What if you could stop reliving the images over and over again?
Isn’t it interesting how the mind works? How sometimes when something unfair, like a betrayal, happens, it acts like a battery and stores up the negative images, thoughts and feelings derived from experience, causing you to relive the moment of hurt over and over again, sometimes for months on end?
If that’s been the case for you, then don’t despair. There is a way to learn how to get over betrayal in marriage, heal the hurt and stop reliving those images. And in this article, I’m going to give you five of those things that, when understood and integrated, have the power to jumpstart the healing process so that you are no longer at the mercy of your painful thoughts and images. As usual, you can use the menu to go to a particular section or read along at your own pace.
IN THIS ARTICLE YOU WILL FIND
Have you ever eaten an artichoke?
I still remember the first time I did. It was back in high school during dinner at my friend Anna’s house. Anna came from a typical big and gregarious Italian family. I still recall the delicious smells inside of their home and how it felt to sit down at their long farm style dinner table filled with steaming bowls of pasta, sauces, crusty bread, cured meat, golf ball sized meatballs and stuffed artichokes.
I remember Anna asking her older brother Nick to pass the artichoke platter down the table, which he did never once looking at us… but I was looking at him when I had my first bite of artichoke. To this day, I’m still not sure if it was the flavor or my fascination with the beautiful Italian boy at the end of the table, but from the moment I bit into the soft and buttery artichoke flesh with its moist and tart bread filling, I was smitten.
To this day, the love affair continues, and stuffed artichokes is among my all-time favorite foods.
I am in good company.
Many consider the artichoke to be the “caviar “of vegetables. And yet the artichoke itself is just a humble thistle, a hearty family of plants that are generally considered weeds. And although many chefs prepare artichokes in elaborate recipes and complicated sauces to go with it, I’ve often preferred them simply prepared, grilled and bathed in some lemony olive oil vinaigrette.
The heart of an artichoke.
The artichoke has a tender heart at its core which is protected by tough layers of leaves. The leaves of the artichoke which can be prickly on the outside. You have to work through every layer of leaf to reach the heart. But my goodness! Once you make it to the heart of the artichoke, the flavor rewards are not only delicious, but they are highly nutritional as well. Maybe this is why Italian grandmothers warn, “Never trust anybody who throws away the heart.”
Is there a connection between artichokes and Getting Over betrayal?
I believe there is.
Because when it comes to learning how to get over betrayal in marriage and deal with the pain and hurt brought by their betrayal, many of us build similar protective layers around our wounded hearts, as a way of protecting it from being hurt again. Often, those walls we build take on the same prickly and tough layers as those surrounding the heart of the artichoke.
But, what’s the price of building a wall around a wounded heart? If you said isolation and loneliness, you’d be right. Because walls don’t just keep bad things out, they also prevent good things from coming in.
This is why building walls around wounded hearts doesn’t heal us — it hardens our hearts. What’s another word for having a “hardened heart?
If you said unhealed heart, you’d be right.
What is healing?
The word healing comes from the word khailaz which means “to make whole” and its closely related word health. Therefore, to heal is to make whole or to make wholehearted again.
What is healing after betrayal?
Healing after betrayal is a process of becoming wholehearted again. This a process of peeling away the layers of painful thoughts and images built up around the event and removing the fears and resentments that’s hardening the walls of the heart.
When I see an artichoke, I see a metaphor for healing after betrayal.
The road to healing after betrayal is a process of carefully removing one wounded layer at time, thereby allowing love and re-connection to flow back to our hearts and heal us. In other words, to heal is to remove the layers of hurt that has hardened our hearts.
Will it be easy?
Most likely not. Because our defensive layers are built to protect, and they can be prickly and stubborn. So, don’t expect your healing to be magically gifted. You will have to do some work to get there.
There’s a gift at the center.
But for those of you willing to take the journey and do the work of releasing the layers of hurt, there is a powerful gift waiting for you at the center.
There’s an energy so pure and powerful at the heart of you — one that no pain, no betrayal, and no suffering can extinguish. And pointing you towards that place is what this article hopes to do.
Are you ready to take the journey?
If you are, then you are really going to benefit from what’s coming up next because I am going to share with you 5 things I believe that every betrayed partner needs to do to begin the process of peeling away the layers of hurt they didn’t deserve, which in turn helps to fast track their healing process.
BEST ways on how to get over betrayal in marriage & fast-track your healing
Take the escalator instead of the stairs
I wonder if any of the following sounds familiar to you.
- Do you fall asleep thinking about what happened only to wake up thinking about what happened?
- Does it feel like you’re going through the motions of life but not really living? Are some days better than others?
- Do you tell yourself to just get over it, and yet you can’t seem to think of anything else?
- Do you find yourself constantly wishing it had never happened… imagining how your life could have been so much better if it hadn’t?
And what about your moods?
- Have you noticed you’re more prone to angry outbursts than ever before?
- Are friends and family using words like moody, irritable and hypersensitive to describe you?
- Are the kids tiptoeing around you for fear they might set you off?
And what about at night?
- Do you find it hard to quiet your mind?
- Do you find that your thoughts churn, turn, and return to evidence over and over again?
- Do you find yourself replaying the conversations, the lies, the stories, and the contradictions, hoping beyond hope to discover some new thing that will help you make sense of it all?
If any of this sounds familiar to you…
Then chances are, you are still in one of the four stages of suffering. If you don’t know what these stages are the graphic below shows the stages of recovery for betrayed partners.
Stages of recovery for the betrayed partner
The bad news/good news
The bad news is, there are things you can do to prolong the stages of suffering and delay your transition to stages of healing. The good news? There are also things you can do to jumpstart the healing stages.
When you are suffering, take the escalator instead of the stairs.
This means you need to do everything in your power to fast-track your way out of those stages of suffering as soon as you can.
I am not asking you to push or to pressure yourself (because that would only prolong suffering) but I am suggesting that if you have a choice between taking the stairs out of the stages of suffering or taking the escalator… take the escalator. (more about how you can do this, coming up later)
Separate the pain from the feeling of powerlessness
The other day, a terrible storm ripped through our town.
40 minutes later, all was calm but our neighborhood was a mess (trees, signs and fences down everywhere) and we were without electricity for two days.
By the middle of the second day of the power outage, my teenager became aggravated by the situation and says to her father, “Daddy, this really sucks not having power!” To which my husband calmly responded, “No, pumpkin. We don’t have electricity, but we always have power.”
And I believe the same insight applies to this situation because just like how there’s a difference between having electricity and having power, there’s also a difference between being in pain and being without power. Namely, one is possible, and the other is not.
To fast-track your healing, separate the pain from the feeling of powerlessness.
While, like rain, pain is a part of life — a little or a lot falls into every life — whenever people have the feeling of powerlessness is not. And what’s more?
The feeling of powerlessness is not a natural response. (It’s a learned reaction to negative stress).
Unfortunately, linking pain with powerlessness only takes a bad situation and makes it worse. Therefore, you take a big step towards healing when you acknowledge that although you might be in pain, you are not powerless.
→ Remind yourself: Although pain is a part of life, feeling powerless is a learnt reaction (and the two are not connected).
→ Remind yourself: Pain is temporary. But if you attach feelings of powerlessness to it, it will linger much longer than necessary. And since that’s the last thing you want, your job is to heal the pain and starve the feeling of powerlessness.
Don’t let the fear of recurrence win
I once had a client who was a municipal court judge. I remember one day he told me that one of the first things they teach you when you get on the bench is this:
I thought, “This is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind, especially when you find yourself in the position of having to assess the risks associated with a person’s past behavior and the likelihood of them repeating those behaviors.”
A lot of betrayed partners find themselves in a very similar position, where they have to make these types of assessments, like a judge has to sometimes make in a courtroom.
3 Kinds of assessments a betrayed partner has to make
Risk assessment: Is this person worth a second chance?
Predictive assessment: What is the likelihood of history repeating itself?
Future pain assessment: What If I am blindsided, hurt or cheated on again?
Did you notice something?
If you look closely at each of the assessments, you’ll discover they all have one thing in common: They’re rooted in some type of fear.
What is fear?
Here’s a definition that I’ve always found useful: Fear is the confident expectation of a negative result. Therefore, we could say: Fear is a confident expectation (prediction) of a negative result (pain).
Keep this in mind…
Your fears (confident expectation of pain) don’t have to be rational. They don’t have to be logical. And they don’t even have to make sense to create negative stress.
Fear and suffering are attached like Siamese twins. You won’t have one without the other two siblings. And if that’s true (and it is), then it only stands to reason that if you remove the fear, you end the suffering. (read that again)
Here’s the thing.
Of the different fears the mind produces after being blindsided by betrayal, there is one fear that stands head and shoulders above the rest. I consider this fear to be the “king pin” among fears because it generates so much suffering.
Can you guess what it is?
You probably can. I am talking about the fear of recurrence.
What is the fear of recurrence? (F.O.R.)
Fear of recurrence is a term coined by cancer survivors to describe the anxiety people experience when they consider that a cancer might come back or progress.
#1 Source of suffering: The fear of recurrence
Betrayed partners (who are infidelity survivors) experience a similar type of fear. For many, it’s not just the current betrayal that produces the most suffering or stress; it’s the fear of being cheated again (recurrence) that is doing the most damage.
How fear of recurrence shows up for betrayed partners
- Fear of the betrayal being repeated
- Fear of you being blindsided again
- Fear of you being duped/cheated on again
- Fear of the affair not actually being over, but just being hidden
- Fear of the affair restarting again in the future
- Fear of more information coming out in the future
- Fear of you regretting forgiving or of you giving a second chance
How this fear is created:
Fear of recurrence is created when we predict a painful future (the betrayal happening again) and then make a painful image of how that future moment would feel if it were happening right now.
Here’s that formula again:
- Make a negative prediction
- Treat your prediction as a fact
- Make painful images of how that future would feel
- Experience those feelings now
Did you notice? (You probably did.) The fear of recurrence is based on your negative prediction about the other person’s future.
In effect, what you are doing is pre-convicting — treating them as guilty of a future offense. And then penalizing them (and yourself) for that future offense today.
It doesn’t seem ethical does it? Think back to the advice the municipal court judge gave us earlier.
- “Better a guilty man goes free than an innocent man goes to jail.”
When we apply the fear of recurrence formula, it now becomes:
- “Better an innocent man goes to jail than a guilty man goes free.”
Which judge would you want to face?
Would you prefer the judge that subscribes to the first or the second type of logic? If you think the second one is better, then you have only one thing left to do to not let the fear of recurrence win.
Don’t let the fear of recurrence win.
Imagine there are only two futures in front of you: A future without recurrence and a future where history repeats itself.
And the best part? You get to predict which one wins.
Now ask yourself: How would you feel if you had no fear of a future where history repeats itself? If you said happier, you would be right.
Remove the obstacles to healing
It might surprise you to discover that although betrayal is painful, many people are actually afraid of healing that pain.
I know it sounds totally irrational… and yet it happens.
Sadly, I have seen betrayed partners stay stuck in the stages of suffering and carry the pain brought on by hurt they didn’t deserve far longer than necessary, all because they were afraid to heal.
What causes the fear of healing after infidelity?
The simple answer is confusion. When it comes to healing after betrayal, there’s many erroneous beliefs around healing. These beliefs, if left unchecked, often create confusion which then turns into fear.
When confusion turns into fear, those fears create obstacles to our healing. That’s why the third step in your healing process is to remove the obstacles that cause fear of healing.
Are you ready to do that? Good. Because coming up next are the top six obstacles that cause fear of healing, and therefore prolong the stages of suffering, along with my suggestions on how to overcome them.
biggest obstacles to healing
& how to remove them
OBSTACLE 01: Believing that staying angry gives me power
It’s an irrational (and seductive) belief that anger gives us power. But does it really? Or is it just a ruse to hide the fact that we actually feel powerless? That’s something to think about, huh?
Remind yourself that anger doesn’t give any more power than a lampshade gives a lamp electricity. Remember, anger is a cover emotion. So, ask yourself: What are you using your anger as a cover for?
OBSTACLE 02: Thinking that staying hurt gives me control
This is a victim’s coping strategy. In an effort to reverse the injustice done to them, many people hold on to the hurt and then use their pain as an excuse to hurt others. But does it work? Can you really find happiness by collecting injustices and using those injustices to control others? I don’t believe you can.
Remind yourself that all victim coping strategies are learned behaviors and therefore can be easily abandoned once you clearly see how unattractive it makes you look.
OBSTACLE 03: Assuming it's not your responsibility to heal
This is another type of learned helplessness. It comes from the belief that those who cause us harm are also responsible to bring us healing. This is why so many betrayed partners wait in vain for their wayward partners to do something to make them feel better.
Sadly, waiting for those who hurt you to be the ones who heal you is like waiting for a bee that stings you to come back and soothe your wound.
Remind yourself that allowing yourself to heal is an act of radical self-care. So regardless of who or what it was that caused the hurt, the healing is your responsibility.
OBSTACLE 04: Believing if I stay hurt, it will teach them a lesson
Here’s the essence of this belief: If I punish, pressure, and cause them to hurt like I’m hurting, they will feel the pain I feel, and that will teach them a lesson and make them change for the better.
But does it really work?
I’m not convinced it does. From my observation, punishment doesn’t automatically correct behavior (or else, the prison system wouldn’t be a revolving door for repeat offenders).
If you want to look at the reality of what punishment induces, it’s more like compliance at best. This is where people do right for fear of being caught, but not from the desire to do right.
Watch out! Beneath the mask of compliance lurks defiance. Staying hurt in order to teach someone else a lesson is not effective. Not to mention, it’s actually counterproductive.
Remind yourself that while punishment triggers compliance, it does not lead to correction. And so, if you want real change, you must inspire them to correct… not just comply.
OBSTACLE 05: Thinking that if I heal, they win
Here’s another irrational concept. If you were to let it go and move on with your life, then it means they got away with it. So, in order for YOU to win, you mistakenly believe you have to hold on to the pain. But when you hold this argument up to the clear light of day, you can see how illogical it is to believe that you must lose in order to win.
And now, drum roll please…
Here’s the biggest obstacle to healing after infidelity
OBSTACLE 06: Worrying that it's too soon to heal
I have clients say to me, “Suzie, I’m just not ready to heal.” Or they tell me they can’t get over the pain because the wounds are too fresh, and they can’t heal because it’s just too soon.
Am I saying it’s wrong for them to feel this way? No, I’m not. However, what I do try to help them understand is this…
“The decision to allow healing or delay healing is not a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of confusion versus clarity.”
Think about it.
Why would anyone feel it’s too soon to heal the hurt they know they didn’t deserve unless they were confused about the benefits of healing? That would be like a lottery winner thinking it’s too soon to cash the winning, ticket and that wouldn’t make any sense, would it?
Don’t make time the deciding factor for healing. Instead, make the return to peace the deciding factor. Ask yourself: How soon do you want inner peace to return? There’s only one answer: Now!
Make the decision to heal
Here’s something to seriously consider…
Healing awaits your decision.
It’s not waiting on time, luck and or the offending partner’s behavior; it’s waiting on your decision.
It’s not waiting on your wants, desires, hopes, wishes, dreams or even your prayers… it’s waiting for your decision.
Am I saying…
Is healing a decision? Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying.
Healing comes from your decision to allow yourself to heal.
Could it be true?
Yes, and when you think about it, it makes sense. Because healing is not something anyone can force you to do, and it’s not something that can ever be forced upon you. Healing is a decision you make for yourself.
About the healing process
The process for changing and the process for healing follow a similar pattern.
The wish to heal is not the same as the decision to heal. And the decision to heal is preceded by the readiness to heal. (more on this later)
What does it mean to make the decision to heal?
You stop waiting on something or someone outside to tell you it’s ok to heal.
You decide to trust that there is a place within you that is greater than anything that comes from outside of you.
Perhaps most importantly…
You decide to only do things that empower healing and avoid anything that interferes, inhibits or delays your healing.
Which brings us to the key question you have to ask yourself right now.
Are you ready to make the decision to heal?
If you’re not sure, take my self-evaluation quiz composed of 6 key questions to help you evaluate your own readiness to heal. (The more yes answers you give, the closer to readiness you are.)
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you answered yes to even one of the above, then chances are, you’re contemplating a shift out of the stages of suffering to the stages of healing after infidelity. If you answered yes to two or more, you are definitely ready to make the decision to allow yourself to heal.
So, there you have it.
Five things I believe every betrayed partner needs to do to jumpstart the healing process. The more of them do you, the more of the layers of hurt you peel away.
At the beginning of this article, I suggested that when suffering, if given a choice between taking the escalator or taking the stairs… always take the escalator.
Well, the opportunity to take the escalator has arrived because coming up is a brief intro to my Betrayed Recovery online masterclass. It has been designed to put YOU on that escalator out of suffering.
What is my Betrayed Recovery online masterclass?
It’s a video class which is the home study version of the exact same processes I’ve personally developed (and have been using for over 17+ years) to successfully guide hundreds of betrayed partners from being broken-hearted, to whole-hearted again… and from getting stuck in the stages of suffering, to being released in the stages of healing.
Taking this masterclass puts you on the escalator out of suffering.
Sounds like a tall order? (That’s because it is.)
But then again, this is no ordinary class.
When you take this class, you’re only getting the best of what works. Every module is packed with my favorite strategies and techniques… not because I like them, but because they have been tested to work, and they continue to prove themselves over time.
Am I saying I have saved my best work for my course students? Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. But you don’t just have to just take my word for it. You can click here to find out for yourself.
And as you consider that, also consider this.
It’s not a matter of IF you will you heal… it’s only a matter of when. Because even if your tolerance for suffering is high, it’s not without limits.
Eventually, there will come a day when you simply cannot put it off anymore — a day when the fear becomes unbearable, the negative feelings and images become intolerable, and the misery becomes too much for you to bear.
If not today, there will be a day when you realize, “I just can’t take this suffering and pain anymore.” And that’s the moment you begin to truly seek a way out.
I’ll leave the light on for you.
This website — all my tips, tools, ideas, suggestions, courses, articles, and resources — will be here for you then, just as they are now. But why wait?
Why put off your own healing?
Because while it’s true that everyone gets hurt, there’s no reason why anyone should hurt longer than necessary. Remember, healing awaits your decision. Make it sooner rather than later.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!
Keep in mind: While reading is good, it’s by experience that we are transformed. And so, if you’re ready to go from reading to experiencing healing for yourself, learn more about my Betrayed Recovery Masterclass. (You’ll be glad you did.)