Relationship Counseling for Individuals and Couples
The Trauma of Discovery
The whole experience seems unreal. You wake up every
you can’t believe that it isn’t just a bad dream.
You don’t know
if you’ll ever feel safe again.
If there was a Richter scale for emotional earthquakes, the Discovery of an Affair would register a 10 on the Richter Scale! A Disaster indeed.
Some people recover quickly. The majority of people feel as if they have been in a powerful earthquake shaken to the soul and paralyzed. They are not prepared for the aftershock tremors that knock them off their feet and shake up their lives and their family.
In fact, the first minutes, hours and days after the revelation of infidelity, emotions are out of control!
The Emotional Roller Coaster - For Betrayed Partners
In the immediate days and weeks that follow a Discovery of an affair, the betrayed partner, AND the unfaithful partner are overwhelmed by their enormous losses. The Betrayed partner has lost the positive image of his or her life partner and the assurance of a secure, committed relationship. The Involved partner has lost his or her secret life and affair partner and faces the potential loss of marriage and family.
Both partners are miserable for different reasons. Because being deceived is not the same as being a deceiver, however, the betrayed partner is the one who is traumatized and can’t imagine how he or she will ever become whole again.
Here is what you can expect if you have just found out about your Partner’s Infidelity:
Irritability and Aggression
Some people are numb before the Discovery because they have turned off their sensors and become oblivious to suspicious signs. Others numb AFTER the Discovery.
Numbing occurs to protect oneself from the extreme pain that ensues after you find out you have been betrayed.
It is NORMAL for Betrayed partners to commonly review over and over and over again the period in their life during which the affair was possibly taking place. As soon as they lie down to sleep, they are flooded with images, memories and plenty of unanswered questions. It becomes very difficult to sleep. The pain is intense.
During the daytime, they get out calendars, and review dates, looking for missing pieces, trying to make sense of what happened in light of the Discovery. They try to figure out what was going on in their perceived life and how that coordinates with what was going on in the double life.
There is usually a deluge of questions immediately following the revelation, and the need to get these questions answered seldom satisfies the need to know. Betrayed partners turn into Grand Inquisitors in the days and weeks, sometimes months that follow until they believe that they have uncovered ALL of the secrets and lies.
This can be terribly difficult for the betrayed partner to constrain themselves. Most want to know everything right now.
The midnight interrogation leaves both partners exhausted.
Reactions of the Unfaithful Partners
Many times in an effort to answer some initial questions of the betrayed partner, the Unfaithful partner will be defensive and then turn to aggression. As the explosive situation at home becomes more clear, those who believed they had found their true soul mate are jolted back to reality, where their attention is suddenly on the marriage.
ResentmentSome unfaithful partners understand the need for the betrayed partner’s ongoing quest for concrete proof of the affair. Others turn on their partner and attack, as though snooping were an offense, worse than infidelity. With one couple, one man, whose wife read his incriminating e-mail correspondence, turned on her in a rage. He threatened her with divorce if she ever questioned him or check up on him again. They were eventually divorced as the betrayed partner refused to be threatened with divorce after the actions of her partner.
Ambivalent partners may want to do the right thing and make amends, but they don’t want to reveal too much about how they managed to carry off their deception.
They become frustrated by the constant hammering for details and searching for clues on the part of their betrayed partner. They feel smothered by the lack of privacy and personal freedom. When a period of indecision is followed by a commitment , unfaithful partners may feel that they should be welcomed back with open arms. Shirley Glass, PhD in her book, “Not Just Friends”, calls this the “Hi, Hon, I’m back” maneuver.
It’s not uncommon to hear from the unfaithful partner, “I said I’m sorry. Why do you have to keep bringing up the past? I’m here now, aren’t I? Why can’t we go back to the way things were before, and you get over this? I told you it didn't mean anything, it was just sex”.
Interestingly enough, although it is quite painful for the betrayed partner to witness the Unfaithful partner’s sadness regarding the end of the affair, grief can be seen as evidence that the illicit relationship is really over. It isn’t uncommon for the Unfaithful partner to feel shame, loss, and the fear that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
If you are the unfaithful partner, you know that having an affair is both agony and ecstasy. Now that it’s exposed, you are probably dumbstruck by how an innocent, life-enriching friendship could ever have turned into such a nightmare. You face a terrible loss with no social support and a lot of social disapproval. Because society disapproves of infidelity and frown on the self-centeredness associated with cheating, the unfaithful partner does not receive much sympathy for his or her unhappiness. Many unfaithful partners say, “Can’t you see that this is hard on me too?”
A clean break with your affair partner is the surest way for you to start healing your, and your partner wounds, whether you stay together or not.
How We Can Help
If you have discovered an Infidelity or suffering from the trauma of discovery, it's important to address this with your partner, sooner rather than later. Please feel free to call or contact me directly NOW for a confidential, complimentary telephone consultation about your concerns and to discuss your options. Contact me at (818) 859-6766 or use the Contact Form to the right to learn how I may be of assistance to you.