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

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

  1. I am struggling with a situation in my home. After being divorced for 15 years my ex-husband split from the relationship that we divorced over and had to return to live in my home due to poor health. He would have been homeless if I had not left him return. He has been living at my home for 1 1/2 yrs and it is very difficult for my grown children and myself. He wants everyone to take care of his problems. I am extremely unhappy with him living in my home. His needs come before everyone else’s. I want him to leave but his family wants little to nothing to do with him. I feel myself becoming a very angry, uncaring person and I was never like that. He needs a liver transplant due to drinking and if he is blessed to receive it he will need 24 hr care for many months. I don’t think I can do that for him. I wish I could see a solution to this problem. My older son does not understand why I don’t want him in the house. I feel like this is affecting our relationship also. Thank you for reading my comments. Take care all.

  2. Focus on becoming a better person capitalizing on the sour experience of betrayal. Success is the best revenge!

  3. I hurt so bad. We were both 60 when we married. My husband went to a prostitute!!! He continued to see her as she blackmailed him and got approximately $1000 with the idea of getting more sex from her. He states he is remorseful and states it will never happen again. I go in these verbal rages.

    1. Hi Karen, How my heart goes out to you! I can only imagine how horribly painful all of this has been for you. I’m so sorry that you have had to suffer in this type of pain. It’s hard to imagine that we would ever get to that place when we marry one another. But as you so painfully know, it happens.

      I wish I had words of wisdom for you that would help to ease your pain. I don’t… I care, I’m praying, but I don’t have the words that I wish I could give you. However, we do have an article posted on our web site that may be helpful in some way. Pray, read, glean, and see what you find that you can apply. I hope it helps. The article can be found at: https://marriagemissions.com/recovery-husbands-adultery-prostitutes/.

  4. It’s been a year and I still cannot get over my husband frequently calling and texting an old girlfriend after they ran into each other. It was a month before I caught it and he says it was all innocent and they never saw each other since that day but just simply text and talked about the good old days. The early morning texting and late night texting is what I can’t get over.

    No, I never got a chance to see any of those text messages but my phone records show there were plenty within 37 days; he was erasing them. From my point of view he woke up with her on his mind and went to bed with her on his mind. We’ve been married over 15 years and I thought we had a GREAT marriage but at this point I am ready to throw it all away; this feeling has me with a “don’t give a darn” attitude.

    How I found out? I was sitting in the doctor’s office and he called me and made a comment about something and I said I wonder who he’s been talking to and decided to check the cell phone records and BAM!!!! Busted! He stopped, dropped, and rolled it all out on the table that day and has been transparent ever since (I think) but the mere fact that he would do this to me has put me in a different mindset about our whole relationship. We took a road trip and drove 3.5 hours and when we finally got to a stop, he told me he needed to get out and use the restroom…..NO….he went inside to give her call. Was she on his mind the WHOLE TIME we were on the road talking and laughing? THIS DRIVES ME NUTS! It was merely a text and phone relationship so why do I feel this way?????

  5. I tried to put what you said into practice and somewhat applies to my story, but of course everyone’s situation is unique in it’s own way. But I have what I say if someone asks if I’m married: I say, “I am but my husband is not.”

    After spending 40 years raising 9 children tending to my husband’s sickness, alcohol, drugs, ptsd and to top it off with infidelity, has taken over my life. Don’t get me wrong he’s clean and sober, provides for his family, gives me gifts, money or whatever I ask except respect, honor and love. As I said it has been 40 years andto I feel it is time to move on but how to Leave, Live my life without him but in the same space every holiday he spends with her; she even came to his sisters funeral came up front to give and get a big kiss. I snapped but my lady like upbringing stopped me. I cried for two days.