Getting Past Betrayal
Have you ever felt lonely, distant and angry in your marriage. You’ve thought about separation because you were so unhappy – but then you rationalize that things aren’t really that bad.
There’s no abuse, your spouse is a good person overall, he/she is a good parent…so why are you feeling so stuck and hopeless?
Maybe you actually push your spouse further away hoping they will give you do something bad enough that you’ll have an excuse to leave. Or conversely, you are trying to push towards your spouse – just to have them push you away and the distance grows…you become more lonely and hurt…you feel unsafe…
The reason for this distance is most likely based on distrust and betrayal in your relationship.
Most people think of affairs when they think of betrayal, but John Gottman in his book The Science of Trust indicates that there are 12 other types of betrayal:
1. Violation of commitment or waiting for someone better to come along.
2. Flirtations or emotional attachment to other people or with things such as money, drugs/alcohol or pornography.
3. Keeping secrets, lies of emotion or broken promises
4. Talking negatively about partner with family, friends or coworkers
5. Stop expressing interest in their partner
6. Not ‘being there’ for one another or fairly dividing resources, labor, finances, etc.
7. Lack or affection or unresponsive to one another
8. Lack of sexual interest
9. Emotional or physical abuse including social isolation, sexual coercion, extreme jealousy, humiliation, violence, damage to property, pets or children
10. Do not cherish, compliment or express pride in each other
11. Not meeting one another’s needs
12. Breaking promises and vows
Each time one partner betrays their spouse - the level of trust goes down in the relationship and the level of conflict accelerates. We are all imperfect and have probably betrayed our spouses in one or more of the areas above, but we probably haven’t taken time to correct or repair the betrayal.
If you want to reconnect with your spouse you need to heal from any areas of betrayal and work towards forgiveness. Gottman offers a three phrase process that takes time, understanding and patience from both partners. (NOTE: In cases of infidelity or deep betrayal – it is best to work through this process with a professional coach or counselor.)
Phase I: Express remorse and create understanding. This is done by the betrayer listening carefully to the emotions and beliefs of the betrayed without defensiveness. The betrayer must also offer genuine remorse and continue to be completely honest, open and gentle in the relationship.
The couple must discuss the conditions and relationship cycles in which the betrayal occurred. For example, was one person feeling lonely, was there a level of distrust or secrecy, etc. Through this emotional wounds are processed and both partners start to do for one another (tit for tat).
Lastly, the partner who was hurt accepts the apology and begins to forgive
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” - Anne Lamott
Phase II: The couple must learn to face constructive conflict and stop avoiding conflict. This can be done through practicing strong communication skills and expressing and meeting one another’s needs. The couple continues to turn towards one another and build more positive affection towards one another – creating new relationship habits and norms.
Phase III: Finally, the couple will start building shared meaning by investing in shared goals and dreams and begin to create physical and sexual trust.
The process takes time, love and commitment – but I want you to know that it is possible to rebuild your relationship. Even if you don’t feel in-love any more, or if you feel that the relationship is too far gone.
You don’t need to feel unhappy, hopeless and stuck anymore…
I’m here to help you through this process of healing and creating an intimate and simply cherished relationship. If you are ready apply for a free consultation with me by clicking here.