The feeling of betrayal is difficult to overcome, no matter how mentally tough you are. This is true in a relationship, especially a married one, because you invest your emotions toward that person. After all, you exchanged a sacred vow with them. When your spouse breaks that vow, it can be devastating – life-shattering to an extent. Some people experience such trauma that they see no reason to live again. For a few others, they are so deeply traumatized by it that they are unable to forgive or trust again. In order to understand how one might cope with betrayal, it is important to take a closer look at the betrayed spouse cycle.
This cycle differs between one person and another because every relationship is unique. However, this is a framework that you can use to help you understand how others are dealing with the same situation.
What is a Betrayed Spouse Cycle?
Healing after an affair or mending your marriage is painful and time-consuming. It won’t happen overnight, so do not feel frustrated if it is taking longer for you to overcome the pain of the betrayal. It can last for several weeks or months. During this stage, you will feel like you have no control over your emotions – you will find yourself sobbing to no end.
Understanding the betrayed spouse cycle will give you consolation with knowledge of the natural process of grieving and healing. It helps you gain awareness of your emotions and focus on the process of healing after a marital affair.
There is no fixed timeline for the healing, but if you know how to deal with your emotions properly, it can happen sooner rather than later.
Betrayed Spouse Cycle and Timeline
Recovering from a betrayal by your spouse is going to be one of the toughest challenges you’ll face in life. These are the steps you must follow to be on your way to full recovery.
1 – Discovery Stage
This is the first stage. It is often accompanied by shock and emotional instability. It could take up to 6 weeks for this stage to take its form. During this time, you gather all the information you need to know about the affair and make sense of what happened and why.
It is important for a betrayed spouse to go through this stage, otherwise, they won’t be able to move on to the next step towards recovery. The longer it takes to overcome this stage, the more difficult it is to build trust again. As soon as you are emotionally ready, be sure to face the problems head-on rather than deny that they exist.
2 – Reaction Stage
This stage is when the couple is ready to discuss their options in the relationship again. The partner that was cheated on will begin to assess what to do next depending on the gravity of the affair. You can only begin this stage when there is a full grasp of what happened and if there is empathy in the relationship.
The betrayed party might be asking a lot of “why’s” regarding the betrayal. The cheating party must be able to provide the answers. Otherwise, it will be difficult (if not impossible) for the cheated partner to be assured that they won’t be hurt again.
This stage in the recovery timeline can last up to 6 months from the discovery of the affair.
3 – Release Stage
This is one of the most critical stages in the betrayed spouse cycle. It is characterized by forgiveness (or lack thereof). This is when the betrayed spouse will decide if they want to pursue the relationship or end it.
Depending on what was established in the second stage, the door to reconciliation might be opened or shut down completely. This decision is something that both parties have arrived at. But no matter what decision was made, it is important that both parties have the chance to air out their sides of the story.
4 – Moving On Stage
The actual process of moving on is difficult to create a timetable for. As mentioned earlier, different people grieve and heal differently. Some might be able to move on after a few weeks or months, other people might take years. An important thing to remember is that during this stage, the couple has made the decision to move on with their life – together, or parting ways.
For couples that decide to give their relationship another shot, the recommitment process will be very shaky from the start. The cheating spouse must work to earn their partner’s trust again. And even if they have earned that trust again, it won’t be the same as it used to be. You need to stay true to the promise you’ve made upon reconciliation or that trust will be irreparable.
For couples that decide to part ways, the moving on stage signals a new meaning to their life. It won’t define it for the betrayed spouse; instead, s/he will exemplify how recovery is possible even after intense trauma. The process of moving on will also release you from the shackles of that betrayal. You are not only detaching yourself from the person that had brought you pain and distrust, but also from the emotional burden that came with such betrayal.
It is important to note that for couples that decide to pursue their relationship, you need to do so wholeheartedly. Refrain from the act of blaming your spouse for any mishap or arguments that you will have in the future.
Can You Truly Heal After a Betrayal?
When dealing with betrayal from your spouse, you need to acknowledge your emotions. Do not attempt to downplay whatever emotions you are feeling. This is the best way that you can overcome any pain or difficulty you are going through until you achieve full healing.
If you are having difficulty with healing and recovery, you can always seek professional help. They will be able to guide you through your emotions as you move forward with your life, with or without your spouse.
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