Cheaters & Broken Hearts
Support for those affected by infidelity...
The Betrayed (Cheated On)
Whether you saw it coming or you were completely blind-sided, finding that your spouse/partner is cheating is absolutely gut-wrenching. I think we can all agree that it's one of the most debilitatingly painful experiences anyone could ever have, always resulting in broken hearts.
Probably the first thing to cross you mind is, "Why?" or "How could he do this to me?" You think of the time you've spent together, the children, the crises, the good times, the promises, the wedding vows... Then, of course, you want to know who it is. If you find out (or even if you don't), your next thought is probably, "I'll kill her!" But wait a minute...is that logical? First of all, do you really want to go to prison (or worse) for murder? And secondly, who was it that cheated on you? It wasn't her--it was your husband! Don't lose focus of what has happened. HE cheated on you and broke your heart. HE is the one who promised to love you, forsaking all others. HE is the one who chose to get involved with someone else! SHE might not even know you exist!
I think that very few of us are ever truly blindsided by infidelity. We have a feeling. We know it in our soul. Maybe it's women's intuition, but we just somehow know that something is not right. Our spouse/partner seems different. He seems distracted, and uninterested in what's going on around him. He's watching a movie, and you ask him what it's about, but he doesn't seem to know. He's a million miles away...with her.
Many betrayed spouses/partners know about the infidelity, but choose not to acknowledge it. I call that "looking the other way." This woman seems to be okay with the infidelity as long as he comes home at night, is a good father, and keeps the money coming in. She is usually one who has opted out of the marriage/relationship, and is there in name only. She has other interests (possibly other relationships), and no longer wants a sexual or romantic relationship with her spouse/partner. She only expects him to be discreet in order to save face.
Other betrayed women are simply unable to accept the possibility that their spouse/partner could cheat. This type of woman sees the signs, but she is too afraid to look at the reality of the situation. She looks the other way, but it's not because she doesn't care. It's because she is in denial. She refuses to believe what's going on right under her nose.
Some betrayed spouses/partners care, and are not in denial, but keep quiet about the infidelity because they are afraid of losing their marriage/relationship if they say or do anything about it. This person silently agonizes over it, hoping and praying not to lose him, but terrified that she will.
Still others are devastated, and fall apart. This type is unable to function normally. She starts missing work, neglecting children and housework, etc., because of the intense pain and overwhelmingly deep depression. She usually tries desperately to hold onto the spouse/partner because she has lost all self-esteem. Some even attempt, or commit suicide.
There are others who are betrayed, and "go ballistic." This person turns her pain and sense of betrayal into rage. She vows to make him pay. She promises to get even. She immediately either leaves, or forces the cheater to leave the home. She might become violent, attacking the cheater physically, or damaging his, or their, property. She might physically go after the other woman. She is through with him...but not really. Many people of this type carry that rage into the rest of their lives, damaging or destroying all subsequent relationships.
This, of course, does not describe everyone who has been betrayed by a spouse/partner. There are combinations of characteristics and personalities, as well as circumstances. These are just some of the typical ways we respond to the pain of being betrayed by infidelity.
Everyone who has ever had the experience of having a spouse/partner cheat, knows the way it feels--kind of like an earthquake! It seems that everything you ever knew as being stable is now shaken and crumbling out from under you. It's almost like a sensation of falling, because everything seems so out of control, and you don't know what's going to happen, what you're going to do, or where you will land. That's why it's important to take some time to let the earth stop shaking. Get your footing, and try to calm down. This might take a few hours, a few days, or even a few months. We're all different. But before we start making decisions we might regret (like pulling children out of school to move back to your parents' home in Florida), we need to get to a place where we can think clearly and see things for what they really are.
At first, you might imagine that your spouse/partner is planning to leave to be with his other woman, and at that point, you might be ready to toss him out on his booty! But after thinking about things, analyzing the details (what you can find out), and understanding how he really feels and what he wants, you might want to reconsider the "tossing him out" plan. If he is a decent man who made a mistake, he regrets it, and is willing to spend the rest of his life making it up to you...think about that. Is his mistake worth giving up everything you've shared together? Only you can make that decision, but I wouldn't make that decision without input from a counselor or therapist (or member of the clergy). Sometimes it takes an unbiased person to help you look at the reality of a situation, especially one as explosively emotional as this one.
Having a spouse or partner be unfaithful is a life-altering event, and one that few of us have the skills to cope with well. For that reason, if you've experienced this kind of betrayal, I suggest that you see a licensed therapist. There is no shame in getting help for anything, but especially not for something so painful. It changes your sense of self, and of your world. Trying to cope with this type of experience without help is like walking through a forest blindfolded. You won't ever find your way out.
However, regardless of what you plan to do, do not allow yourself to feel as if the world is coming to an end. (It might, but it won't be because of infidelity.) If infidelity could cause the world to end, it would've been over a long, long time ago. There is hope, and there is healing, and that's why you're here. Please let us help you on this journey to a better place...you will get there. I promise.
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