Should I talk to a therapist about my loved one’s affair or other betrayal?

I have seen it too many times. Wives discover their husband’s sexual misbehaviors and don’t know what to do. Research shows that it is common for wives to have symptoms of trauma after an affair or other betrayal is disclosed. Dr. Jill Manning defines betrayal trauma “as when someone we depend on and are attached to violates our trust in a critical way.”

Typical thoughts include:

  • Why would I talk to anyone? It won’t fix my husband.
  • This is my husband’s issue he needs to fix it, I don’t need to be fixed!
  • If I go get help I won’t be able to make sure my husband is doing what he should be doing.

Here are three reasons why you should talk to a therapist:

  • You may be suffering from Post-Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you knew a soldier dealing with flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, or uncontrollable thoughts you would likely encourage them to get help. Research tells us that 69% of those with Betrayal trauma meet the criteria for PTSD and 48% have a moderate or severe case. Soldiers are trained and are expected to experience traumatic situations. They can be removed from their unhealthy environments and come home. Those with betrayal trauma are not removed from the situation and often stay in the relationship. Because of this, the trauma can become complicated. For these reasons, it is wise to seek out a therapist who has experience working with those who are experiencing betrayal trauma.
  • Therapy has been proven helpful. A survey conducted by Dr. Jill Manning of betrayed partners found individual, couple and group therapy to be among the most helpful to their recovery. Here is a list of the activities she found to be most helpful:
    • Reading
    • Connecting with Trusted Family and Friends
    • Medical Care
    • Individual Therapy that is partner and trauma sensitive. (My next article will be on the difference between partner sensitive and addict centered therapy).
    • In-Patient Therapy/Residential help
    • Group Therapy
    • Couple therapy
    • 2 Step Support Group (Volunteer led groups like these have been shown to decrease some unwanted effects of betrayal)
    • Meeting with Religious Leaders
    • Self-care
    • Spiritual Practices
  • Therapy assisted disclosure has been shown to decrease worries and fears. A common and powerful therapeutic tool is assisting the addict to disclose as much information that is needed to help the spouse heal. One study showed that after disclosure spouses had fewer fears regarding the betrayal.

If you are suffering, find someone trusted to talk to. There are many benefits of receiving help with the betrayal you have experienced.

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