When You "Can't Get Over" Infidelity
"Why can't you just get over it?" "Everyone tells me I need to just get over it and move on. But I can't. Is something wrong with me?" "I just can't get over this betrayal?"
Wise King Solomon once noted that it’s easier to put up with the attacks of a fierce enemy than the betrayal of an intimate companion.
How true that observation is. Betrayal by a loved one, especially a spouse, is severely distressing and disorienting. It blindsides you because you never expect it.
Of course, it would be wonderful if both of you could always demonstrate the high level of integrity required to make your marriage thrive. But that’s just not realistic. You will make mistakes along the way – some bigger, some smaller. Infidelity is certainly one of the biggest.
But the betrayal of trust in a marriage may not just take the form of unfaithfulness. It also includes the veil of secrecy and lies employed to cover the transgression.
Lamentably, these lies can often do more damage to your relationship than the offense itself, even if they’re never discovered. They erode the foundation of your marriage – undermining the trust between the two of you.
Perhaps you have told yourself that if your spouse ever had an affair, you would be done. You would leave, never to look back.
But now that it actually happened, reality sets in. Walking away is not as easy as you thought. You suddenly realize how high the stakes are when confronted with ending your marriage.
What should you do?
The Pain of Infidelity
Betrayal hurts. Its pain stabs deeper than any blade could. It holds you in its throes for a long time, perhaps longer than some people feel is necessary. You may be told, in a direct or subtle way, to just “get over it” – either by your spouse or friends and family. But that just adds insult to injury.
Of course, you’re trying to get over it. There’s nothing you want more than to get over it. If only it was that simple!
You may be able to get through it by acknowledging the pain, eventually processing your emotions, and addressing the damage done. You may even get past it by finding a way to accept what has happened. But getting over it? Hardly anyone can just miraculously spring over a transgression and the damage it does. Let alone forgive the betrayer and never speak of the incident again. It just doesn’t work that way!
Your memory of the betrayal and the pain may fade in time, but you’ll never forget it. And in a sense, you shouldn’t just forget it. We all learn from what we experience – good or bad. This transgression is another opportunity for you to learn.
Granted, you may want this pain to go away as quickly as possible, but the suggestion to simply “get over it” is a harmful practice. It comes with a hidden danger – a ticking time bomb. Because, if things go on as usual too quickly, it may mean that your deepest feelings about the betrayal have not been addressed.
They will surface again!
Should You Get Help?
Despite all the pain and distress that betrayal heaps on you, there is a real possibility that your marriage can recover. The benefits of reconciliation by far outweigh the costs.
Nevertheless, in order to restore trust in your relationship, it is important that you look at everything that contributed to the situation. However, your feelings may be so overwhelming that you find it difficult to see clearly. You desperately need someone who understands what you're going through, someone to acknowledge the pain, someone to show you where to start.
That’s where professional help comes in.
A good therapist can help you and your spouse sort out your thoughts and feelings. They can direct you to look at all the factors that contributed to the breakdown of your relationship without blaming you for your spouse’s actions. And they will be there throughout the ups and downs of recovery, patiently guiding you in mending your marriage.
It is not necessary to get over to restore your marriage. You can move on by reconciling the infidelity as a part of your life experience. All our life experiences are valuable, even those that bring pain and heartache.
Seek Help to Get "Through" It, Not "Over" It