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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.

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Jim and Mary waited until they were on the brink of divorce and their children were affected before seeking professional help. It would have been wiser to seek help earlier. If you or a person you love is being affected by an affair, remember — professional help is available.

The following references may also prove helpful for those who would like to read more on this topic:

After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful (1997), by Janis Abrahms Spring, with Michael Spring (New York: HarperCollins).

Affairs: A Guide to Working Through the Repercussions of Infidelity (1999), by Emily M. Brown (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).

Affair-Proof Your Marriage: Understanding, Preventing and Surviving an Affair (1998), by Lana Staheli (New York: HarperCollins).

Betrayal and Its Aftermath

Carol Pulice

APA Reference
Pulice, C. (2020). Betrayal and Its Aftermath. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Jan 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.