After the discovery of the betrayal, the other partner’s emotions are usually intense. The anger, hurt, bewilderment, betrayal, and numbing shock are almost overwhelming. The betrayed partner will be angry, and he/she needs the freedom to ventilate his/her rage. The language of anger is never pleasant; however, it is not only OK to say it with intensity and force, but it is absolutely necessary for true recovery to occur. People do not get better until they get mad.
If denied, that anger “goes underground” and eats away at the innermost spirit of the other partner. It is very important for the violated partner to be free to express the rage that he or she feels.
After the first surge of anger comes the need for information —what happened? When did it happen? How often did it happen? And so on. This is the time for the violated partner to ask the offender those all-important questions. Men seem to want to know the details of the sexual activity; women commonly report wanting to know if their husband loves the other person. Whatever the need, the information is important and shouldn’t be squelched.
There is no good reason to hide information from the injured partner at this point. The precious vow lies shattered on the floor —there is nothing left of the relationship to protect. Therefore, the infidel who has been discovered should share each and every bit of information that his/her partner wants to know.
Often the infidel thinks that as the questions come, he/she should tell only what he/she thinks is appropriate, so he/she withholds details, covering up certain aspects of the trail. Nothing will anger the wounded person more than being subtly deceived at this point by double talk or half-truths. Eventually, all truth will be known anyway.
This is the time to tell it all, or at least tell it at the level that the other partner wants to hear it. There’s a difference between the two. Many of people who have gone through recovery from affairs, be it emotional or physical, say that getting into too much detail can create tortuous mental images for the injured other partner that can haunt him/her for years. But you need to walk this fine line of disclosure and honesty carefully, and be sure to err on the side of too much disclosure rather than too little.
The ideal, of course, would be to satisfy the other partner’s need to know without ignoring any major revelations. The main point is to own up to what you have done and to admit humbly the full range of injury and transgression. Don’t try to alter the facts subtly to protect yourself. Just as deceit is no way to build a relationship, it’s no way to rebuild a broken one.
Withheld information becomes “unfinished business” that will have to be dragged along through the balance of the relationship. The more time that passes without the unfinished business being revealed, the more difficult it will be to bring it up. Should the relationship stay together, this secret will become an albatross around the neck of the infidel, who will have wished that he or she had completely “come clean” at the anger stage, when it was the most appropriate and helpful.
The power to continue the relationship has now passed into the hands of the wounded partner. His/her reaction-whether to process the affair is that if he/she expresses as much rage as he/she feels, he/she will drive his/her partner into the ex person’s arms. That could happen; but, remember, he/she has already been in his/her ex partner’s arms. You couldn’t keep him/her out of his//her arms before you knew about it; now simply being angry is not going to drive him/her to the the person-more is involved here than that!
Besides, there is nothing of the relationship left to protect by “walking on eggshells” at this point. If you are going to live together in harmony in the future, you need to live together differently. It’s time to start over. The most sacred aspects of this relationship have already been violated. Now you both have to begin to rebuild.
Grieving the Loss During the anguish phase, some recovery can begin. But it won’t be steady progress —rather it will probably be two steps forward and one step back. It’s a rocky time emotionally, but that’s part of the normal process of grieving the losses: loss of trust, of the one-pure relationship, and so on.
Just about the time that the violated partner thinks he/she is getting over the pain, it will suddenly resurface. But be encouraged; gradually the pain will become less intense and less frequent, and the good times between the down times will lengthen.
This grief process is similar to grieving the death of a partner. Violated spouses do indeed report many responses that parallel those of widows:
• They feel abandoned by their mate. • They feel alone in their grief. • They feel as if they could have done something to prevent this. • They feel like a marked person. They don’t fit in with normal couples anymore. • They have a lot of unfinished business with their partner that is now off-limits or has been overshadowed by what has occurred. • They feel terrified of the future. • They feel they should be doing better than they are for the time that they’ve been in it. • They will even pretend nothing has happened (such as the widow who sets a plate for the lost partner at the dinner table).
Grieving is important, but it is even more important to know what you are grieving for. Some find it helpful to list the losses on paper. I recommend that you try that, being as transparent and honest as you can.
Crying in front of other people as you process your grief is perfectly permissible. Grief isn’t always predictable, not always controllable. It is certainly all right to cry in front of the infidel. In fact, he/she needs to see and feel the damage his/her actions have wrought. Be totally honest about your sadness.
Guarantees One of the first things an angry and grieving partners wants is the guarantee that this will never happen again. The closest thing to a guarantee that the infidel won’t stray again is for him/her to feel fully the pain that he/she has caused the wounded partner. Let me underline this point: promises to “behave” won’t endure; neither will artificial boundaries such as a curfew each night after work.
The only lasting remedy is for the infidel to feel the agony he/she has caused his/her partner. If he/she truly loves his/her mate (and he/she usually does down deep), that will hurt him/her so much that he/she won’t want to inflict more on his loved one. But getting the infidel to experience the hurt of the partner won’t happen immediately —it could take many months. Remember it will take as long to recover from the affair as it did for the infidelity partner to get involved in it. So allow some time for him/her to feel his/her pain.
Here’s the link to the original article as well