How to handle betrayal by spouse? - Insight by Shivani Misri Sadhoo, Marriage Counselor in Delhi

Betrayal is one of the most painful human experiences. Discovering that someone we trusted has deeply hurt us pulls the reality rug from under our feet. It feels like you were taken advantage of, deceived, humiliated, despised, cheated, or stabbed in the back.

It comes as a surprise; that is why it is so painful. So you are left in disbelief and unbelievable pain.

But somehow, when we see or hear the word ‘betrayal’ we immediately think of ‘affair’. It is bad enough when a stranger or foe betrays you, but when it is someone you believed to be a close and trusted friend, partner, or spouse, it is more hurtful. But betrayal can be of any kind, and from trusted sources.

Anyone who has experienced betrayal in a marital or pre-marital relationship knows how difficult it is to recover from such an experience. You go through a multitude of emotions and question yourself a lot. The person you thought you could trust and count on is no longer the person you believed them to be. So you wonder what happened. Were you just wrong about them all along or did something change? Maybe your relationship changed and so did their loyalty to you. Maybe something in either or both of your lives has changed and they became insensitive to you. Or, maybe you both grew apart and in different directions.

You need to understand that there are many reasons that cause people to betray one another. Sometimes these are consequences of choices that are made with no intention of doing any harm to anyone. Looking out for one's own best interests can cause some people to disregard relationships they once valued. They may feel the relationship is in the way or not as important anymore. Feelings change.
And as feelings change so do one's actions and choices. Individuals who feel their needs are not being met in a relationship might feel that the relationship is no longer important or worth investing in. Therefore, they might seek ways to meet their needs elsewhere. This changes the relationship. Eventually, it grows apart and opportunities for betrayal emerge.

Betrayal brings many changes. Relationships and all those affected are not the same again. Trust is lost. Wounds run deep. Anger persists. Hearts are broken. Self-protective walls are erected. Pain is long and lasting. And we wonder.... Can trust ever be restored? Do wounds ever heal? Will anger cease to exist? Can hearts be repaired? Will the self-protective walls ever come down? Does the pain ever go away?

We need to understand that betrayal is an unavoidable human experience. All of us experience it at some stage or the other. The pain is very real and has a significant impact on the lives of all those who have experienced it.

Marital relationships or per-marital relationships do change as a result of betrayal; but ultimately, how it changes you is what matters. It takes courage to consider whether we might have played some unknowing role in a betrayal. Maybe we neglected our partner in some subtle way. Maybe we didn't listen well when she tried to express her feelings. Or, we repeatedly overrode his/her concerns and desires with our own pressing needs.
The possibility that we co-created a climate for betrayal can be an empowering realization. It offers a basis for hope that we might find some resolution by facing the issues that were being ignored in the relationship. In this case, betrayal can be a wake up call. And just as a broken bone heals after treatment, the relationship might grow stronger as we share our hurt, feel heard and respected, and communicate in a genuine way.

There is no fast and easy way to heal from the effects of betrayal. It takes more than time. It takes a heart that will not harden. It takes a commitment to believe in others again.

Every hurt has its own story and so does every healing. So how can you get out of torment and be yourself again:

1. Stop dwelling on how you were wronged.
2. Do not turn your pain into an ongoing drama.
3. Feel the hole inside you and grieve but promise yourself that you will fill it with happier emotions.
4. Don't act erratic and scattered with no plan for getting better.
5. Seek a confidant who you think can understand and feel your pain of betrayal in a non judgmental way.

Article is written by Psychologist Shivani Misri Sadhoo, Marriage Counselor in Delhi