Recovering your Relationship after Betrayal

Addressing the Pain

Betrayal of a relationship occurs when the expectations you have are violated. This can be caused by many things such as creating debt, sharing confidences outside the relationship, not being there when something major happens, secret and/or excessive alcohol or drug use, and one of the most disruptive and hurtful is sexual infidelity or having an affair. The effect of betrayal is to break down trust. The assumptions you made cannot be relied on and it calls many things into question. Every relationship has an agreement or contract although this may be implicit rather than explicit and on examining it it may be that it is not the same on both sides.

An affair may feel like the ultimate betrayal of trust. You may feel so hurt that you wonder if it is possible to work through the pain and save the relationship. It’s not an easy journey, but it is possible to keep your relationship intact after an affair.

Some feelings that you might be experiencing following discovery of a betrayal include:

Grief & loss
Difficulty trusting anything your partner says
Fears and doubt

These feelings are common and understandable; however, unresolved feelings can result in resentment, which will further damage the relationship. Psychotherapy/Counselling can help you work through these feelings and begin the healing process. If both of you honestly want to save your relationship, then you’re off to a good start.

How You Can Start

The first step is to stop the behaviour that is a betrayal of the relationship agreement or contract. If an affair hasn’t come to an end or there is still contact with the “other person,” then this will need to be an important step if your relationship has an opportunity of being saved.

For the person who had the affair, are you ready:
To sever the relationship with the “other person?”
To be completely honest with your partner?

If the behaviour has stopped, the next step will be to effectively express your pain and hurt to one another without becoming angry or defensive. This can be difficult, as usually the one who has committed the betrayal wants to quickly move past the pain and guilt they are experiencing, in hopes of returning to a sense of normalcy. This can make their partner feel like they are on rollercoaster, as they are still processing their own grief and there might be doubts as to whether the relationship can be saved. Only you can answer that question, but I have met with many couples who have made the commitment and the decision to save their relationship.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Do we really want to save this relationship?
Are we ready to explore the impact of of this on our relationship?
Are we ready to face the challenges that caused this to happen in the first place?
Do we have the commitment to work through those challenges?

If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then you’re on the right path! You don’t have to go through this alone. I would like to help you as you take this journey to resolve the pain and renew your relationship. Take the next step and contact me.

Being Assertive in a relationship

Do you struggle to ask for what you want? Do you put up with things for a quiet life? Fear rocking the boat? Hate it when trying to say how you feel or what you want turns into a row? Would you like to be able to say assertively what you want in a way that is easy to hear and act upon?

Asking for what you want—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill. But sometimes in our enthusiasm to practice this skill, we over-do our own assertiveness and end up with a partner who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful. Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationship—thus avoiding the “alienation trap”:

1. Get Clear.
Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have. For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task in itself. Here, it may be useful to ask: “What would I like to have happen?” Focusing on a desired outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.

2. Set Boundaries.
Once you know what outcome you want, share it with your partner. Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body. With practice, you can clearly sense when you’re really expressing yourself. It can feel really pleasurable, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud. A good way to state your boundary is ”When you…….(do the thing I don’t want), I feel……… (the feeling that accompanies this experience for me – try starting with sad, angry, or afraid – most feelings are variations on these three) what I would like is for you to ….. (state the behaviour you want instead)”. These are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with your partner.

3. Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.
You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise. Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis. When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help unloading the dishwasher or what TV program to watch—both you and your partner get used to your assertiveness. It becomes easier for you to practice and for your partner to hear. Also, when bigger issues come along, you and your partner will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your partnership.

4. Give as Much as You Get.
Assertiveness is a two-way street. If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to your partner. If she doesn’t want you to use the bathroom when she’s in the shower, don’t. If he asks you to give him a half an hour after work before you talk and connect, respect that. When it comes to following through on a partner’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words.

If your partner isn’t respecting your boundaries even though you’ve set them clearly, it may be time to seek professional counselling help for you and/or your relationship.

Couples Counselling

Contact me now for a free consultation