It’s Trauma. It’s not your fault.
If you’ve suffered sexual betrayal in your closest relationship, you’ve lived the experience of deep trauma from that wound, and the effects and responses reverberate through most aspects of your life. You know that, I know that.
Now the counseling community is beginning to understand that in a new way. In the early days of dabbling with sexual addiction as a diagnosis, waaaay back in the early 90’s, the spouse was summarily given the companion disorder of co-dependency. It was an unfortunate label, woefully misused, as there was not an actual diagnosis made of the partner. With automation, it assigned fault in some measure to the betrayed. To their credit, the professional therapy community has been weighing the evidence and taking surveys.
These professional diagnoses stir a question in me: Why is it such a new area of study, and a revelation of what a betrayed person feels and experiences? Whether a husband is guilty of one or many betrayals of intimacy and his vows, in my experience, a woman suffers under most of these same feelings to some degree. There’s nothing new under the sun, infidelity is as old as the fallen human condition, much older than the APA.
The APA is now applying the PTSD model for betrayed spouses. This is a better picture of the effects of partner betrayal, but it is incomplete. PTSD defines some effects on a person that the betrayal caused, such as reliving details, anger, and hyper-vigilance, both of the partner and assessing the territory in every setting for new potential threats. But it doesn’t encompass all the effects of partner betrayal.
The spouse’s responses and emotions also mirror the sudden death of a loved one, or to put it in therapist lingo, ‘the grief model’; another package of emotions and reactions including shock, anger, numbness, denial, and blame.
Your Feelings Are Real – And Valid
But there’s more. Most of the injured understandably experience jealousy; jealousy of being replaced in the most intimate aspect of the relationship. Jealousy of another individual or a collective group, as in the case of porn. We’re told that jealousy is a bad thing; but this kind of jealous is a natural reaction to the threat to the marriage and the comparisons to another.
Then there’s the instinctive reaction to recoil from intimate touch from your partner, and even nausea if you attempt to press on. My opinion is that this is a deep survival instinct that attempts to protect you from that which you can’t trust. Often women say it’s not their desire to feel this way when they are in the midst of restoring their marriage; it’s a gut level uncontrolled reaction.
And one more; there’s the chaos, a great disorder or confusion over your circumstances and the internal chaos of your emotions. Upon discovery, many women voice the feeling that what they believed about their marriage was a lie; giving them a sense that the very underpinnings of their relationships were built on illusions. Most women experience a loss of confidence, sense of self, and strength of purpose, disabling her personal moorings.
And then there’s unique you. You may add other specific reactions unique to you and your given circumstances to this long list.
I think it’s apparent then that it’s just not a neat bundle to fit into an existing, already labeled box.
Positive Action is Possible
I write this because, though the tide is turning, some of you may have, or will still run into these erroneous concepts in print, counseling, or other recovery programs. I hope that this informs you in those moments to walk away from that resource!
In my Healing Choice Series series, written in 2000, it is even more relevant today than when written. I rejected these notions of automatic inclusion in the co-dependent club, which you’ll find reflected in the course. Instead you’ll learn more about our normal, understandable emotions and responses to betrayal, and how to heal or work to overcome them and deal with this infection in our marriage, without blaming you for his behavior. You will find the hopeful true help you need to heal right here.
The basis for formulating this recovery program is grounded in scriptural truth, research, my personal experiences and firsthand experience with many women on the same journey. For you who need help, but question how God’s word can address these issues, I challenge you to get reading through my Healing Choice series. I guarantee you won’t regret the time or money spent. I also hope that you will find a small group of women to go through this unintended journey with. You’ll find both at our website. Take care for yourself. You’re worth it!