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The Crisis that Infidelity Brings

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infidelityI work with many individuals and couples facing the traumatic fall out upon discovering infidelity. This discussion of this article is to focus on the aspect of why infidelity is so traumatic for the betrayed party. I won’t be discussing why or reasons that people cheat, that will be for another article. This article is focused on the experience on the betrayed person’s crisis.


When I work with the betrayed person they are in various stages of shock, deep traumatic fear and overwhelming and blinding pain. This is will fluctuate with deep anger going to rage often circling with optimism, hope only to be followed again by confusion, fear, loss.


The betrayed person’s world has been rocked and all that they thought they knew has been destroyed. Why is it so traumatic for the person who has been betrayed? Well for one reason it shatters their belief systems and creates a existential crisis of meaning and purpose and world. Often the betrayed party’s spouse, the one committing the betrayal, grossly minimizes what they did and do not really understand the magnitude of hurt, pain and injury caused to the person and their relationship.


What happens upon discovery of infidelity. Well there are immediate and permanent deaths. Death of the idea of marriage, death of the marriage the couple had, death of the spouse the betrayed party thought they knew, death of the family they have, death of the expected future the betrayed person thought they would enjoy and death of the idea of who the betrayed party thought they were.


Death is so painful. It isn’t just people that die, its ideals, values and ways of being. Infidelity bring into raw focus the ideals that individuals have about family, love, marriage, commitment and integrity. One of the most painful aspect of infidelity is that now people are forced into an existential crisis of meaning making. A person is forced to confront what they thought they believe and now actually find out what they do believe.


Very common, and unbeknownst to most people, is that what they call values and beliefs are really ideals. We never actually know what we believe until we are forced to test and enforce our ideals. What do I mean? Well usually people will have a belief that if someone ever cheats on them, their spouse, they will leave them. However, when this unfortunate act occurs in their life they are faced with the huge dilemma of what they ACTUALLY believe. Often what they actually believe and what they thought they believe, do not match.


People often are given oversimplified version of life, like a fairytale. However, in life, things are very complex, people are very complex and relationships are very complex. Things are never so simple as people cheated because their spouse didn’t give them sex. Or people simply end a marriage because someone cheated on them. These things are grossly over simplified. The moment you make something involving human beings simple, it immediately becomes complicated.


So following infidelity the people involved in the marriage are now faced with examining and deciding their beliefs and meaning of life. They are forced to examine past choices and behaviors that have present day consequences. They are forced to make present day choices that will affect and take away or give them future choices. If they have children, they are faced with how their present-day choices are affecting their child.


Too often, people grossly misunderstand the complex and long journey they will be heading on when they are making decision about their marriage, career and family. They want it to be simply a task of forgiveness and quickly move on. However, to forgive and move on you must understand what is. You must evaluate yourself, your behavior and beliefs. You will need to look at your spouse and who they really are, not as you would like them to be. You will need to decide what you want you want and are able to accept. All these are challenging tasks.


Therapy helps to structure and guide people through this complex and emotional time. It is a slow process lasting years. Couples or individuals don’t need to be in therapy for years but to move beyond infidelity properly it will take a long a time.


To see how therapy might help you please contact All in the Family Counselling Centre at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or whatsapp or call +6590307239

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