Recovering from an affair is a hard topic. Behaviors may be subconsciously of the betrayed that can sabotage or undermine their attempts to try and restore the relationship. I think some people, if they were to hear your story would be like, whoa, that’s more than what I’m dealing with. So we the unfaithful often feel like you guys, the betrayed are intentionally trying to wound us, shame us, attack. A lot of times the betrayed is unintentionally doing this. But we don’t believe that, we’re convinced you guys are trying to do some of the things that you do.

How does the betrayed feel?

Imagine how we feel as the betrayed. So when we have a trigger, if we feel shame or we have a reminder and then we start to rage or we start to marathon. Your assumption is that we are what trying to make your lives miserable. We’re trying to stick it to you. We’re trying to rub it in, we’re flooding. We’re upset because we just had a reminder or a trigger. That what we weren’t enough. You didn’t like us, you know all the litany of reasons that we feel rejected. And so from our perspective, we just start to come at you. And it’s not that we are intentionally trying to push you away. We’re actually crying for help. So how do we help you? Because if we try and help, we get shot down, attacked, shamed. It gets intense. The first thing you have to do is learn how to not trigger when we trigger. Okay, so you have to be able to stay calm enough to actually see underneath the behavior that is presenting in front of you in the same way that you want the betrayed spouse not to judge you by the presenting behavior of the infidelity, right? Yes. So you want to be understood like an iceberg at a deeper level. You didn’t just go out and intentionally harm us, devalue us and not want to be with us. You want us to believe that exactly how do we because so many times we are told you meant to do it. You wanted to do it if you loved me and all this stuff, but it’s it’s not necessarily one hundred percent true that we purposely wanted to hurt you, right? The best way to really have something sink in for someone is to flip it around and say. How can I believe that this is true from a different situation. So you know that it’s true that not all unfaithful, just run out and destroy their. Lives destroy their partners and their families. Then it makes it easier for you to believe me when I say, well. If you’re going to believe this and you want your betrayed spouse to believe this. Then you’re not going to believe that the betrayed spouse maybe doesn’t just run out and do these seemingly destructive, horrible things to you, but that’s really not what’s going on underneath. You got to be consistent, right, we have trouble being consistent.

How you should act

You may say: you want us to be empathetic that you didn’t just run out and have an affair or whatever. It’s not like you were pursuing it so you want us to. You’re not trying to lash out, attack and degrade us. You are dealing with emotional flooding. Your heart beats over a hundred beats per minute and you’re losing control of yourself at some level, your heart broken. So when you are working with an unfaithful, we know for the most part you’re out of your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of our brains that have executive function that we make decisions that we really want to make and we’re back in our limbic system in our amygdala. We’re making decisions out of fight flight freeze different. So the same thing with the betrayed spouse. We leave our prefrontal cortex and any logical rational thought process when we get triggered and we’re feeling unwanted, undesired and then we’re back here. You can help by grounding us by again giving that example. Saying, listen, like I know this isn’t really you I know that you’re angry, but we have to talk about what’s underneath, right. Just with me, we have to talk about what’s under. So you have to get close to me if you want me to be able to help you and you want me to help you because we’re trying to overcome this. And that becomes a problem because we don’t want to do that. Yes, we’re avoidant. Yes, we are intimacy avoidant as you clinicians. And so we are scared to death to be vulnerable because then we’re vulnerable and it’s like you attack us or maybe use it against us. What are we supposed to do with that? I’m going to tell you something and you’re not going to be happy about it. But if you as an unfaithful spouse run or boohoo or get enveloped in shame and whatever it is, self pity, ok, then we feel abandoned as the betrayed spouse again and we think to ourselves. Even if it’s not conscious, well, you’re asking me to burn for you, but you’re not willing to burn for me. By the way, you’re not really getting better because the reason you have an affair is because you can’t tolerate pain in yourself or in somebody else that you love at this point, we’re going to take notes. That was ok. Then one might understand one of the best things that we could do is be willing to work on us and confront our stuff because then that would probably help you slowly calm down and reground is actually better verbiage than calm down but ground because we would be able to give you insight and thoughts and vulnerability because we had done work. Is that fair, right. Yes, that’s correct. So that’s what I meant when I said the unfaithful spouse has to work on not triggering in flooding when the betrayed spouse triggers in floods because then you can’t help us now why you might trigger our flood because I do have some unfaithful who come in and they’re unfazed by a lot of the areas that the unfaithful can struggle with the marathoning, the raging.

How to heal in a relationship

The shaming one minute we’re like this and the next minute or like that some of them can be unfazed. They can stay grounded, so it’s figuring out what makes it harder for someone faithful to stay in that prefrontal lobe and really see their betrayed spouse for what it really is. It’s a child crying. Because they’re in pain. Okay, fantastic insight. Now here’s another one. So oftentimes we the unfaithful and I don’t know that it’s this. Attacking belief system. But we’re kind of like, hey, we’re doing a ton of work. I’m confronting myself. Like I’m trying to find out why I did this. I’m working hard. I’m doing this, but I’m not getting any empathy from you and then we get really weird because we’re like, hey, are a fair partner and I hate to at any level talk about any kind of comparison, but it’s just what goes on in the unfaithful. And so we’re like, hey, they were empathetic, but I’m not getting much empathy. I’m not getting much work from you. Like you’re not doing work and I’m working hard, but what about you. And then the betrayed kind of goes, oh, really, and the horror music comes on and it’s off to the races, but isn’t that kind of a valid concern, yes. So this is still related to prognosis. Which is whether or not the couple has a high chance or low chance of repairing and building a new relationship. So I was horrible with rick at the beginning with this because there are two things that come into play with this number. One is how much of your personality likes to deal with. Trauma or being slighted by retaliation or revenge. Spare, okay. So if you’re asking me then to develop empathy for you who harmed me the amount of indignation that can come up for the betrayed spouse, which was very high for me. It’s fair then the clinician has to really help them be motivated to even start with why should I even be asked to have empathy for what you have done to me and so you have to motivate them. Why why do they need to do this, well, because there has to be safety though. So here let’s have some dialogue here. We’ll do some hard hitting, so there has to be safety like I can’t be vulnerable with you and have you just attack me, throw things at me, get physical or just yell and scream or just withdraw. How am I supposed to get to the deeper part of me with my person now granted, I’ve blown that out of the water, but I’m really trying to reconnect with my person, right? So ok, now take personality into consideration. If that was me, this is why I was rick’s worst nightmare. So I would say to you, I don’t have to. You didn’t make me safe. Do I really have to do anything? So then he would say. Do you want to be this person? Do you want to model this to your kids, do you want to be angry and resentful for the rest of your life? It’s your partner. Do you want to have these feelings about your partner for the rest of the life, why would you want to be with someone if that’s how you feel about them, if that’s how you feel about forgiveness so you bring up other values that the person has that’s going to conflict with how they’re acting, then that can soften them. Make it more global. I think it’s a great point. We feel like, okay, you’re. You said this moving the target? Yes. So you want me to be here. And then you want me to be here. But when I do this, you’re not happy. Yes. And then when I do that, you’re not happy and then I’m confused and then because I am a control freak, like many of us are, I start to take matters. I get angry, I get upset, I lash out. I may even relapse. So why do the betrayed seemingly. Consciously unconscious or excuse me consciously or subconsciously move the target. So again, the iceberg theory and this is the value of the unfaithful spouse working with a clinician who can help see what’s going on underneath. So if you you have done work. You would know because I would tell you when the client when the betrayed spouse when we move the target, we are scared because we’re looking for safety, but the truth. Safety is an illusion. Once you go through infidelity or a big major crisis in life like that. Like you come out of the matrix. So it’s having to say, okay, they’re looking for safety and you have to be the one to say to them, I think you’re looking for safety. You’re moving the target and I understand why I know you’re scared. That’s my fault. I know you’re never really going to feel one hundred percent safe. Thank you for staying with me. But if you keep moving the target. I have to keep chasing you and then I can’t get close to you and we have the same situation that brought us here. Which was we were not connected, usually not all situations, but generally we weren’t connected. We lost each other. I need you, so I need you to let me pull you to me and keep you here.

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