When a spouse betrays you it damages the foundation of the marriage.
A spouse cheating is often the biggest form of betrayal in a marriage, but there are other ways spouses betray one another. Sneakily taking part in questionable activities, secretly siphoning funds from a joint savings account, or speaking unfavorably of a beloved are all forms of dishonoring one another. What underlies all of these – and what is often the most painful of all – is dishonesty; not sharing true feelings and actions with the person you vowed to be faithful to.
So how do you deal with a spouse who betrayed you – who broke your marriage agreement, went behind your back, and was dishonest in some way? It depends on whether your husband or wife learned an important life lesson, discovered the consequences of their inappropriate behavior, and is committed to creating and maintaining an honest relationship. If so, the path ahead requires trust and patience. If not, the road is much bumpier. Let’s examine both situations.
Dealing with a Spouse Who Learned their Lessons
Everyone makes mistakes; it’s part of being human. One of the best ways to learn, heal and grow is through mistakes. And when two people in a committed relationship work through painful issues together, they grow individually and as a couple. But it requires a huge amount of trust and honesty to move past betrayal.
If your wife or husband regrets their hurtful behavior, understands how it has affected you and the marriage, and is willing to do what it takes to get the relationship back on solid ground, it’s now a matter of redeveloping trust between you both. Forgiveness is a key component, but here are additional suggestions.
~ Calm your mind. Your mind will naturally focus on the past and worry about the future because that’s what minds do best. The intellect works well with data and logic, but when it comes to matters of the heart, the mind becomes confused. Don’t let fearful thoughts distract you. Practice deep breathing, meditating or other mindfulness techniques to calm your mind and stay in the present moment.
~ Stay in current reality. Don’t let past behaviors taint your current reality. Put the past behind you and see your spouse with fresh eyes. Give him a chance to be faithful and honest in the relationship. Reminding your spouse of their past inappropriate behavior will only cause defensiveness and shame. Love and acceptance leads to change.
~ Listen to your intuition. Your intuition knows the truth in any given moment. Don’t let your fearful thoughts carry you away into a place of distrust. Instead, listen to your intuition – your gut feeling, instinct and inner knowing. This will guide you back to your truth.
~ Follow your heart. If you’re unsure what to do or say to your spouse in any given moment (for example, if you sense your spouse isn’t being completely honest), put your hand on your heart and follow it’s lead. Ask your heart what to do. You may hear or sense some guidance such as “be patient for now,” or “share your concerns with love,” or “offer a hug.”
The suggestions above will help you to develop trust in yourself so you’ll know if you can trust your spouse.
How to Handle a Dishonest Spouse
If your spouse has not learned their lessons and continues to betray you through dishonesty and/or unfaithfulness, it’s up to you to choose your path. You can’t force another human being to honor their agreement or be forthcoming with you. All you can do is honor yourself and decide if you want to continue with the marriage the way it is.
If you are not in a position to leave the marriage you have a few choices.
~ Express your feelings. Do your best to discuss the matter with your spouse, sharing your feelings and experiences without blame and judgment. If you throw anger and blame towards your spouse, he or she will most likely become defensive and either shut down or explode back at you. But if you share how you are affected by their behavior, this puts the focus on you. Working with a marriage counselor may provide the support to do this.
~ Understand the deeper motive. People lie and behave inappropriately for various reasons. If your husband was raised in an alcoholic or dysfunctional family, he may believe that being honest leads to punishment. He may have learned to get his way by being dishonest. If your wife overspends without informing you, she may feel controlled in the marriage. If your husband cheats, he may be subconsciously afraid to develop deeper intimacy with you so sabotages the relationship. If your wife lies for no reason, she may feel smothered and have a need for privacy and secrets. Try to understand the underlying reason for the dishonesty as a way to develop compassion for your spouse.
~ Create healthy boundaries. Discuss with your partner what level of honesty you both want in your marriage. Then determine what constitutes a breach and how you both agree to handle it. If you both are in agreement, it is much easier to deal with situations as they arise.
~ Focus on yourself. If none of the above suggestions are helpful, and you don’t want to or are not yet able to leave the marriage, focus on your own life. Fill yourself with so much self-love that it doesn’t matter if your spouse acts lovingly or not towards you. Take care of your own needs in the relationship and accept your spouse as he or she is flaws and all. Be amused by their dishonesty instead of taking it personally – remember that the truth is there regardless if people admit to it or not.
I hope these suggestions help you in your marriage or at least help you to find peace of mind within the relationship.
Do you have any questions or additional suggestions for dealing with a spouse who betrayed you?