The Role of the Betraying Partner
Most betraying partners truly want to heal their relationship but have difficulty not blaming their other partner in some why they chose to stray. Gender responses are often different. For instance, more men than women justify that decision by stating that their sexual needs weren’t being met, that their partners didn’t pay enough attention to them in general, or that they felt exploited in the relationship. More women than men traditionally cite their reasons for an affair as lacking emotional connection with their primary partner, a lack of availability in general, or inadequate romantic support.
In order to expedite healing, the betraying partner has to recognize that they must put aside anything they felt that drove them to give in to an affair until they recognize and feel remorse for the act of betrayal, itself. They are legitimately on trial for invalidating the worth of their primary relationship, succumbing to a self-serving motivation, and the willingness to risk severely wounding the other partner.
As now allies in healing the relationship, they must be prepared to encourage and weather whatever frustration, anguish, or retaliation their betrayed partner needs to express. They must be willing to stay the game for however reasonable time it may take, to put their own needs and underlying grievances aside, and to fully commit to the healing of their partner’s rage and grief. The more committed the betrayer is to the process, the sooner his or her partner will be able to heal.
The Role of the Traumatized Partner
Feeling devastated, humiliated, and broken are hard experiences to survive. Though the traumatized partner has every reason to be upset, he or she must work through those responses in a sincere and committed way, alongside of the other partner’s commitment to do whatever is mutually needed for healing.
The partner experiencing PTSD will most likely have wildly swinging mood changes, emerging experiences of underlying, unresolved issues, and agonizing waves of grief. While simultaneously feeling the need to strike back, run away, or feel immobilized, they must learn to self-soothe, create resilience, seek outside support, and commit to a renewed faith in a better future.
If, additionally, they’ve been the object of previous trauma, they must also sort out what is happening in the present from what they may have endured in the past, so as not to blame their partner’s current betrayal for something they did not cause.
Building a Future Relationship
Both partners must realize that their past relationship is over and that their goal is to build a new one that will withstand challenges in the future. When the partner who is the ally in healing merges with the partner who is ready to move on, they can create a new kind of sacred trust that can be significantly stronger by virtue of what they’ve been through together.
This process is not for those who want a quick fix, nor for those who hold fast to the past. Superficializing a true betrayal can create unresolvable pain. Similarly, carrying mistrust, anger, and pain forever will eventually destroy any hope of true healing. The betraying partner must take seriously what he or she has done. The partner who has been betrayed must truly want to rebuild the relationship and to ultimately learn to trust that person again.
Yes, I have seen partners do this kind of healing, and do it beautifully. They take the lessons from the past, learn to communicate courageously and honestly, and build something neither has known before. Their relationship Phoenix can emerge from the ashes of their mutual sorrow.
If you are interested in healing couples counseling, click the link below, or give me a call at 631.692.9689.