Probably all people on Earth have met with the infidelity of loved ones. If not personally, then with relatives or friends. No wonder this is the most common reason for all divorces. How to survive betrayal?
Our expert – family psychotherapist Marina Travkova…
Many of us have had to occupy one of the places of the love triangle at least once (and some have time to visit all three forms during their life).
It is customary to condemn the traitor and pity the victim – a deceived wife or a horned husband. But psychologists are in no hurry to do this, because the motives of betrayal and the situations in which this happens are different. Therefore, in their vocabulary there is no word “traitor”, but there is only “the initiator of treason.” And, studies show, he often experiences as high levels of destructive distress as other participants in the drama. The third party also suffers, because it is extremely rare for a mistress to be an insidious invader, deliberately taking away a wealthy husband from the family. Much more often, this is also a victim who fell into a forbidden relationship in search of warmth and protection, and then stuck in them, never getting what she was looking for. Usually, the third party is people who have had traumatic experiences, because of which they are afraid of relationships and deliberately choose the safer, in their opinion, free love.
“My dear, what have I done to you?”
There are a great many reasons for betrayal. Different researchers highlight up to 17 points! So this is far from only sexual promiscuity, on the one hand, and the inability to cook and take care of oneself, on the other. People can cheat on each other out of boredom, because life is stuck, out of despair, in protest, and also because feelings have died out or, conversely, are so strong that there is a fear of completely dissolving in each other. But more often than not, this family disaster does not happen for any one reason, because cheating is the crossroads of several roads.
Therefore, it is impossible to prevent this situation or return the prodigal spouse to the “stall” only with the help of delicious borscht or silk underwear. To prevent the “leak of intimacy” to the side, it is not enough to be virtuoso in sex or cooking. Mutual respect and good communication between spouses are very important. Sometimes people just stop hearing each other and cannot understand so much that they need a “translator”. For example, the husband is convinced that the family has an idyll, common interests, excellent sex, a complete absence of quarrels, and the wife complains to the psychologist that the husband is indifferent to her needs, constantly talks only about himself and, in addition, is bad in bed. Unfortunately, the proverb “A thin world is better than a good quarrel” is only about politics, but not about the family. “The thin world” is often a time bomb, and it is not for nothing that Irish folk wisdom says: “If you do not quarrel, then you are not made for each other.” But you also need to be able to quarrel: without aggression, shouting, insults, but constructively, calmly and benevolently, so that a good quarrel ends in a good world.
“This is not what you think”
By the way, cheating doesn’t necessarily imply physical infidelity. Emotional cheating is just as hard. After all, this is also one of the types of “intimacy leak”, when a spouse builds his “secret garden” with someone else, excluding his own spouse. And although there may not be sex between these people, there is still “chemistry”, and such a connection is no less destructive for a marriage.
In case of emotional betrayal, people, wanting to save the marriage, choose the tactic of denial as a defense. Or even attacks, accusations. They say that they had nothing of the kind in their thoughts, and the spouse (or wife) invents everything out of jealousy, out of doing nothing or out of stupidity. They can continue to deny everything, even when they were caught red-handed literally “on the body.” This is a very harmful and destructive strategy for relationships, in fact, gaslighting is a psychological abuse that must be stopped.
Do not blame yourself when you cannot immediately forget someone or someone who is “wrong” to love. Psychologists advise you to figure out what exactly happened, what exactly you lacked in your relationship with your spouse, which is why you let another person into the soul. Then you will need to evaluate what exactly the other person gave you, what thanks to him you understood about yourself, and try to try to bring this new yourself into your old, basic relationship.
Does the leftist strengthen marriage?
Oddly enough, sometimes yes. At the expense of a third person, an additional emotional (and not only) resource appears for some time. But for the time being.
However, betrayal does not always destroy everything. Much depends on the reason that prompted the person to commit adultery, as well as on the desire of the spouses not only to save the family after what happened, but also to make the necessary adjustments to the relationship. In this case, betrayal may not be the end of the marriage, but a moment of revaluation and a chance to strengthen the family. For some people, it is this painful episode that becomes a kind of inoculation against future betrayal. But, of course, this will take some work.
Forgetting everything and forgiving everything is far from the same thing. Forgiveness is not an action, but a long process. And to forget is to devalue your feelings, to betray yourself. But you can forgive if you can understand why a person did this and what each of the couple can do in order to prevent this from happening again. If cheating is not just an affair that both spouses relate to easily, but a real drama for both, then this difficult situation can be overcome together and even benefit from it.
Plan for the future
After experiencing cheating, it is important not to make mistakes that will only make it worse. For example, you should not:
- Find out all the details of the relationship. Do not rub salt on the wound, asking about the details of the extramarital affair. These bright images get stuck in the head for a long time, from where it will be difficult to etch them later. Also, you do not need to try to imitate your mistress: paint in the same color, lose weight, and so on.
- Keep the pain to yourself. Silence and endure, while tormenting, is dangerous. After all, it is chronic distress that can trigger serious illnesses.
- Make the situation public. Of course, you can cry to your best friend, but you definitely shouldn’t share this story on social networks. Time passes, the pain is forgotten, and the information remains on the network. More often than not, people then bitterly regret it.
- Involve children. It is only necessary to sort it out among themselves. You cannot turn children into accomplices in the drama and demand that they support one side and condemn the other. And in general, you cannot put them before a choice: who is more expensive, mom or dad? Children are not harmed by parental infidelity, but it is very harmful when they are faced with such a choice. Divorce does not mean depriving a child of a parent. Do not interfere with the child’s communication with the ex-spouse.
- Blindly follow other people’s advice. Especially when you’re stressed. In general, there are always many advisers at such moments. It is better to sort them out and continue to communicate only with those with whom it is warm and comfortable. And if after communicating with a person it only gets worse, it is better to remove such people, at least temporarily.
- Ignore the feelings of a traitor. The severance of extramarital relations is also a kind of loss of a loved one, the experience of grief, often through attempts to go headlong into something else: workaholism, alcoholism, drug addiction. If so, the traitor will need your support. Moreover, he chose you.