Owing to the fact that dealing with infidelity is such a painful experience, we look for ways to escape. Much like the lancing of a boil, the touch required to drain it causes some pain. The normal response is to pull away. It is easy to fall into thinking that if we’ll just leave it alone, it will heal on its own. We’ll resort to ending the pain even in unhealthy ways.
It feels as though what we’re doing is making it worse. We’d like to address two of the most common unhealthy attempts to end the pain.
First is the infidel’s desire to spare the spouse more pain.
A common example of this occurs when the infidel accidentally sees a former partner. Or it may be that they are actually contacted by a former partner. The infidel withholds this information from the spouse. They know it will hurt the spouse and precipitate another long episode of grief.
Unfortunately, we have seen what happens when the information comes out later—and rest assured it will. The spouse feels he or she has once again been deceived. He or she has great difficulty believing the infidel didn’t initiate the contact or respond inappropriately to the contact. The healing process in the marriage is set back significantly.
It is so much easier to deal with truth. And when truth is handled correctly, the infidel has some control over how the spouse is exposed to it.
Acknowledging a contact will indeed bring questions. Don’t sidestep them. Be bold. Many episodes of adultery happen within the workplace, so unless the infidel or the partner has changed jobs, contacts will inevitably occur. It is best if your spouse hears this information from you. And if your spouse asks how the contact made you feel, be honest.
Dealing With Emotions
Most spouses are not opting to stay with infidels who are devoid of emotions. Therefore, an answer that denies emotions feels like a lie—again. A simple “I felt sad,” “I was very uncomfortable,” or “I felt guilty for just being there” followed by an affirmation that this marriage is where the infidel will be putting energy and effort reaffirms the commitment to the spouse.
The point is that one of the biggest hurts experienced by the spouse is the deception. Anything that even remotely resembles deception causes more pain. And we have heard countless times from many, many spouses that they can perceive when truth is being withheld. They may not be able to articulate what truth, and they may not be able to discern what is or is not going on, but they know something is up.
The second common dynamic we have seen is the attempt to short-circuit the healing process.
We’ll do anything to escape the pain. For example, let’s say it’s evening. Things feel almost normal at home for a change, and then the spouse brings “it” up again. More questions. You want to avoid what you know will occur if this conversation takes place, so you sabotage it using anger, avoidance, or anything that will create a diversion. The message to the one who wants to talk is to “get over it and move on with life.”
This is common to the infidel, but we have also seen it with the spouse. Some spouses are more than willing to avoid any conflict. It seems they are more afraid of the truth than of the illusion of healing. Again, you may feel better momentarily, but your relief will be short lived, and healing will not be accomplished.
Avoiding the pain circumvents healing.
Enduring the pain facilitates healing. If what you want is a healthy marriage, you must endure the pain. The good news is that God has promised to see us through the pain and to bring us out on the other side.
This article comes from the terrific book, Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity, written by Gary and Mona Shriver. It is published by David C Cook. This is an absolutely terrific book! It’s written by a couple who have been through this horrible experience themselves. “More than ten years ago, Gary Shriver shocked his wife Mona, with a confession of his three-year affair. There was also a one-night stand.” It devastated their marriage!
What we appreciate about this book is how totally honest they are in their writings and how transparent they allow themselves to become as they diary the gut-wrenching struggle— each giving their own perspective during the healing process. This book is a great roadmap to follow to recovery! We wish every couple that goes through this terrible experience could read this book because it’s packed with so much that could help them. The authors Gary and Mona can be reached at Hopeandhealing.us.
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Filed under: Surviving Infidelity