How to get over betrayal in a marriage
The worst kind of hurt is betrayal
Infidelity is the betrayal our society focuses on, but it is actually the subtle, unnoticed betrayals that truly ruin relationships. Partners may be aware of this disloyalty to each other, but dismiss it because it’s “not as bad as an affair.”
Yet anything that violates a committed relationship’s contract of mutual trust, respect, and protection can be disastrous. When partners do not choose each other day after day, with each giving priority to the other, trust and commitment erode away.
This may not be another romantic connection. It may be giving priority to someone other than your spouse. For example, you may spend time drinking with your mates after football every Saturday, instead of going home to your wife. Or it may be telling your mother your secrets, dreams and disappointments rather than sharing those things with your husband.
Simple as that sounds, if your spouse feels in second place, and as though she or he has to compete with someone else for your attention and priority, then that constitutes a betrayal. It doesn’t have to be an affair.
Emotional withdrawal can also come across as a lack of commitment – and be experienced as betrayal
This can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.
Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship. It feels like their partner doesn’t have their best interests at heart, that they have their back. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the betrayed partner to blame a trigger as the real problem, when it’s actually the lack of commitment.
And of course, if there is an affair, that is the biggest relationship betrayal of all.
How do you get over betrayal in a relationship?
Anyone who has experienced the pain of betrayal will have asked themselves, “Will I ever be able to get over this?”
There are two answers here:
- One, yes, you can recover from a betrayal. Your spouse has to learn how to acknowledge your feelings, and not try to complain or explain.
- Two, your spouse, once understanding your feelings, must not repeat the behaviours. If he or she does, the feelings of betrayal are intensified.
A committed relationship requires both partners to be there for each other through the life-altering crises and everyday nuisances. That means celebrating joys and successes with your partner, too.
Even the little things, like not showing interest when your spouse wants to report something that Junior did that day, can feel like a betrayal.
Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves. In a committed relationship, it is the responsibility of both partners to uncover and disclose these preferences to understand what the other requires to feel loved, protected, and supported. Think of the Five Love Languages when working out what these preferences are.