The Seduction of the Betrayed

If you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll note that I make no excuses for my infidelity or anyone else’s.  Bad marriages don’t cause infidelity, bad choices do. Betrayed spouses often believe if they would have just had more sex with their spouse, or paid attention to their needs, they wouldn’t have cheated.  That reasoning is flawed entirely. Sure, sure there may have been vulnerabilities within the marriage, yet the fact remains, we cheat out of selfishness and dysfunction.

It’s at this point however that we must note the battle the betrayed must fight. It’s a battle against seduction. Typically, I see the betrayed seduced by bitterness, anger and resentment. Don’t the betrayed have a right to be angry? Absolutely. However, what I’m speaking to is the seduction to be consumed by anger, resentment and perpetual disrespect to the detriment of your recovery and your ability to experience peace and freedom in the future. We focus a lot on the struggle of the unfaithful to no longer be seduced by their addiction, their affair partner, or even their selfishness and it’s definitely valid. Yet, not to be overlooked, the betrayed has a battle to fight as well. The betrayed has to fight against holding on to anger and holding on to resentment and an unleveled playing field with their cheating spouse for the rest of their lives.  Do they have a right to process their feelings? Without a doubt.  Do they have a right to hammer away asking question upon question till they get the truth? Yes. I truly believe so. Do they have a right to remain bitter and resentful? I don’t believe so, and I see it as a deathnail to marriages every week. I make this point solely because I hope you understand that remaining angry and bitter - while valid - only destroys you. You are punishing yourself more than your mate, and you don’t deserve that.

The intensity of emotions during recovery is where the seduction comes in. It seems invigorating. It seems as though you have a right to this bitterness and your pain entitles you to do whatever you need to do to survive. It seems terrifying to let of this anger. You don’t want your spouse to get off easy, yet it only clouds your judgment and reasoning faculties.  It’s seductive because it seems like it’s the right thing to do, yet in the end will only exacerbate things and make life harder for both parties seeking reconciliation or even seeking new life.

How long you say, will the seduction last? Probably about a year or even two years; Rick says 18-24 months. It really depends on the personality and life experiences of the betrayed, but typically one has to fight this battle as a betrayed for between a year and two years. It also depends on the severity of offense or multiple offenses. Hence the reason it’s vital to get the right help one needs to process through the anger and bitterness, while refusing to allow the seduction to win. I heard long ago, “there is some truth in every lie,” and that’s what makes the deception so difficult to fight off. Our sense of entitlement when we’ve been wronged can seem like a friend, yet turn on us at just the right moment.

It’s hard as hell I know. From watching Samantha fight her own battle against it, to helping numbers of other betrayed spouses fight through this war, it’s not for the faint of heart. It is in fact, possible though. You’ll need help to do it and you’ll need community who can stand with you. I’d give Harboring Hope a try before I’d do any other support group as you need a specific group of people (and game plan) who are also going through betrayal to stand with and come out on the other side.   

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Samuel, I am fighting the battle against anger and resentment right now. And losing big time! For 18 months, I believed both of my husband's affairs with the same woman were just emotional. I took Harboring Hope and we attended an EMS weekend. I worked through the pain, had put the affairs on the back burner and did not feel any anger. I moved back home this past July. Then 3 weeks later, evidence emerges that shows he had been lying about the affairs being only emotional, and they were really physical and very deeply connected. Evidence has been trickling in since then. I feel betrayed all over again and the anger and resentment has returned even more than before. So my question is: Is it 18 - 24 months after the last disclosure that this battle may rage inside me? The last disclosure on October 13 was a text from his AP telling me about things they did, gifts he bought, trips they took, etc. I feel like I am back at square one, but everybody seems to think I should be over it by now because I already grieved my way through the initial discovery. What are your thoughts on this?

tough one

karen, im sorry my friend, but from my vantage point, I'd do one of two things: 1. i'd go through forgiveness again, and resolve that you just are not going to know it all. that you'll accept what you know and do the best you can and believe the best and hope for a good life together. some betrayed who are in tough situations like yours come to a point where they realize, you know what, I know what i need to know and it's the best i can do and i'll have to accept it and move on. i can't stay stuck and paralyzed. i need to embrace what i know and move forward. 2. run. i'd honestly tell you if you can't do 1 (above) i'd divorce him and run and pursue your next chapter in life alone till maybe you find someone else. if 1 isn't something you're willing to do, then i'd begin to transition on. the fact is, it seems like he just won't change. he just won't stop and won't live in the light and go all in. so i'd have to say, regrettably, and cautiously, I would begin to transition away from him and realize he just doesn't want it and doesn't want to do what it takes to have the type of recovery he could have and you could have. maybe he needs more time alone to realize the error of his ways as it seems like he's held on to things way too long. i'm sorry my friend but i think it's the best move for you. it will take courage and it will take help and community so i hope you can find the strength to do it.

3+ years and failing fast

I'm still battling many issues related to my wife's brief affair more than 3 years ago. It is a daily struggle against flashbacks, resentment and even contempt. I do love her, but I'm so disappointed in her actions that I cannot let go and have long term plans to leave.
I always read the 18-24.months issue and feel disappointed (weak) for not being on schedule. I don't want to be one of those who are still holding onto the issue a dozen years later...but I definitely see how that could happen.
I think its my own ego holding onto the hurt...but I don't feel what she did is forgivable or acceptable in our marriage. Any marriage.
Any advice?

anon2....there is a way out

thank you for your comment. if it's been three years, it's OK. it's not the end of the world. however, it is making things probably harder than it needs to be. to still be where you appear to be at three years, is probably excruciating. i understand how you can be disappointed and have extreme anger towards her, but the answer my friend, is forgiveness. to say what she did is unforgivable, I get it, but i'd disagree. forgiveness is the way out for the betrayed. not cheap, quick, just make them happy forgiveness. but deep seeded, concentrated, willing to forge ahead forgiveness. you'll need help to get there and that kind of forgiveness has layers to it. samantha forged through layer after layer of forgiveness, but she got there and she and I are all the more redeemed and restored for it. forgiveness is for YOU. it sets YOU free. it lets YOU go. it clears YOUR mind, heart and soul my friend. it's a gift you give YOURSELF. it will help you find hope and find freedom. forgiveness does NOT mean you're just turning a blind eye or saying that what she did was OK and ACCEPTABLE, it just means you won't let it imprison you the rest of your life and/or marriage. also, for where you're at, have you given any thought to the ems weekend where these things can be addressed by experts? it saved my life friend and saved our marriage. it's just as dedicated to your healing as it is your wife's healing. if you're failing fast, cascading down the mountain of hopelessness, you'll need an intervention of some sorts. i know that's a strong word, but it fits for what you're dealing. it's something like the ems weekend that i fully believe in and i know it will help you. here are a few articles to read from the site on forgiveness as well: i hope those work. if you want more info, you may need to talk to someone at AR and see if you can get some info about the emsw. if you need any other help or insight, feel free to post, i'm happy to help any way I can.

Resentment/mixed feelings

My 'husband' is still with his AP after 16 months and even after I gave birth to his daughter 8 months ago, by myself mind you, and trying desperately hard to let go and move on for my sake and my two kids, I still find my bitterness and hope for reconciliation to rule my thoughts and actions. Just tonight we went to a parent coordination meeting where I had to hear yet again he wants nothing to do with me and I can't let go of my mixed emotions of both hatred of him and his continued affair's destructive nature to my family and also my love of him knowing this is not the man I married. When do I get to the point where I don't feel either emotion?!?! I'm so emotionally drained!


Maryanna, I'm so sorry for your pain. that's got to be one of the toughest situations to walk out for sure. it's very normal at that amount of time to feel what you're feeling. who wouldn't???? right now, i'd simply encourage you to know that forgiveness is a choice never usually a feeling. choosing to forgive has to come out of a choice to do it, regardless of your emotional reaction. it simply starts with you praying and deciding by faith to forgive. it also has layers. what you start to work through right now, will take time and will take a decision to work through the layers of the pain and hurt. i don't think you'll ever get to the point that you don't experience either emotion. i'd encourage you to seek to love him down the road, but for now, i think it may be about acceptance. acceptance of what has happened and what has gone on. acceptance that he is in another world and will not sober up. acceptance that this is reality right now and that unfortunately, nothing you can do is changing him, but the goal is to change you and work on you and do what you can to heal yourself. if you need help, i would suggest praying something like this: God, I choose by faith, to forgive ______. i release all bitterness and anger toward him. i refuse to continue to hold this against him. i refuse to let my own heart to hate him or despise him. i forgive him by faith and by choice. i also hand him over to you to do what you need and want to do with him. he is your son. he is your child. you know how to handle him better that i do. i turn away from rage, hate, anger and bitterness and choose love, and forgiveness. i hope that helps and gives you a picture of just one helpful way to move towards forgiveness. it will not be the only time you have to pray that and it will not be the last time you'll have to work through it, but it's an excellent start. hope that helps.

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