Misery Loves Company: When Marital Betrayal Causes You to Betray Yourself

Misery Loves Company: When Marital Betrayal Causes You to Betray Yourself

Dear Gorgeous,

I caught my husband of fifteen years (two children) involved in an emotional affair with a married mutual acquaintance. A year later, he still denies the affair in fear I will confront the other woman's husband. In other words, he'd rather save her marriage than salvage any type of relationship with me! 

I've cut off pretty much all contact with him and he seems okay with that. I'm tempted everyday to confront her husband. I know I don't want to reconcile with my husband, however, I think she should have consequences to her bad behavior.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Betrayed in LA

Dear Betrayed in LA,

I am not going to beat around the bush with my response so, it may come off as brash but please know I am sending you this message with love. Thank you for trusting me with such a sensitive topic and for allowing our readers to gain knowledge and help through your adversity. You are greatly appreciated.

When Trust is Broken:

Without having all the information, I suspect you discovered proof of your husband's emotionally entangled relationship with your acquaintance and that there is nothing he can say to convince you it never happened. Therefore, you know your marriage is over. What you have probably figured out by now is that once trust is broken, it can never be repaired; the heart will always remember where it has been torn and chances are, this isn't the only incident but rather, the straw that broke the camel's back. 

We all have certain deal breakers––things for which we cannot stand. I'm not talking about silly arguments about leaving the toilet seat up or forgetting to pay the mortgage on time. I'm talking about those key rules in a relationship that all boil down to one major rule: do not break my trust. Stealing, lying, cheating, misleading and omitting are the usual suspects when it comes to broken trust, and once any of these things have occurred in a marriage or relationship of any kind, it is impossible to repair the fracture that occurs.

Sure, we can sit in a therapist's office, discussing our trust issues at the rate of two hundred and fifty dollars an hour but, when it's all said and done, you will never forget what it feels like to be betrayed. And even though you may move past the issue and manage to hold it all together, every time your spouse goes missing for an hour or two, declares he or she is working late, doesn't answer the phone, or goes on another business trip, your mind will always wonder, what if

Relationships Don't End:

On one hand, you seem embittered by the fact your husband doesn't want to salvage some sort of relationship with you, but on the other hand, you claim you don't want to reconcile with him. What I gather from this is that you want him to allow you to bust up this woman's marriage because you want to feel like he's on your side, that he is with you and not against you. But he can't be on your side because what you want to do is wrong. So, you feel that if he can't agreed with you, you must disagree with him. What I am hearing is that you want to get along with your husband, even if just for the sake of the children, but you don't want to fix the marriage because, honestly, it probably will never really be fixed––patched, but not fixed.

And even though all of this sounds well and good, like some sort of "mutual uncoupling," the truest fact of the matter is that you want your husband back. You wish you could reverse time and go back to the happiest, most cohesive moments of your lives together. You want that cohesiveness now, even in the middle of this mess, you want to feel like your husband can back you up in your pain and need to inflict that pain on the woman who you think ruined your marriage. If he allows you to hurt her, then he doesn't care about her more than he cares about you; that's what you're thinking. But you are so wrong. 

You are hurt and bitter because you bought into the dream and it betrayed you. You thought marriage was forever and now you know, it isn't always. In fact, most times, it is not. Your husband may have betrayed you but on top of all of that, every plan you had for your life has just slipped through your fingers. The dream you've had since you were a little girl is a lie. This is how it feels.

But here's the really good news...

You have been married to this man for fifteen years and you share two children. Your marriage may be over but your relationship will never end. However, it will change; it has already changed and change is good! When someone has been a part of us, no matter who it is, we can't undo the fact there was a relationship. As much as we may want to, we cannot go back in time and reverse the impact they have had in our lives. The ties that bind us will always exist though the relationship will change. So, you see, there is no reason to panic or feel as if you're losing something, and there is certainly no need to push him away or make him prove his allegiance by allowing you to hurt another. It's all so very futile. You can never lose him because he never belonged to you. All of us being to God alone and God has more in store for both of you. This stage of your relationship will lead into another, better stage––so let it!

Misery Loves Company:

Now that your marriage is in shambles, you want her marriage to be in shambles, too. That's what's happening here. What you want to do is make everyone else as miserable as you are. You want to break up a marriage and a family, just as yours has been broken and this is what will make you just as bad as your husband and his paramour.

The fact is that you don't know what her husband knows. You're assuming that just because they are still together, he doesn't know about what has happened between his wife and your husband. You are assuming their supposed happiness is based on not knowing what or who the other is or what they have done. But, did you ever stop to think that maybe he already knows but doesn't care? Did you ever stop to think that maybe he knows who his wife is and accepts her wholly, flaws and all? Maybe they have decided to deal with their issues by seeking professional or spiritual counsel instead of breaking up over something that they may not consider a deal breaker. What if he knows and is too busy having affairs of his own to be bothered with hers? What if they have an open marriage or a less traditional one? 

What if their marriage is none of your business?

What your husband understands that you don't is that your marriage has nothing to do with theirs and what other people know or don't know inside of their marriage is neither of your concern. He's not saving her marriage, he just knows that her marriage is none of his business and I think it's about time you know the same.

Let God do what he does. Everything done in the dark will come to the light and it's not up to you to decide when that will happen and how people will react to their truths. You have lost control in your marriage so you want to have control in someone else's. You want to be judge and jury over someone else's marriage and nothing about that will ever be right.

It's Time to Let Go:

So, start the process of letting go. It will be a long, arduous process and you will have to do a lot of work on yourself but, what you are not to do is try to change anyone else or their marriage. You don't have jurisdiction over the man you married. You don't have jurisdiction over the other woman or her marriage. The only people you have jurisdiction over are your children and you. So, turn your focus inward. Instead of trying to make other people miserable, why don't you focus on making yourself happy?

Here's Your Homework:

  1. Take care of yourself now. Before you can do anything else for anyone else, you have to be well. Everyday, go the extra mile to take care of yourself, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Make sure to patch the holes in your life with healthy habits like exercise, clean eating, restful sleep, and quality time with your children. If you believe in God, pray. If you don't believe in God, pray. Create rituals for yourself that are all about you being with yourself, taking care of you! The Gorgeous Girl's Guide and its blogs will help you, as well as Steffans & Stansberry.
  2. Rededicate your home to the life you want, not the life you have. If your husband left and you are living in the home you once shared, that place is going to need a serious purging. If you have moved into a new place all your own, you'll need to make it feel like home and not the place you wound up after your marriage ended. No matter which situation you're in, take The Clear Course. It is my free, eight-week email course that will help you clear the clutter and stagnant energy in your home. While you're over at Amalie Decor, read through the Decor and the Single Girl blog then, order the Decor and the Single Girl ebook. These tools will help you prepare your home for the next phase of your life and relationships.
  3. Know it's already alright. Once you have immersed yourself in taking on and completing the healing process and have begun to focus on your personal happiness, be assured that everything is happening just the way it's supposed to and that everything is already alright. God doesn't allow things that can't be used for His and your greater good. Look at your turmoil and find a way to come out of it approved by God. Taking the high road isn't easy but that's why the prize at the end of the journey is so very great. But first, you have to know that everything is okay.
  4. Bridge the gap between your husband and you. Somehow, you have been under the impression that the concept of ruining someone else's marriages was directly tied to the salvaging of yours or of some form of yours. The truth is that nothing and no one can heal the friendship fractures of your relationship with your husband expect the both of you. Take the first step. Craft a calm and assuring letter that only speaks to these things: 
    1. The past is the past and none of it matters any longer.
    2. You only want to move forward with love, as friends and parents.
    3. The lines of communication are always open.
  5. Send this letter to him via email or post and don't think about it again. Do not expect a response or a particular kind of response. You're not doing this for him, you're doing this for you. If he is welcoming to the idea, wonderful! If not, wonderful! You have done your part and God will bless you for it.
  6. Stay the course. None of what has to happen is going to be easy but I can promise you it will all be very, very worth it. Repeat the mantras you have learned in this response, as well as the ones you will learn in the reading of our other blogs and websites. It will take constant repetition and practice, but you can do it.

Here's What Will Happen:

When you switch your focus from wanting to make other people unhappy to simply making yourself happy, the law of attraction will deliver even more happiness. Your life will improve exponentially and you will open your life and your heart to the opportunity of having healthier, more sustaining relationships in all facets of your life. You will also, most importantly, rebuild your relationship with yourself. You are bitter because you are choosing to be. Now, you will choose differently and when you do, you will see it is not your job to dole out punishments for bad behavior, that you don't have control over other people's lives, and that if you had more control over your life, you and I wouldn't have had this exchange. When you choose to be happy and to accept the way things are, you will not have the urge to force the hand of fate or to go around wrecking marriages. You will simply be.

In Conclusion:

Many times, when we have been betrayed, we turn right around and betray ourselves by perpetuating the pain we feel. We perpetuate it in ourselves and seek to spread that pain to others. As quoted by Buddha, holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. You are only hurting yourself, my love, and a hurt mother raises hurt children. It's time. Let it go.

Community Question:

Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you have been so hurt, all you want to do is hurt someone else? Like Betrayed in LA, have you focused more on your pain and the spreading of that pain, rather than on your recovery, health, and peace of mind? Please leave your thoughts, questions, or suggestions in the comment section, below.


New York Times best selling author, keynote speaker and workshop leader, founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co.