I used to wonder why individuals and couples who came to me in a state of crisis , near collapse, after the discovery of infidelity, never sustained their time in therapy. They fastidiously endured the critical initial phases of therapy. They would do anything to make the pain go away. And therapy is indeed a healthy way of going through this necessary process to healing. And then they would disappear.
I realised that what keeps them out of ongoing therapy is shame – shame for staying in the marriage/relationship and facing me is like facing their own shame. Something to be avoided especially for one hurt by infidelity as they already are cloaked in so much shame and self judgement that they eyes of a therapist can feel too risky.
Couples do choose to stay together and heal together with the hope that a new marriage will emerge from the ashes and tears. Despite society still stigmatising and rejecting the notion of infidelity, couples want to stay, especially if there are investments such as children and money and property. Its easier to leave if there is none of these shared encumbrances. You pick up your bag and head out the door . You spend years healing your broken heart alone. There is no escaping this pain .
Infidelity is what Terry Real , psychotherapist , calls “Shattered Assumptions ” . Typical PTSD symptoms kick in as you grieve the loss of what you once knew- the safety and comfortability of your person. Your two primary questions ,according to Terry Real, are : How could you do this? And how do I build trust in you to ensure this doesn’t happen again ? Settle in for the long haul. Be compassionate and caring of yourself, whether you are the injured partner or the partner who injured. Let me assist you to begin The Healing Game (Van Morrison )
TIPS ON WHAT NOT TO DO :
- Do not make any major decisions for the next 6 or so weeks. Crisis lasts for 6 weeks and only then can your brain think cognitively and reasonably.
- If there is abuse of any kind, especially physical abuse, plans to be physically apart for awhile must be effected.
- Do not beat yourself up when you crave sex with the person who injured you. It is a natural way of trying to reclaim what is yours and to restore your equilibrium into familiarity.
- Do not assume things will be like they once were. Infidelity happened as both of you as individuals and your relationship, ws vulnerable to infidelity. This is now an opportunity for trauma agrowth- for crreatign a new relationship
- Ignoring that infidelity occurred , and merely moving on . Talking , acknowledging , taking responsibility and showing your injured partner empathy are essential tools of healing. Going through this process is the healthiest way for “moving on”
- Rushing through the healing process is a mistake, I know you want the nightmare to be over, the pain to be gone. The only way is through the pain .Endure this initial discovery pain now to prevent being stuck in this grief state forever.
- Don’t assume the relationship is over. In the thick of the crisis it feels as if everything is ruined. For sure, the relationship as you once knew it , is over. Repair and healing is possible. A new relationship is now emerging.
- Do not share this trauma with others – especially not your children . it adds pressure to your healing process. Choose to speak to a therapist , a non judgmental therapist , or a family member or close friend woofers the same safe and non judgmental space .
- Asking for detailed details is a natural impulsive need. Consider how much detail you really want .
- Be accountable, be honest , Do not keep lying or withholding information to “protect” your partner – or rather , to protect yourself . Accept that little bits of information will keep coming out. expect this to happen as your brain is overwhelmed fro the trauma that it can be difficult to remember all the details immediately when you’re under pressure.
- Cyber Infidelity has shifted infidelity into another realm of pain previously unknown : there is something so profound about seeing the written words, emojis , photos and videos , phone call print outs, that makes you feel as if recovery is never possible. Delete these as soon as possible. every time you look or listen , you trigger new trauma for yourself and so hinder your healing process.
- Do not minimise the impact this discovery has on you- or the person who injured. Now is the time to be vulnerable – heck, what do you have to loose?! Throw away your pride . Let him/her/they know how much you love them , how insecure you are, how you are pulled into leaving but want to stay, how jealous you feel, resentful, angry, sad.. oh so sad.
- Revenge affairs are never a good idea. This leaves no space for repair, remorse, reconnection.
- Holding onto resentment is huge obstacle to healing. Therapy assists you to wonder about your resentment – it may well ahed been there before the infidelity which means it was a vulnerable part of you that contributed to the infidelity.
- Excessive mate guarding and device control is bad for your mental health and for rebuilding trust. Building trust demands tolerating what we don’t know about our partners . Distrust kills intimacy. And so accept that for man-years distrust, that ache in your gut, neck, shoulders , back, wherever, will be your new friend.
- Do not imagine that “I forgive You ” , “Im sorry” will heal you instantly. Trust takes between 3-5 years and then a lifetime to rebuild.
- Heal together, dont heal alone . Go for therapy together. Perhaps there was previously too much aloneness hence the vulnerability for na affair to happen . Lean on each other. Be aware that the person who injured you is also hurting and in need of care and compassion .
- Do not make the infidelity your whole relationship. Indeed in the first few weeks this is it, Your world shrinks into this part of your relationship. Once the initial trauma is over, see if there are other parts of the relationship that can be discussed and discovered. Staying stuck here bodes separation or a couple who choose to stay unhappily together forever.
- Do not think infidelity is a sign of an overall bad relationship. Many people are happily married and cheat. it is so importune two tease this out when processing the vulnerabilities that led to infidelity.
- Life cannot go on as normal. A new contract must be agreed upon , an agreement around accountability , device behaviour, secrecy and privacy., ongoing contact during the day, answering questions when the injured partner is triggered.
- No more contact with your lover unless you want to leave your current relationship and move on with your lover. It is essential that you terminate this with grace and dignity to all.
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