Cheating Spouse in Denial
Cheating Spouse in Denial
Have you found yourself in the midst of a living nightmare of dueling realities following the discovery of infidelity? Even if it has been several weeks, this lack of insight and empathy persists with your betraying partner. Your betraying partner is very defensive, may be even blaming you and can’t empathize or understand your deep hurt and broken trust.
The two realities, yours and your betraying partner’s. Your reality of infidelity, heartbreak, loss of trust and trauma. And your betraying spouse’s reality of everything isn’t that bad. S/he may rationalize it, declaring that s/he didn’t even have sex. Or if s/he had sex, it didn’t mean anything. Or if it was a relationship, s/he didn’t love the person. Or if you found proof that s/he said they loved the person, s/he didn’t really mean it, it was all a fantasy. What they while, yes it was bad, s/he admits s/he is wrong and said sorry and now why can’t you forgive and move on.
The gulf between your reality of the situation and your betraying spouse is astounding and disconnecting you further. It is stopping you from repairing and understanding what is going on, with your partner, yourself and your relationship. The idea to move forward seems overwhelmingly difficult.
Your betraying spouse seems unable to grasp or empathize with you and the loss, grief and trauma you are experiencing. S/he keeps demanding you tell them what to do. Telling them what you to cuts you even deeper. You wonder why are they so uninspired, care so little, think so little and feel so little that they cannot even know what to do to repair the damage done. It feels unreal that the person who has betrayed your trust, your heart your family now expects you to tell him/her how to fix it.
The more you explain and plead, s/he may apologize or say they feel terrible, but after a while they grow tired, impatient and angry. The focus seems to turn back on them and how you are making them feel ineffective and powerless. They keep focusing on how they don’t know what to do.
You may never have felt so disconnected from your partner or have them seem more like a stranger to you. This brings yet more loss and grief as it gets you to re-examine and question your entire life with this person. How can this person you love, committed your life to, perhaps even raising children with, now show little care, concern or empathy towards you, your feelings, your children and so little awareness to what they have done and the massive impact. You may be wondering if they cannot get insight to the enormity of their choices how will you move forward.
This is a very common situation that often brings the traumatized spouse into my office on their own. They are at a loss for what has happened in their life, to their marriage or relationship and who is their spouse. They feel stunned by the lack of empathy and insight their partner is demonstrating. They want to understand what has happened and discuss so that they might have a hope to rebuild the trust that was destroyed. But their partner seems intent on controlling the reality of the situation without taking responsibility for the situation and hurt caused.
Other times, the couple will come in together. The betrayed spouse desperate to have a real conversation and get their partner to see their reality, to feel his or her pain, to work towards establishing a common understanding of what has happened. This can be very challenging without professional help.
I help individuals and couples that are struggling with the denial and reality differences of what it means when someone breaks trust, the relationship agreement for the marriage or long term partnership.
Sex is only one small part of it. It is that often in these situations there was long periods of lying, gaslighting, stealing of time, money and energy from the primary relationship and giving it to someone outside the marriage or relationship. It is about one person taking unilateral decision that only benefited the betraying partner.
I’ve often seen many negative consequences beyond the relationship of an affair. There are health issues related to Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, there is lost money and accumulated debt. Reduced relationships with children and family members and even reduced performance at work. So the impact is massive and often overwhelming for the betrayed person to face. I help people work through these complex issues.
In therapy we work slowly towards developing the reality. Grounding in the here and now and getting to accountability is so important. Validating people’s emotions and realities are key.
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