even though I walk alone, know this, your pain will be carried in my heart, as well. Let it be so! I am strong and I do not give up life. I will carry your burdens with mine away to a far away place where they will be laid to rest and you my friends can move on with your lives. Don’t look back, you’ll only see a lie. Look ahead where there is hope derived in Love. God loves us all… none of this was how it was supposed to happen. Peace.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      How very sad I am for you and for your children. And how I pray for you and your children –that God will minister to your broken hearts. I also pray that God opens your wife’s eyes to see the horror she has caused for all of you. Perhaps when her eyes are opened, she can make some better decisions that won’t hurt you and your family, as much in the future. Again, my heart goes out to you, as it does to the hundreds of men and women who are telling their stories here of how they have been victimized by their spouse’s betraying ways.

  7. Moxie from United States says:

    This article was sent to me by an ex-boyfriend. My “betrayal” was that I responded to a “Happy New Year” message from someone I dated in the 1980s, with a “Happy New Year :)” back. At the time I sent the message, my boyfriend and I were estranged. When we reunited, I deleted the message to the 1980s guy because I knew my boyfriend would be angry that I had sent it. Originally, when he confronted me, I denied it because I didn’t understand what he was upset about. I then sent a FB comment to my girl friend calling him “emotionally immature” because I didn’t know why he was mad. Once I understood that he knew about the communication, I apologized and promised not to do it again. In his eyes, my “betrayal” includes this message to my girl friend.

    We are both in our late 40s, have been dating for about 4.5 years, and this happened about 8 months ago. My ex-boyfriend has displayed extreme anger over this situation and feels that I’m not owning up to my cheating/betrayal. He calls me a liar and writes, “I hope one day you’ll realize just how much it kills me to talk to you the way I have when we’re fighting, I do it because I lost all respect for you. I feel betrayed in so many ways by you.” (He has called me names that I can’t even begin to repeat.)

    I know that what I did was hurtful to him and I definitely regret doing it. I feel that he’s holding this against me with an over intensity that is inappropriate. The “punishment” doesn’t fit the crime.

    I’ve been trying to help this man to understand that his reaction is not rational, and he needs help. (I am already in therapy because I recognize that my codependency leads me to create these types of problems by being deceptive and passive aggressive. I originally sent the “Happy New Year” message in hopes that he would see it and get angry because I was mad at him during our estrangement.)

    I’ve ended the relationship with my “now ex” boyfriend because I won’t continue without us participating in some kind of couples counseling, and his getting the help I feel he needs. I guess I’m writing this hoping for some unbiased opinions.

  8. Beth from United States says:

    My husband is a pastor. I first caught him using pornography when our daughter was 6 months old, about 15 years ago. I thought I would lose it, went to separate and couples counseling. He started traveling with a band, where he travels and stays away a lot, still pastoring though. I caught him cheating. Of course, he lied about it and said that women were after him. Come to find out he was cheating with prostitutes. He had been doing this for a year. He told me he would quit, but no, he just got sneakier. I started getting the phone records to find out that he was still having contact with several of them, the younger the better.

    I have begged him to go to counseling, he thinks that he is above counseling and told me that he had stopped and of course, he has not been intimate with me these last two years, even though he tells me it is me that is not intimate. I just found out this week that he called (this being different cause he usually texts them) one of them, the night that he was out supposedly working. I called him on it and he told me that she called him and he told her that he doesn’t cheat anymore. I know that he called her first, she called him, then he called her back.

    I am at a loss on what to do. I have turned the cheek so many times and I am trying everything to keep the marriage going at least for my kids sake, but feel that this is not right for me or the church. I am so angry, depressed and lonely, but trying to stay as positive as I can to keep up a good front.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Hi Beth, I’m so, so, so very sorry for what you are going through with your husband. He is absolutely delusional if he thinks that this is okay in any way or that he won’t eventually get caught. The Bible says “Be sure your sin will find you out” and I’ve seen it over and over again that this happens. Somehow, in some way, he WILL get caught and will be exposed publicly. And imagine what this will do to in being a stumbling block to so very, very many. It gives the enemy of our faith an enormous arsenal of ammunition to do great harm to God’s Kingdom work. There will be a horrible ripple effect on so many levels that he (you and your family) will have to deal with as he will be paraded nakedly ashamed through the public square. NO ONE is above counseling… ESPECIALLY him. He should know better.

      Beth, you have to be the hero here before this public parade happens. I encourage you to contact the ministry of Focus on the Family at http://www.focusonthefamily.com. They have counselors (some of them being pastors) on staff that can give you some good advice. They also have a whole ministry devoted to pastors and their families. But even if your husband doesn’t think he needs counseling, YOU need to get the specific help that is needed here. A line in the sand should have been drawn a long time ago, so it’s all the more important not to let more time slip away. I would not walk, but would RUN for help on this. You will need the help, as well as him.

      Also, if you go into the Pornography and Cybersex topic on this web site, you will find many articles, plus links provided to many ministries, who specialize in this area of life who can guide you (and your husband when he finally sees the light and goes for it). PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take advantage of the help that is available. Nothing should stop you; please don’t let it. There is too much at stake. He needs to get help and have accountability partners put into place. He truly needs help. He has reprogrammed his sexual set point. He is no less addicted than someone who plays with the worst of drugs. It changes his whole psyche in this area of life. The more you study this, the more you’ll understand how insidious this type of addiction is in the way it can totally alter a person’s brain. It can be brought back to a “normal” set point, but it will take A LOT –especially since he has been playing with these hot coals for so long… he WILL get burned.

      Also, there is a ministry that you can find at http://www.xxxchurch.com, which helps thousands of those who reach out to them. They would know how to best help your husband and you –the victimized wife. Please look around their web site. Read a few articles and contact them to find out how they can help you, and perhaps how you can convince your husband to get the help he needs. There WILL be a shake up in his life. It would be better if it came from your hand in being God’s colleague here, helping your husband to beat this horrible addiction. This is NOT about you or what you have or haven’t, should or should not do, but about him giving into temptations and running with it, rather than fleeing from it.

      It is so much better for him to “come clean” with his superiors than being “outed.” That’s not to say it will be easy for him, but to avoid the worst kind of public shame and humiliation he needs to humble himself before the Lord, confess his sin to God and your church leaders. We are praying for great wisdom for you as you move forward through this great trial.

  9. Bria from United States says:

    What do you do if you can’t prove it? There have been several accounts of finding porn on his phone, which he has locked me out of for years, claiming it was because I wanted to find something suspicious. He denied deleting porn off of our computer; I was aware of it being there and witnessed it disappearing after he took the computer from me.(HE NEEDED TO CHECK HIS EMAIL). Last but not least, around the time that I was pregnant with our first child and recovering postpartum, in his email account he had sexual related emails going to random women on a craigslists social media website. He was very secretive with his cell phone and traveling out of the house a lot around this time. I just can’t convince myself that he has not done anything wrong like he wants me to believe. He said that it has to be a hacker that has used his account to contact these women, but I thought hackers hacked for financial reasons. That just doesn’t sound like a good enough explanation for me. I feel so angry at him, I keep tying everything he has done to emotionally and physically hurt me into this problem. I’m on a roller coaster! I just don’t understand why someone would use his personal cell phone account to contact women for sexual gain. He will not admit to having anything to do with it. I am so hurt and so angry, my life is falling apart. Has anyone been through anything like this?

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