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Do you still have to trust your spouse after infidelity?

Study guide

“After we both committed adultery 26 years ago, we decided not to let strangers into our relationship anymore. “My wife has been friends with a woman since high school for more than two years.” These are the professions of a woman who went to her psychologist. She asked if she could still trust her partner after discovering her husband’s secret affair with an old acquaintance. Together, we read the story and the therapist’s answer to answer the question, “Can you still trust your spouse after his or her infidelity?” Stay with us.


Dear psychologist!

Twenty-six years ago, my husband and I had a difficult time together – which is now 50 years old. We both made mistakes that made us doubt our relationship, but we knew we loved each other. So we turned to counseling to learn how to be honest in our lives together and trust each other. We promised each other that we would not allow any strangers to enter our common space.

I kept that promise. But I recently found out that my husband has been on the phone with a single woman for more than two and a half years. They have known each other since high school. According to my wife, they did not have sex, but my husband went to her house and had lunch for her. My husband knows I do not like this woman because she has expressed interest in my husband. My wife says she did not talk about the relationship because she thought I would get angry.

Nevertheless, he lied to me about the length of time he had been in contact with the woman. At first he said it had been six months since the incident, but when I said I would check his phone, he admitted that he had been in a relationship with her for more than two years. I asked him if they had gone out for lunch or something else. “Never,” he replied. Then I asked him if he had ever been to the woman’s house. He replied that he had only had lunch for her once.

I can not analyze the issue in this situation. He says he loves me, but I feel a big void inside me. Given our past, trust is a very important issue for me.

Linda – California

Psychological answer

Dear Linda!

After so many years of trying to build trust and security in your life together, I can imagine how painful it can be to re-experience the betrayal of your spouse. To see what happened, it is best to separate the current situation from the previous betrayal, in which both of you were involved. We need to see what is happening right now between your husband and his former classmate. Before that, we need to look at the issue of trust and what it means.

Psychological analysis

After the betrayals that took place 26 years ago, you both seem to have come to the conclusion that trust means “no stranger has the right to enter into a relationship.” It is as if you want to draw a safe boundary around your relationship by preventing strangers from entering. But maintaining a healthy relationship is not about what happens or does not happen to strangers. The reason for the permanence of these relationships is what happens or does not happen between two people involved in the relationship.

Of course, providing the conditions for both parties to stay in the relationship is much more difficult than keeping the rest of us in the relationship, because keeping our partner in the relationship is associated with more injuries. Making rules about others is much easier than meeting the person who is right next to you. Regarding your question, I think what happened between you is less relevant to that woman; It has more to do with something unsaid between the two of you.

Reasons for betrayal

Throughout my career as a psychologist, I have seen people rarely discuss exactly what they are worried about with their spouse. Instead, they express their loneliness, fear, or resentment in other ways. For this reason, sometimes the reasons for infidelity must be sought in cohabitation. Such feelings can create conditions for infidelity in the relationship: feelings of alienation, feelings of excessive involvement or control, avoidance of each other or inability to communicate, escape from constant conflict.

In other cases, betrayal goes back to something internal, such as an ingrained problem with intimacy (fear of intimacy) and vulnerability, dysfunctional patterns that have not been corrected since childhood, feelings of insecurity, and doubts about personal worth or a reaction to a great loss. Sometimes people soothe their feelings of depression or unresolved anxiety by distracting them with a betrayal. There are others who are addicted to betrayal and use it in such a way that others may use alcohol, drugs, food or obsessive and involuntary purchases.

Betrayal; Fantasy or reality?

When people feel betrayed, they become so irritated and anxious that they lose sight of the person they think betrayed them. At the same time, they become so engrossed in anger and partisanship that they lose focus on themselves and instead focus on the details of infidelity, such as: Was there a physical relationship between them? How much is a physical relationship? How many times have they talked on the phone? Have they eaten together? What food did they eat? If you get caught up in the details of betrayal that can be painful and confusing, you will miss the opportunity to answer more important questions, such as “What has happened to each of us?”

The above question returns the discussion to the issue of trust. Being trustworthy means being honest, but it also goes back to your ability to accept your spouse’s honesty. If your spouse does not trust you to share the truth with you, he or she may create a situation that will erode your trust. That is, he may engage in secrecy.

what’s the solution?

When you made phone calls to your husband during the discussion, he shared important information with you: He did not tell you anything about the relationship, because you are afraid that you will react badly. At the moment, you do not trust your spouse, but he or she may not trust you either. He may not be able to trust your capacity to bear the truth; So he can not share it freely with you.

What truth is your husband hiding from you? It may be in the confines of the boundaries you have in defining “strangers.” The privacy you both defined for your relationship 26 years ago had serious, unrealistic limitations about being the opposite sex. The same privacy now makes him feel suffocated. Cohabitation is compatible with boundaries that are neither too free nor too closed; Not a vast ocean, not a small strait, but a spacious but enclosed aquarium. Despite the woman’s interest in your spouse, their relationship may be as simple as friendship. Next, this friendship is what your spouse felt he or she should hide from you because he or she knew you were opposed to it.

Acceptance to know the truth

If you allowed her to express her honesty (whether that honesty meant friendship between them or something beyond that), you would understand what your spouse’s relationship with this woman meant to him or her. Perhaps as he gets older and faces the possibility of death, a connection to the past has become important to him. For example, he likes to talk to someone he knew when he was young or someone who saw his parents when they were young. Perhaps he is struggling to maintain the value or power he is losing, such as the fear of losing his identity or his charm or ability. Sometimes people get this condition when they get older. For this reason, admiring this woman boosts your spouse’s self-confidence or helps him or her cope with losing his or her youth.

Can I still trust my wife?

Perhaps he achieves something he does not find in other areas of his life: feeling seen, understood, respected, and enjoyed. Maybe there is a completely different reason than what we said. In any case, you will never know the reason for the betrayal until you become engrossed in the details of the betrayal, instead of being receptive to knowing the truth (the same truth he has experienced and thought he should hide from you).

The last word

We have to accept that it is because of ourselves that we are loved and respected. No better feeling can bring us closer to another. What you have learned from my answer will most likely help you get closer; Provided that you provide the necessary grounds for trust. Cohabitation (or at least the kind of cohabitation that is most satisfying) is a dynamic and evolving institution that changes over time. In this type of life, it is welcomed instead of resisting change. That is why love (or at least the kind of love that drives us to grow) is surprisingly enduring. You seem to have such enduring love. It is enough to enrich your relationship by providing a space for understanding each other’s truths.




Do you still have to trust your spouse after infidelity?

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