surviving infidelity - gettiing past the angerIf your spouse cheated on you, it’s a natural urge for most people to explode (usually verbally, but in many cases physically), especially in the very early stages immediately after you find out about the affair. 

This anger can be useful to the injured person, but there comes a time when expressing your angry feelings gets to a point of diminishing returns. It starts creating more problems for surviving infidelity than it solves.

The problem of unrelenting anger is one of the single biggest obstacles on your path to acceptance and ultimately forgiveness.

Learning how to cope with, manage, and express your feelings so they effectively help you change your marriage instead of tearing you apart inside is a major goal for many who are surviving infidelity and as you search for ways to forgive your spouse.

In fact, some of you may not even know the full extent of why you are really angry. There are some underlying factors that maintain the cycle of anger that you may not be aware of. This lack of awareness can perpetuate the problem.

In this first of two articles, we will discuss the three reasons you may be holding on to your anger, and then in part two we will offer some tips for expressing your feelings in a more meaningful way so you can begin to let them go and work more towards surviving infidelity.

3 Reasons You are Still Angry After the Affair

Dr. Frank Gunzburg, in his book “How to Survive an Affair,” says there are a lot of reasons you might be holding on to your emotional pain and anger. One of the main reasons is that holding onto the pain and anger feels like a kind of protection.

The thinking goes: “If I continue to feel the pain, it will keep me from being foolish in the future by being duped or having this happen again.”

Another variation on this might be:

“If I maintain my anger, my partner will really know how much he hurt me and how important this issue is to me. Consequently, my spouse will be motivated to take care of my hurt feelings and not repeat the transgression.”

You may be experiencing thoughts and feelings like this right now.

However, what you might not be aware of is that there are at least three issues hidden inside statements like these that reveal the real reason you are still angry.

They are:

1. You want to show your cheating spouse how hurtful his or her actions were so you can get the special treatment you desire from him or her to make you feel that you can move on from the transgression.

2. You want your cheating spouse to know how hurtful the behavior was and continues to be, so he or she will diligently search his or her behavior for an understanding of how this happened, accept full responsibility for it and for the subsequent pain it caused, and be authentically remorseful about it.

3. You want to have some assurance that this will never happen again. This is a biggie! You may feel as though you have been made to look foolish, and you never want to feel this way again. Through the logic of points one and two, you feel that extending the pain and anger will effect a change in your spouse.

These issues are understandable, and they reflect important aspects of the healing process.  However, anger, particularly continuing anger will almost never get you what you want.

If you’re angry, it’s more likely your spouse will feel attacked and either withdraw, defend him- or herself, or attack back.

In any case, he or she will likely stop trying to provide you with the words and actions you need to feel better about your marriage or will do so reluctantly, feeling coerced and perhaps resentful.

It’s true that your spouse behaved in a selfish manner that completely failed to take you and your feelings into consideration. That’s a character flaw your spouse has to overcome.

If you decide you are going to stay and work to save your marriage, then at some point you have to manage your angry thoughts before they become angry feelings: You begin to treat your spouse as your friend and not as your enemy.

The anger is not protecting you. In fact, your anger is probably hurting you more than anyone else.  For one thing there is the additional psychological stress and pain you feel every day you continue to carry this anger.

However, anger has more than a psychological impact. It changes you physically as well. It’s hard on your heart. It alters the way your blood vessels deposit fat. It can affect the way your body processes sugar and insulin. It can even change the biochemistry of your brain.

Anger doesn’t serve you. It’s not a shield. It’s a weapon – a weapon you use against an enemy, but in today’s world, you are destroying yourself with it. You need to let it go. It’s killing you.

However, that doesn’t mean you should suddenly pretend everything is rosy in your marriage again. That isn’t realistic either.

You need to express your hurt, or, rather, the ideas that are driving your anger. You need to communicate your pain to your spouse if you are going to move past this terrible trap and continue down the road to acceptance and eventually forgiveness.

Communication is the core of your marriage. It’s your method to heal. If you can’t communicate, surviving infidelity is impossible and your marriage may never heal. When it comes to anger and the hurt that underlies it, learning how to communicate those thoughts becomes more important than ever – especially if your spouse has betrayed you.

In part two of this article we will give you some tips on how to express your anger in a more effective fashion.

For more information on Dr. Gunzburg’s program as well as free information on surviving infidelity, please visit his website.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this and how you are getting along in your marriage after the affair.  Please leave a comment in the section below.

 

    8 replies to "Surviving Infidelity: Getting Past the Anger"

    • ppl

      it is amazing that as i read most accounts here almost everyone, including Linda seem to have no doubt that the guilty spouse was previously faithful. it is amazing to me that everyone who went astray clicked immediately with the person they got involved with. they werent “fishing” for someone previously or involved with someone previously. would you believe a convicted bank robber that he or she never stole anything before, just one day decided to do it and was completely law abiding before? its like every fisherman catching a large fish everytime they cast? how many times must the guilty spuse have cast their line? think about your dating days. every flirt ended up with long term involvement? of course not. Now i am not saying that everyone is lying, only that no cheating spouse is telling the truth. they only admit to what they got caught at. how many did they flirt with or ask out before they connected with someone? We will all live the rest of our lives looking out to see if they are being “good”. is it really worth it? why are we all settling? and what are we setling for?

    • stupidandtrusting

      Logically, of course, I can process the information in this and countless other writings. Emotionally, it is very difficult. Linda, could you share a few behaviors you incorporated to stop you from spilling over with anger and pain? How on earth did you learn to hold it in?

      • Linda

        Stupidandtrusting, I honestly don’t know how I held it all in, when I look back I really don’t know how I made it through the day. I guess I was in automatic pilot, just surviving, not trying to feel or think too much. I didn’t get very angry, which is something I really regret. I held it all in, afraid I would push him away if I spoke my mind. I decided to do that almost a year later which was not to productive for our healing. I am not a very angry or outspoken person which means I acted on more emotion and pain. It was very difficult and have learned a lot from this experience. I learned to speak my mind and not put up with crap. I became a doormat and I have learned that I need to take responsibility for my life and focus on my own happiness. I walked and cried a lot, I went out with friends, I tried to remove myself from the situation as much as I could. I stopped taking the full responsibility of saving our marriage and focused on me. It is a very difficult but I promise each day will get better. Linda

    • Jeffrey Murrah

      Doug,

      I am glad that you addressed anger. Anger is a major obstacle to overcome. Couples that have not dealt well with anger in the past are often overwhelmed with the anger generated with affairs. I often tell people that affairs are a “matter of life and death”, which ….they are. The risk of being hurt or killed is higher with an affair going on that at other times. Not only is their anger, people are not thinking straight and everyone is having to deal with losses in their lives.

    • melissa

      A very useful insight into anger, and one that made me look at myself differently. I am still holding on to my anger for the reasons you outlined, now I understand why. I’m still not re-assured that my husband is true to me and feel he is not expressing his regrets and fears enough for me to hear it, brushing the whole thing under the carpet instead.

    • mil

      I totally agree with the original post. I am frightened that if my h thinks I’m no longer angry or hurt he will think everything’s hunky dory. Is this not the case? Perhaps those of you who have cheated could give your opinions as to what you thought if/when your spouse focussed less and less on it. Or was it simply pure relief?? LOL

    • Sal

      kickboxing, therapy and good friends! If you even the score it will break his heart. I learnt that.

    • Elise

      If he’s really sorry, if he really loved you then he would see the anger and hurt and it would motivate him to make reparations. If it doesn’t then that’s his loss.

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