Dealing With Anger And Grief After The Betrayal

man's angry fist dealing with anger - Pixabay punch-316605_640Marriage 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.

It’s Important HOW You Say It

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.

Hiding Info

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, it 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. There is 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. You will find 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.

Some of Their Feelings:

• They feel abandoned by their mate.
• They feel alone in their grief.
– It’s common to 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.
– Plus, 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.

Remedy

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.

This 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

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

  1. I have a comment. I knew the man I married since second grade. Everyone thought the world of him. He could do no wrong. We are both Christian (Catholic). We didn’t start dating until we were in college. Dated for 7 years and then married for 23 years…4 children. Then he solicited sex from men online for over 6 months before I discovered it. He lied, committed adultery, emotionally abused me. Served me divorce and custody paper a week after he moved out. I don’t want to be a victim…I want to be a survivor. I need words of wisdom and comfort. He was my best friend. He has bought a house with a gay man and obviously living together. No remorse. A well off house while I am unemployed and in debt to my eyeballs. I want to be helped.

    1. Dear Linda… Words can’t express how sad I am for you. I can’t even imagine how painful this has been –especially in losing your best friend, and the father of your children, plus the tough times you have experienced emotionally and financially. I have to say though, that I love your attitude. You want to be a survivor… not just a sufferer. With that attitude, I have no doubt that you will find your smile again eventually. As for what you can do… that is very difficult to say. I’m truly not sure. How I wish I did. But please know I care. Even so, you can’t make your husband come back to the straight life if he has no desire. Those are tough words to receive, but they’re true. Linda, you really need to talk to a counselor –one that is marriage-friendly. I wish I could say that we could help you –that is our heart, but we aren’t counselors –we’re marriage educators and mentors. You need deeper help than that.

      I recommend you contact the ministry of Focus on the Family. You can find their contact info on their web site at http://www.focusonthefamily.com. They have counselors on staff that can help you unravel this a bit. They don’t do long-term counseling, but I’m sure they would have some recommendations as far as how you can get help. Linda, I pray for you. I pray the Lord helps you, guides you, comforts you, speaks to you, and works in and through you in this situation. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart.

  2. Hi All, I am so sorry for all you pain and grieving. I am writing as a man who has, in fact, just betrayed his wife. Not in any kind of affair or sexual nature, I betrayed her trust in me in that I communicated with my ex-wife by email whilst we were going through a very rocky patch.

    Essentially, I have an older son from my previous marriage and he has fallen out with my current wife following a big argument, I was stuck in the middle. My older son is at university and comes to stay, his mum, my ex-wife, lives abroad. My current wife then did not want him to stay until we had managed to work things out. 8 months later this was still not resolved, then my son came down and stayed somewhere else. We have two little boys, his brothers, and he wanted to see them, my wife then refused. I was furious and insisted and he to to see them.

    From the very beginning of this, i.e. since my son was not allowed to stay, my ex-wife had been emailing me to see what was going on. I did not resist the emails as I needed her help with my oldest etc. however, towards the end she was really criticizing my wife and I did not defend my wife. Lo and behold my wife then found the emails and that is it, she now wants to end the marriage as she feels totally betrayed. I am totally devastated and lost. Our marriage has always been very rocky but I have always loved her and wanted to be with her. I am also angry as I feel betrayed, I feel that I was not heard regarding my oldest son and when we first met she assured me she would never come between us or make me choose, which is exactly what it feels like. She is now blaming me for breaking up the family and I feel so guilty and distraught.

  3. Hello, I just recently found out that my wife after 2 years of marriage, cheated again. I tried to see her view on why she did it again. She said she was drunk; it didn’t mean anything… I’m mad as anything; all I get is excuse after excuse. My question is – How do you deal with the feelings of not measuring up to a so claimed with smile well endowed 20 year old? She and I are around 40 years old. I feel more and more worthless. Emptiness, rage and HATE grow by the day??? We agreed to work it out but I am finding it harder and harder not to give up my vows and go for this beautiful 28 year old lady I’ve known for years and be like her. But I’m so confused. It’s making me more depressed to the point of just saying I’m out of here; let her lover boy toy pay her bills and bounce out. But I do want us to work out. My loyalty and kindness are being taken for weakness. I wanna smash em.

    Does anyone have any advice to help me see a more efficient way to live with the emotions I have before I go back to prison??? I know I’m dumb for standing by my vows but she can be an awesome mom and wife. Thanks.

    1. It’s hard to know where to start, brother. So, I’ll begin with one of the last things you said in your post: “I know I’m dumb for standing by my vows.” You’re not dumb. In fact you are man of incredible integrity, great character and compassion to stand by your vows (with loyalty and kindness) when your wife has cheated on you. She is the one who did a “dumb” thing. I can also assure you that the feelings you are experiencing are completely normal for what you are going through. If you read through any of the other posts with this article you can see the great pain people go through in trying to deal with betrayal. Sadly you are not alone.

      But I also encourage you to read through the testimonies, and view the videos in the “Surviving Infidelity” topic. You can find them at: https://marriagemissions.com/about-us-2/surviving-infidelity-testimonies/. In reading them and viewing these testimonies, you can see people in even worse situations than you who were able to turn their marriages around after there was infidelity involved.

      Because you are experiencing the harshest of emotions attached to this (emptiness, rage, hate, depression, etc.) I strongly suggest you contact the ministry of Focus On The Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY as soon as possible and ask for their counseling department. You can speak with a counselor there for free for one session and then they can refer you to a qualified counselor near where you live. The feelings you are dealing with won’t change just because you “wish” they would go away. You need to take care of yourself right now and THEN address there marriage issues.

      Your wife is what is called a habitual cheater. She needs help with the issues that cause her to continue to do this in spite of the fact she KNOWS the pain she is causing you. It’s the same as being a drug addict. They can be ashamed of their behavior, promise to change – and maybe do for a while – but then the draw of the drug pulls them right back in. This is what’s happening to your wife. She needs a good “marriage-friendly” counselor to help her or it is very likely she will not be trustworthy in the future.

      You don’t mention anywhere in this post if you or your wife are people with faith in Jesus Christ, so I don’t know if you would draw comfort and maybe a little perspective from the Bible. Jesus understood betrayal better than anyone. God still has those who betray Him. Even so, He reaches out in forgiveness to give us second and third chances and more, when we have done wrong, but truly reach out to Him. Now, that doesn’t mean you let your wife off the hook. She is still accountable for her actions and there are consequences for her behavior. This is where a counselor can help you to be released from the bitterness and horrible pain of all of this.

      I hope this helps you with all you are dealing with right now. Please know we care, and that you and your wife have been prayed for. Blessings!

  4. My husband was having an emotional affair for the past 2+ years. When found out he denied and then admitted the affair. Now our friends that where a part of this mess refuse to have anything to do with him. I sent out emails and copied all of them as to my exact feelings on the whole event. Same day someone smashed out glass from one of our doors. It has been several months now and I still can’t let the anger go. We have been together almost 30 years and are trying to stay married. I am so angry, hurt, and terrified I can’t sleep. I have seen a therapist and am on meds for depression. I pray each day that this will be over. I feel Ike I am drowning. Any suggestions on how to move past the anger, etc..?