“Well, everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”
Facts About the Grief
Our society does not deal well with grief. Grief is the normal reaction to loss, but because our culture does not handle it well, you may have never learned to deal with your grief or with the pain of others.
Moreover, you may also have unresolved grief from earlier losses that you haven’t dealt with, and even, if that is not the case, you certainly have your fair share of sadness in your current situation.
You may not have shared your loss with anyone before. You might feel as though people would look down on you and see you as somehow deficient. You may have come from a family in which tears were not acceptable—or worse; they punished you for being emotional. You may come from traditions where it is okay to be sad, but only for a brief time. Many feelings are normal as we go through grief, but our emotional comfort level with them is connected to the families we come from more than anything. Repressing your loss may feel safer, but it is not beneficial for your recovery.
It will help if you start by realising that it is reasonable to feel grief after betrayal and share it. Trying to avoid it will only prolong your recovery, and even worse, it will lead you to depression. Recognising the losses associated with your spouse’s betrayal and letting yourself grieve is critical to your successful recovery, regardless of whether there is a resolution in the marriage or not.
Consequences of an Affair
The discovery of infidelity results in numerous losses:
• Loss of the person to whom you believed you were married
• Failure of the idea of your marriage
• Loss of your dreams for the future
• Loss of emotional safety in your marriage
• Loss of trust and confidence in your spouse
Reasons to Stay
Giving up on your marriage before allowing yourself time to grieve your pain and losses might be wrong. A sense of despair, anger and broken trust are inevitable after learning that your partner has been unfaithful. Forgiving is both art and ministry, and not every betrayal is granted such a gift. Sometimes the injury of betrayal is lethal to the relationship. Loving but leaving becomes the only choice. Remember also that self-centred people, dishonest, entitled, irresponsible, impulsive, and aggressive cannot remain faithful even with therapy.
Many decide that their relationship is worth saving, based on having shared good times in the past. Different couples have various levels of commitment and reasons to keep their union for themselves and for children that may be involved. Finding hope often comes through discovering a new perspective through our pain and trauma.
It is also critical for the unfaithful partner to help the other restore a sense of safety and to rebuild trust. After the revelation of an affair or other sexually inappropriate behaviours, it is unfortunately effortless for the unfaithful spouse to make a series of well-meaning mistakes which only complicate the situation.
How to help hurt partners regain trust and heal?
Avoid involving friends or relatives in your disputes and arguments, but see a counsellor and coach. You both deserve keen attention to your issues and needs, as well as privacy and neutrality. Your wounded ego may fool you into believing that you did or did not do something that could have prevented an affair. Remember, it takes two to preserve union and integrity, but it takes only one to damage it. You are not in any way responsible for your partner’s wrongdoing. Work on restoring your self-esteem and correct faulty self-accusatory beliefs.