Betrayal and Its Aftermath
What To Do When Betrayal Enters Your Life
During this phase, the betrayed partner should treat him- or herself with the same degree of care and understanding he or she would extend to a person who is seriously ill. Major life changes or decisions should not be made at this time. The use of alcohol and nonprescription drugs should be avoided. The betrayed also should avoid experiences (for example, popular books and films) that may trigger unresolved issues surrounding the affair.
About 30 percent of those who experience a marital crisis of this type become clinically depressed. Symptoms of depression include the loss of interest and pleasure in life along with several of the following symptoms: irritability, sadness, bouts of crying, as well as changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and activity levels. Problems with concentration are frequently reported, along with feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Decision-making can become impaired. Suicidal ideas or thoughts can arise and are reasons to seek professional help at once. The severity of the depression and its duration must also be considered. If the depression does not begin to lift in two to four weeks, professional consultation is in order.
How Can a Professional Help?
Most affairs happen when there have been problems in the marriage for some time. Most couples will make some attempts to improve the situation on their own, since it is very difficult to maintain a hostile atmosphere for long, either beginning the reconciliatory process or initiating plans to live separately. In many cases, however, outside intervention is necessary.
When seeking professional help, there are a few things to keep in mind. Seek out a state-licensed mental health professional. When calling to inquire about an appointment, ask how many years the person has been in practice. In general, affairs are complicated matters and require the expertise of a professional who has had the benefit of extensive experience.
When volatile emotions or severe depression emerge and persist, individual therapy is necessary to reestablish emotional stability and must precede any attempts at couples therapy.
Through individual therapy, Mary was able to achieve the personal stability to pursue couples therapy with Jim. The couple sought therapy with someone other than Mary’s individual therapist, so that the couples therapist could be more objective and maintain a more neutral stance.