Be Extraordinarily Kind to Yourself... because no one else will.
Perhaps this last phrase is a little strong.
But the reality in our Western culture often subtly conveys that the wounded spouse
has somehow failed.
The cheating spouse has "fallen in love" (and "being in love" is the basis for a strong
relationship... right?) with someone else and obviously the marriage was not meeting
Some directly make this statement. Often (and I'm a licensed Marriage and Family
Therapist with 28 years of experience) infidelity "counseling" by reputable therapists
often try to ascertain, "what went wrong in the marriage." And, that means YOU..
what's wrong with you that s/he bolted?
Kinda crazy, once you understand the dynamics of infidelity, I know.
Family and friends are tongue tied and don't know what to say or they offer the
simplistic advise: "Kick him/her out! I would!"
But, they don't understand that you know, at one level, the emptiness and personal
neediness of your cheating spouse, for which s/he thought the affair to be the solution.
Or, you are labeled the victim. Poor you! You have it so bad. Again, not a very
flattering description. You certainly are NOT helpless. You have not lost your personal
power, although it may feel like it.
And, finally, from an outsiders point of view (and sometimes your point of view) your
cheating spouse has all the power. S/he is calling the shots. You have lost or are about
to lose EVERYTHING and there is nothing you can do about it.
The result of this negative onslaught: You form powerfully negative and seemingly
destructive thoughts and images, about your self and them, that consume every
What do you do then to counteract or cope with this bombardment of negativity?
Allow me to offer a few suggestions:
1. Think of your internal self as parts.
The confusion, rage, pain and hopeless occur when internally you experience no
distinctions, no separation, no awareness that you DO have different parts. You
experience an internal raging and churning mess.
2. Be aware of your internal dialogue (how you "talk to yourself" in your mind.)
Are you upset with "yourself" for being in this position? Well, that means that one
part of you who doesn't want the pain is upset with another part which feels the pain.
See where I'm going? Even now, as you consider this possibility, do you internally
feel a measure of relief?
Once you begin to identify the parts, you take back your personal power, feel better
and can engage more productively in effective action.
3. Intentionally be aware of, and utilize, 3 parts of you.
There is the part that feels awful, perhaps worthless, devalued, raging, etc.
Another part of you wants to attack that part, wants it to go away. It might be
exceedingly critical of your pain, which is perceived as "weakness." So when you rail
in pain or anger, you rail at that part of you that is in pain or feels helpless.
There is another part of you that can stand back and be objective. This is the part of
you that is now reading this article. This part of you can think. This is the part of you
that will study and learn about infidelity. It will see patterns. It will identify the
motives of your cheating spouse. It is that part that will strategize and employ tactics
to stop the affair and perhaps save the marriage.
This is the part of you that becomes the kind parent and comforter to the part that
feels in pain and helpless. This is the part of you that will teach the anger critical part
that it's criticism and anger is an attempt to protect and care for you as well.
The more awareness you have of these different parts, the more you are freed to cope
and move ahead.
Your work, your power, your hope lies within. And, this is very doable.
Yes, you will slide into the internal criticism and the pain, but a part of you with
compassion will call you out of that pain and into something more constructive, time
and time again.