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Caree Brown L.C.S.W. Psychotherapy

Individual, Couples, & Family Therapy


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Fix it . . . Or Forget It?

When there has been a break in trust within a relationship, and you have been deceived or betrayed, there is usually a part of you that wonders if it makes sense to stay and work on your relationship or leave. We are so angry and in so much pain, it seems impossible that we can ever begin to trust our partner again.

Feelings like these are normal but they don’t mean that the relationship can’t be fixed. It is often not the betray itself that destroys the relationship but rather the way it is handled.

In response to the deception, your anger is the hardest, but most important part of the puzzle to navigate. Ask your partner if he or she can hang in there with you to go through your angry outbursts, your anxiety and your depression, all normal reactions to a trauma. In fact, many professionals believe that people often suffer a kind of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in response to a severe betrayal.

In spite of your immense upset, let your partner know that you do want a way to trust him or her again. And if he or she can accept all your anger and mood swings, that will let you know that he does care enough about you and the relationship and that trying to rebuild trust between you may be fruitful.

However, if the intensity of your anger is abusive , controlling or verbally or physically attacking, or if it goes on for longer than your partner can endure, then the possibility of restoring trust can blow up in your faces. Your destructive behavior will discourage your partner and will short-circuit his efforts to get you back.

Once you are able to stop your anger from controlling you, you may find that your calmer attitude may begin to facilitate the much needed communication that serves as a bridge towards building trust again. It is this communication that can begin to uncover the reasons for why the betrayal occurred in the first place. On some level, either one or both of you were not getting what you needed from each other, and if this can be understood, accepted and respected without blame, then a
joint effort of problem-solving can begin.

Most couples at this point in the betrayal trauma often find that they end up talking to each other much more than they have in years. Both people need to accept their part in the betrayal. From that can grow an attitude of mutual compassion and understanding , and a desire to heal what has been broken. All the old painful resentments can change from stumbling blocks to stepping stones as expressed needs become new goals of emotional and behavioral changes.

Over time, these new attitudes and behaviors can begin to form new patterns of intimacy and if sustained, forgiveness can begin to emerge. Your relationship can actually become better  than it was before the betrayal! Your excruciating crisis can miraculously turn into a fertile opportunity to co- create that fulfilling loving relationship you have always dreamed of!

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