The Unfaithful Partner’s Response
The unfaithful partner experiences relief. It has been exhausting living a life of lies and duplicity. Everything is now out in the open.
The offender experiences impatience and just wants to move on. That is assuming it is like a gate or door that can be walked through and closed behind the couple. They need to know it is more like an open door that one moves through as a process.
There is also a chronic anxiety and also grief over the loss of the lover. Those working with unfaithful couples need to remind the unfaithful spouse to not expect the hurt partner to understand this grief.
There is sometimes justified and sanctimonious anger along with an absence of guilt. These two emotions go hand in hand. The unfaithful partner can appear shallow and self serving. Often the offender didn’t feel loved, appreciated, or cared for before during and after the affair. They are not sorry for the affair but rather for the hurt it caused.
Often there is a combination of isolation and hopelessness. Because of the isolation, they wonder who they can talk to. They can feel shunned but counseling can help stabilize that feeling. Their greatest fear is that they won’t be forgiven. They can feel like they don’t deserve to be loved and don’t deserve a second chance.
Finally, they can experience paralysis and self-disgust. There can be crippling shame. When the guilt progresses from guilt to shame, the unfaithful partner is less likely to work to be forgiven. If the partner experiences guilt, he or she is more likely to work to be forgiven. The unfaithful partner also usually experiences guilt over the children.
In order to help the healing and start rebuilding the unfaithful partner need to have a funeral to say good bye to the lover. There needs to be finality with no response, etc with the lover. The offender needs to write an apology. In the letter, the unfaithful needs to address the respective hurts of their spouse.
In helping couples, the hurt partner needs to look at responsibility. We can also help then normalize these and all responses.
Marriage counseling with a counselor who believes in saving marriages is essential. Helen Wheeler, is just that.