Your cheating spouse betrayed you, breaking your marriage vows along with your heart.

But did your cheating spouse also commit what you would consider the “ultimate” betrayal?

In this blog, I’ll explore the idea of the ultimate betrayal, plus give you 3 critical tips for surviving betrayal—ultimate or otherwise. Keep reading…

Affairs and the Ultimate Betrayal

When you discovered that your spouse cheated, you may have felt that was the ultimate betrayal, as far as you were concerned. It didn’t matter with whom your spouse cheated—the fact that they could lie and cheat on you was shock enough. Cheating spouses are cheating spouses, right?

When your spouse breaks your trust, this is a form of ultimate betrayal. You married this person thinking they would always have your back, always love and protect you. But then, they went and had a fling, or a steamy, long-term liaison, and your world was shattered upon learning of their betrayal.

There are some affairs that can be even more painful to the victim: one that involves someone else in your life you know and love, whether that’s a family member or a close friend. It’s horrible enough when it is a faceless stranger. Your mind will play all sorts of tricks with you then, trying to fill in the blanks with information so the gaps in knowledge will close.

But what if there are no gaps to fill—it is a face and personality you know well?

For many affair victims, this is considered to be even more of the “ultimate” betrayal. Why? Because it’s a two-sided slap: your husband or wife has betrayed you, as has someone who knows you.

Betrayals of this sort can be especially challenging, because you are dealing with a loss of trust in not one person, but two different people at the same time. It’s one thing if the paramour is someone you don’t know: the betrayal perpetrated by the paramour is not personal to you, though it obviously affects you on a deep, personal level.

When it’s someone you know—someone you’ve welcomed into your home such as a friend, or a close family member, the pain cuts especially deep. A paramour who is a stranger doesn’t know you, so of course they really weren’t thinking about the pain they would cause you.

But when the paramour is someone you know and trust, you had an expectation that they would think about you and the pain they would cause. We expect our friends and family—in addition to our spouse—to want to protect us from pain, and when they don’t, it’s even more emotional pain to work through.

Surviving Betrayal

No matter how you define the betrayal, you still need to work through the pain.

Here are 3 tips for dealing with betrayal, whether you define your spouse’s betrayal as the “ultimate” betrayal or not.

Tip 1: Let Them Have It

When you first learn of a betrayal, don’t try to tamp down what you’re feeling: it’ll only fester inside of you. Those early emotions need a vent, and you need to tell the person or persons who have betrayed you exactly what you think and feel about their actions.

In the case of having two people you trusted betraying you, you just have one extra person to give a piece of your mind to.

Tip 2: Manage your Emotions

Regardless of the betrayal, you are going to have an onslaught of painful emotions to work through. If someone close to you other than your spouse participated in the betrayal, you have another layer of pain to manage.

Again, don’t try to tamp down what you’re feeling. You’re angry, in pain and disgusted—you have every right to be. One way to help manage your emotions is to write them down as they come. It’s a way to vent them without constantly feeling the need to go back to the perpetrators for release.

Even once (or if) the betrayers apologize, you will still have emotions cropping up that an apology can’t erase, so you need a backup plan for how to manage them. Journaling is one of the best ways to do this: it gives vent to the pain, while also helping you name exactly what it is you’re experiencing. Knowing what you’re experiencing is half the battle in knowing what to manage.

Tip 3: Manage Negative Thoughts/Images

Your emotions are fed by your thoughts and images, and you will have a lot of negative thoughts and images haunting you for some time. Again, writing out what you are thinking and what your mind is visualizing will help release some of the pain caused by them.

Also, you can begin to play with your thoughts and images by challenging them, reshaping them or running them backwards—all by working them out on the page or on a computer screen. Instead of your negative thoughts and images controlling you, turn it around so you are master over them.

My best to you as you work through the pain of betrayal.

What would you define as the ultimate betrayal?

Did your spouse do the ultimate betrayal, in your mind? How so?

Do you think it’s worse for an affair victim when two people have broken their trust through an affair?

Please share your ideas and personal experiences on this topic with other members of the community.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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