Betrayal is a bit of a whirlwind when you think about it. One moment, you think things are going well between you and your spouse. Next, you are devastated by the news that they cheated on you. Anger, grief, and pain assail you from all sides. Then you are hit with something else: shame. You want to shrink away from what happened. You may think you failed. Now you find yourself wondering, “How do I overcome the embarrassment of my cheating spouse?”
There are ways to process and let go of the shame. This article will help you get started down the right path.
Acknowledge What You Feel
For most people, getting in touch with your dark feelings is not easy. You would probably rather go to the dentist’s office than sit with your shame for a while. But if you want to get over the shame of a cheating spouse, you need to understand that shame. Blocking out your emotions, shutting down, and ignoring the hurt will only make it worse.
By giving a name to the shame, you have already seized control of the game.
You Are Not Alone
Infidelity is more common than people would like to believe. You see and hear about it everywhere. Even the media acknowledges that affairs happen. People will betray the ones they care about for a variety of reasons, including a need for attention, loneliness, depression, fearing legitimate commitment, emotional neglect, and many other things. Too often, infidelity is seen as the green grass on the other side of the fence.
Except it’s really a battleground full of landmines.
In other words, you are not alone in this. What you are feeling now has been felt by others. If you feel that you did something to make the infidelity happen, know that your partner’s choice is not your fault.
It is not your singular failure.
And since infidelity is, sadly, common, there are people—like therapists, counselors, and your trusted friends—who are willing to listen.
Talk To A Therapist—Together
It is of the utmost importance that the two of you sit down in front of a couples counselor and talk about what has happened. Therapy is a useful tool for working through your feelings. In the therapist’s office, you will find an unbiased individual who can frame questions and guide the conversation in a healthy way. This gives the two of you space to discuss the shame you feel, as well as your hurt.
Furthermore, therapy will teach you not to blame yourself—which is where the shame is coming from. You will learn tools to deal with the harsh internal criticisms that keep spiraling around inside your head.
By working through the pain and shame, you may even begin to forgive your partner for their actions.
Remember That Shame Has Purpose
Shame, by nature, is an implement that teaches you how to reframe your thoughts. Consider shame as motivation instead of punishment. Shame does not mean failure; society has taught us to view it that way, but shame has nothing to do with failing. Instead, shame is a signal. It says, “Stop this and try something new.”
Therapy will help you with this reframing, but for right now consider this: Shame can help you correct what went wrong.
Focus on healing. If you remain caught up in the fact that your spouse cheated on you, the shame will continue cutting you. Each cut ends with some kind of trauma response, like a real wound that keeps getting reopened. Instead of preoccupying yourself with the pain, focus on bandaging the wound and keeping it closed for good.
Do not think, “Why did they do this to me?”. Instead ask, “What can I do for myself to make this better?”
Work Towards Forgiveness
Right now, you may think that your partner’s actions are unforgivable. However, if you are committed to rebuilding your marriage and overcoming the shame, you need to be able to forgive.
Forgiveness is not a weakness. It does not mean you have forgotten what was done. It simply means that you are choosing to say, “I’m not going to let the past decide what the future holds.”
Recover From The Shame Of Infidelity With Couples Academy
Coping with the shame of a cheating spouse is never easy. Shame is a feeling that can cancel out every other emotion. It takes control. That is why it is important to process the shame, seek its source of it, and work through it in a healthy manner. Therapy with Couples Academy can help you and your spouse handle your emotions, process the affair, and even begin to forgive one another for what has happened. Don’t let mistakes define your relationship—love is so much more enduring than that.
Give Couples Academy a call today. Let’s start rebuilding your marriage together.