Very few things test the fabric of a relationship like infidelity does.
If you are the one who had an affair, your partner will inevitably be filled with all levels of anger once the truth comes out. In fact, the depth of their rage may feel overwhelming—not just to you, but to them as well.
The betrayal of infidelity rips at the very soul of a relationship. Your partner placed a profound trust in you when you committed to each other. That trust has now been torn away from them, and they are in a place of bewilderment and hurt.
What can you do from your end to cope with their rage?
Understand Their Rage
Perhaps your partner has called you every name in the book. They have yelled at you to the point of tears, yelled through their tears, yelled after their tears. Or maybe your partner leaves the room when you come in, gives you the silent treatment, or remains stone-faced when you try to make conversation.
Their immense pain will express itself through a variety of angry reactions and infuriated responses.
It’s easy to fall into habitual patterns of arguing, but this situation is different. When your partner expresses their anger in the weeks and months after an affair, you need to resist the urge to fight back. If you start to feel as though their anger is out of place, pause to consider how you would feel in their shoes. Find empathy for them—truly seek to understand what they are feeling.
Don’t Make Excuses
One of the worst things to do is to try to hide behind any “excuses” for your affair. Don’t try to put sideways blame on your partner for their annoying habits or personal faults. Making your partner feel as though they are in some way responsible for your decision to cheat further undermines the chances of healing.
With this in mind, try to stay calm when they express their anger. Validate their thoughts and feelings. Don’t tell them they’re being unreasonable or are overreacting.
You may be tempted to think it’s time to just move on once your secret is out, but it’s not that easy for your partner.
See Behind the Anger
Behind your partner’s anger is very often a deep feeling of fear and insecurity. When a person experiences profound betrayal, they may be questioning their very assumptions of reality. They wonder if they themselves are even lovable. They worry that there’s more going on than they know or that it will happen again.
Thus, their anger can be a way of protecting themselves from more pain and vulnerability. It’s also a way for your partner to express feelings that are too painful to talk about openly.
Your partner will likely have lots of questions for you about your affair—a lot of questions.
Therapists recommend that you do answer them truthfully. Yes, the answers will hurt your partner. Yes, you may be embarrassed. And likely, your partner will ask the same questions many times again. But honesty is required if you ever want a chance to restore trust in your relationship.
Infidelity causes such profound trauma in a relationship that professional help truly is a necessity to find a way to move forward together. Trying to navigate such a place of pain and confusion on your own may easily prove to be impossible.
Both of you will need a neutral third party to talk with. A therapist provides wisdom and knowledge gained from their training and helping other couples in your position. They can offer perspectives you may haven’t considered. And they can teach you new ways of responding to each other.
In Emotionally Focused Therapy, the therapist’s goal is to help you come to a place of restored attachment with each other.
Your partner’s anger and pain will very likely last for a long time, but with genuine effort and help, it is possible to find healing. Some couples even find that their marriages are stronger for having worked through infidelity.
Our office specializes in helping couples who are dealing with painful issues, including infidelity. Please contact me to learn more.