After Betrayal: Don’t Second-Guess Yourself Using 20/20 Hindsight

Part 1: You Are Not Stupid for Having Been Deceived
Part 2: After Betrayal: Don’t Second-Guess Yourself Using 20/20 Hindsight

Last time, we talked about how stupid we can feel after betrayal is discovered or disclosed. It is a universal feeling that only adds insult to the injury of betrayal. It leaves us wondering: If we had been savvier, would everything have somehow been different and our spouses would not have betrayed us? There is nothing like marital betrayal to make you question everything about yourself, your reality and even your sanity.

affair recovery survivors blog jen forgive yourself for not seeing or wanting to see the betrayal

Maybe you had absolutely no idea and now look back and wonder how you could have missed it. Maybe you did know, at least on some level, that you were being betrayed. Or maybe you just had a sense, a vague uneasiness you couldn’t put your finger on, that now seems so clear in hindsight. You are probably kicking yourself and feeling as if you betrayed yourself.

If you didn’t know, you might chide yourself — unfairly — for not paying closer attention.

If you knew, or thought you knew, and did not act or felt powerless, you had valid reasons for your choices. Be it fear, loss of control, worries about your children, concerns about your finances or anxiety about your future and reputation, these were your choices and no one else has to validate them. They were valid, and you do not need to make any excuses for them.

Infidelity Is Masterful Trickery, and You Are Its Target

I understand this all too well. My husband’s affair went on for well over a year. I “knew” from the beginning, even asking him point-blank many times, but I never got the truth. I was lied to repeatedly and I knew it, and he knew I didn’t believe him. It was like a game of chicken. I never told a single soul.

I made many plans, mapped out my future without him, strategized my public reveal to his and her families and co-workers, and told them both off in my imagination. In reality, however, I did nothing. I had so many reasons why I did not ultimately act, but I kicked myself over and over then and in all the years that followed.

It took 11 years for me to finally get the truth. And in all that time, I was left wondering, uneasy and never settled. After D-Day, I was relentless in lambasting my former self for sitting by and being a doormat — I’m sure you can imagine.

Infidelity, no matter which kind, is intentionally hidden from you by the person who knows you the best, the person who knows how to mislead or confuse you more than anyone else. He or she knows your fears and weaknesses, and they know how you think. Therefore, he or she has all the tools and skills to manipulate you into not knowing. Think about it: No one else would have all the history and components of your relationship to deceive you so deftly.

Your spouse has the best capability to fool you, as they know you so well and also know they have the benefit of your trust; they know your weaknesses, your fears, your habits and your routines. It is easy for them to know the ways in which you would be most easily deceived, and they know where you would likely turn or look if you were suspicious. Infidelity is masterful trickery, and you are its target.

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Regardless of whether the unfaithful spouse is supportive, unsupportive or gone, we want you to feel hope again; we want you to feel whole again after betrayal. On October 2, join us virtually at Hope Rising to learn from and grow with others as you navigate this challenging season. To learn more and purchase tickets, click the button below.

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You Should Be Able to Expect Trust — Not Betrayal

The reality of marital betrayal is this: The person who knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities is the person who can make us doubt ourselves like no one else can. If he or she had just said, “Hey, I’m actually going to meet up with my boss for sex tomorrow afternoon,” you obviously would have reacted very differently.

This is certainly not to say your spouse intentionally inflicted pain on you, or that they even thought this would hurt you at all. In fact, many unfaithful partners are so delusional that they don’t even consider the consequences of their actions. They believe you will never find out and, therefore, will never be hurt. Often, the “why” behind the unfaithful spouse’s infidelity is complicated and has roots in their own pain. And many, if not most unfaithful spouses, are truly and deeply sorry and repentant for the hurt they have caused once he or she recognizes and absorbs the weight of it after betrayal.

The point of this blog, though, is to soothe your conscience. As the betrayed spouse, you did not know, and you should not have expected to know. You should have expected to trust the person who committed to have your back, live life with you and be faithful to you — no matter what life threw at you. This was your expectation and your role, and you fulfilled it.

This is not to say you were a perfect spouse, as this does not exist; I certainly was not a perfect spouse, and I am very comfortable owning my side of the street now that some time has passed after betrayal and the initial implosion of my life that followed. In fact, I appreciate how this life disaster has afforded me the opportunity and humility to see, really see, how I needed to change and grow in many ways.

This does not excuse my husband’s choices, but it does help both of us put the puzzle pieces together as to why he felt the way he did at the time of his affair and how those feelings skewed his perspective. It has also allowed us both to be very real and raw in seeing our flaws, and it has helped us see the ways in which we hurt each other, even without awareness, at the time. In turn, this has given us the impetus to be intentional about choosing to be different, more open and vulnerable, and to be the people we really want to be and deserve from each other.

Forgive Yourself for Not Seeing the Betrayal

Let me say this again: None of this awareness excuses or justifies a spouse's choice to cheat. This choice is theirs alone, and they have to live with it and any consequences that result after betrayal.

It turns out, I am not stupid and neither are you. With the tools, insight and information you had, you were doing the best that you could. No matter how much you knew or thought you knew, you have enough pain and heartache coming at you right now, and you don’t need to feel stupid on top of it. So, please, give yourself the grace you would give a friend. Forgive yourself for not knowing, and move on to the rest of the issues at hand. You have a lot on your plate already, do not add to it by beating yourself up.

After betrayal, it is hard to trust your own reality and know what is true. You can trust yourself because your eyes are now wide open, and you will never ignore your intuition again. You will be prepared to face the pain and consequences, rather than hide or deny if you feel it again. For now, give yourself grace that you were doing the best you could then, and know that you are doing the best you can now. You are not stupid, you never were stupid, and this is not on you.

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There is hope after betrayal. If you're the betrayed spouse, we invite you to take the first step in transcending your pain by attending our 2021 Hope Rising Conference on October 2. Our eight incredible speakers have been through the heart-wrenching, devastating experience of infidelity, and they want to inspire you and empower your healing and rebuilding.

"(What I liked most about Hope Rising was) the sense of 'normalcy' and that feeling where you have the support of everyone around you brings a lot of hope. To have a conference just for the betrayed communicates something really special about the care that God, through Affair Recovery, has put into everyone out there."
— 2020 Hope Rising participant.

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I wish I could have read this

I wish I could have read this immediately after my D-Day 4 years ago... after the initial numbness and shock wore off, I think the most overwhelming feeling, besides intense shame, was feeling stupid. Of course, looking back, there were signs, but my brain was not ready to even entertain the possibility that my favorite person in the world was capable of such deception. Thank you for writing this... I hope it helps other betrayed spouses to be kinder and gentler to themselves as they heal.

Thank you for your comment.

Thank you for your comment. I felt the same way after discovery and I hope I can help someone else feel even the smallest bit understood. Infidelity is hard enough without all the additional ways in which we beat up on ourselves.

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