There are several factors that will sabotage personal as well as marital healing. Unless you’ve been through infidelity, you won’t’ easily identify them and may even encourage a few things which are actually saboteurs in disguise. Unfortunately, therapists can even fall victim to these errors which end up completely undermining the entire process of recovery for both spouses as well as unnecessarily creating yet another wall to have to leap over in recovery.

I liken these saboteurs to another name, roots. Roots are not easily seen and very easily hide beneath the surface. A tree has an insane amount of roots to it, yet we see so few, if any, besides its trunk. The longer I do what I do, the deeper I understand that infidelity is a life changing trauma. It doesn’t mean it can’t be healed but it does mean it has the ability to reshape someone’s life for either reformation or devastation. While I won’t relegate it to just some platitude, in many ways though, it’s how we process it, the help we seek out and the roots we allow to grow which will forever alter our lives for good or bad.

I’ll address two roots today, one for the betrayed and one for the unfaithful.

Root: The first root is the root of justification. We, the unfaithful, love to justify our affair(s). If only our spouse was this, that or the other. If only they weren’t so rejecting. If only they would have paid attention and given us the love and acceptance our affair partner gave us. I tried and tried to give him/her what she needed, but they were just never happy and it was never enough. I saw no way out.

Uprooting it: Fact is, all that may be true. They, the betrayed, may have been a mess. They may have been rejecting or struggled with all sorts of issues. I’m sure they were not perfect in any regard. But the fact is you felt about your spouse what you felt about your affair partner, years or decades earlier. The way to find solutions to your marital woes is never an affair. Justifying the affair only masks the shame one feels for their choices and it’s an enabler: enabling you to push away guilt and remorse and further lie to yourself that what you did was OK and justifiable and should be minimized. It only turns the knife in your betrayed spouse’s back, seemingly re-wounding them time and time again. You will only heal by owning what you’ve done.

Root: The second root is the root of bitterness. The betrayed find it incredibly hard to overcome the anger and resentment i.e. bitterness they feel about the affair(s). I’ve talked to betrayed spouses who are three, four or five years down the road from their spouse’s disclosure and they are stuck in bitterness and resentment. These roots discolor every action and every deed the unfaithful may do in an attempt of genuinely displaying empathy and remorse.

Uprooting it: Resentment imprisons the betrayed and keeps them stuck in their own pain and hurt, never allowing themselves to forgive and gain new life. Please note you have not and will not see any words saying ‘get over it, move on.’ Yet, we all have a choice how we respond in life. We can remain stuck in our anger and hatred, or we can gain new life by at the very least, pursuing our own healing and our own restoration. Letting go of bitterness does NOT imply what happened was OK or in any way permissible. But forgiveness is all about helping you set yourself free, even if the unfaithful is not empathetic or remorseful. That’s their issue. That’s their deception. That’s their choice. You have a choice to let go of bitterness and resentment and find new life, with deeper resolve and deeper perspective about joy which is still attainable in life, despite the pain you’ve been through. The timeline of such palpable joy is different for all, yet still attainable as you pursue new life and new hope. Bitterness will discolor every sunset, every song, every act. It will remain a saboteur and thief to all you endeavor to chase for new meaning in life. Uprooting bitterness will change every area of your life as well as the way in which you interpret every event in life.  

I pray we all let go of the sabotaging voices which seek to lead us further and further away from the shore of health and healing. I’ve allowed sabotaging voices and lies to destroy and discolor a part of my life and I hope and pray I never fall prey to them again.  I can only forge ahead, anchoring myself to truth and righteousness.  

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