Series Three: Blog
Alex had been cheating on Alice from day one. Secretly, he hired strippers at his bachelor party and never made it through his honeymoon without cheating with someone he met at the pool of the resort where he and Alice stayed during the week after the wedding. It didn’t stop. He slept with Alice’s best friend, hired hookers when on the road for his work, and was hooked on porn. Alice caught him looking at porn on his phone late one night and suspicioned there was more but was afraid to confront him. Then, one evening Alex’s phone rang and Alice picked it up thinking it was their daughter needing to be picked up from volleyball. But it wasn’t. It was a strange female voice who asked for Alex. When the person recognized that it was not Alex she hung up. Triggered with suspicion, Alice checked his texts and phone messages. She discovered a ton of graphic sexting texts between Alex and a woman named Lisa. She checked the phone number and figured there were over 75 phone calls to this one woman’s number. She called the number on Alex’s phone and the same voice of woman answered the call and Alice hung up without saying a word. She burst into tears because she knew what she had been dreading for quite some time. She confronted Alex about the call, but he denied and lied about anything inappropriate. She stayed with it and laid out the enormity of detail that she uncovered and finally after hours of adamantly denying and gaslighting Alice, Alex broke down and admitted that he had been having an affair with a woman named Lisa who worked at his company. He piecemealed his history of sexual misbehavior. It wasn’t till a month and a half later when through intensive therapy and an extensive sexual history polygraph that Alice learned that Alex was never faithful to her throughout their ten years of marriage.
She determined that the only way she would remain in the marriage is if he moved out, go to inpatient treatment recommended by his therapist and do whatever they suggested he do.
This is a common story for therapists who work with compulsive sexual betrayal. The stories vary and some relationships are able to heal betrayal brokenness while many are not. Addictive behavior is often concealed in deceit and secrets. In time, compulsive infidelity is discovered by partners and other family members. It is always traumatic for everybody.
Healing around betrayal is difficult and dicey. The trauma that is incurred impacts both the betrayer and the betrayed. The hurt is multifaceted.
Therapists treating broken trust have a number of considerations to assess when administering treatment. There are established guidelines for counselor support. However, while there are similarities that are common to all partner betrayal, no two betrayal responses are the same. Couples whose relationships have been riddled with compulsive infidelity with long term dishonesty have a number of consideration to assess.
Destructive behavior, broken hearts and tire tracks across the back caused by betrayal can heal. However, it is a long journey the insists that both partners embrace the healing journey. One or the other being the “identified patient” will impact prognosis for healing and stymy healing. Addict betrayal is not only about relational infidelity. Addicts betray their own values and the trust of those who are counting on them to work a program for healing. It is crucial that the entire family treat the addictive behavior from a family systems perspective. Each family member will need to address the impact of trauma that warps perspective and undermines trust.
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