How can we get over a betrayal?

“Still Angry,” in Corte Madera, wrote me to say that about a year ago her husband had an emotional affair with a friend and they ended up having a one night stand. “Still Angry” didn’t think her husband and her were having a tough time in their marriage at the time when that happened. According to “Still Angry”, her husband did seem to be spending a lot of time at work, more than he needed to be. He acted normal. He was loving and nice towards her. They were even making love. She thinks he was seduced because the friend was always all over him. She’s confused because she thinks he doesn’t truly love her, even though he asked for her forgiveness and he’s trying what he can to make it up to her. She has tried to forgive him, but her emotions are still raw and she doesn’t seem to be able to get over it. She doesn’t want to characterize him as a bad guy, but it’s hard to forget what he did. She wants to know “how do I get over such a betrayal?”

“Still Angry,” you just learned that he can act two faced. It’s different when you have been a complaining, whining,  un-sexy wife when he was hungry, so he decided to eat a meal elsewhere. There is a difference between that and a guy who can play games on both sides of the court. Seduced? I don’t think so. Unlike popular belief, men are not animals that can’t control their impulses. A man who loves his wife and is faithful cannot be seduced. Does he love you? I can’t answer that question; but I would say that what he did was a very unloving act.

I don’t know if you were being a bad wife and he was hungry or he just has a personality that can play on both sides of the court. In the latter case, I can truly understand why you would feel the way you feel because you can’t trust him. If there was no reason for his betrayal, (because- according to you – you were a terrific wife and as far as you knew, he was happy, never complained, was never forlorn and didn’t feel neglected) he’s just not a nice guy.

“I am all confused … “ How can you be confused? It’s either one or the other. He was either a hungry and neglected husband or he was a bad guy. Which is it? “I don’t want to characterize him as a bad guy because I love him…..” I understand that perfectly because there are some women who love a guy no matter what. Their guy can be in prison for murdering people, can beat them up, and can molest children …. and the women still want to be tied up to them. I am not surprised, “I love him no matter what he’s done,” is kind of sickening, but it is what it is.

“Still Angry” mentioned forgiveness. We cannot forgive if there is no real remorse, if there is no taking responsibility, or not doing whatever it takes to make it right. Now, according to “Still Angry”, he apologized. He bent backwards to make it right. And if that’s the truth, then to still be angry about it is out of the question.  She’s simply being hostile and holding it over his head. It’s not fair, especially since she decided to stay. For your own peace of mind “Still Angry”, you have to let it go because you did accept his apologies.

The fact that you’re still angry is very telling. You have not accepted his apology; and until you do, you will keep these feelings of anger going because it gives you a sense of security, power and safety. Reminding him of his misdeeds is a huge power trip. But if you do accept his apologies and let the anger go, you will have to trust him again even though it’s much easier to hold on to the anger. Often people in your situation say “I’m trying to let go and it’s hard.” If you really want to let go, you just do it. You make the decision and follow through. It is that simple.

I understand, though, why you’re holding on to your anger. The last thing anyone of us wants is for our lives to be turned upside down. That’s why denial is so important. The, “but I love him,” becomes a refuge. You can’t let go of your anger because your instinct not to trust him is stronger than your desire to have everything be the way it used to be. How do you get over a betrayal? You may never get over it (I wouldn’t, so staying for me would not be an option) but if you decide to stay you will have to let this one go. In the end, you are going to have to make a decision of either staying or leaving. Hold this one over his head long enough, and let’s see how long he’ll stick around. Not everyone is fond of being beaten up constantly.

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