There are no two discovery/disclosure events that are the same, yet somehow we can all end up with that same shared experience of pain and betrayal trauma. How did you discover your husband was cheating on you? Did he tell you he was cheating, or did you find out from someone else? Maybe you uncovered their cheating on your own, or you discovered a series of events that pointed to infidelity. However the cheating was exposed, I beat it has left a lasting impact on your memory.
My experience and the experience of many other betrayed wives discovering their husbands were cheating has been so painful that it is permanently engraved inside our heads and with continuing impact.
During my self-care time recently, I questioned myself about some of the ways I turn up in conversations with my husband. Why do I sometimes get upset before my husband finishes what they are trying to tell me? The truth is that I think I already know the answer. I finish what they are saying in my mind at lightning speed. Then I will start arguing with them about what I just decided they were saying.
Why do I do this? I know it sounds illogical, right! Instead of using that magic moment when my partner shares something challenging, my getting upset robs me of learning more about them. It also robs my partner of discovering more about themselves while putting words to their thoughts and feelings. I kill the conversation by starting an argument. And I do it with an argument that began in my own head.
Whether you stayed with your husband or not, I am sure that I am not the only not one who does this. Do you too struggle when either your husband or current partner starts to get real with you? As a result of the trauma being cheated on causes, our emotions become heightened. And our heightened emotions change the way we show up.
After Being Cheated On, We Crave Connection
The truth is, when my partner gets real and shares his thoughts with me, it's time for me to listen and learn more about them. We all want our partners to be vulnerable and intimate with us and share their hearts. After being cheated on, we don't feel safe so we crave a deep connection, right!? To feel safe we want to feel connected with our husbands again or our new partner because they are our person. Spending time talking about anything and everything builds and repairs relationships, and we want that. Yet, after the discovery of being cheated on, when certain subjects come up, are we safe enough to hear them?
Like me, do you shut your partner down by second-guessing them and wonder why the conversation turns sideways? I deeply struggle to hear some things come out of my partner's mouth now I have been cheated on. It's like my brain has changed since discovering my husband cheated on me..
Triggering Conversations After Being Cheated On
The more I heal from the cheating through doing my self-care, the more I catch myself and see how I react when my partner brings up triggering topics. As we learned last week, triggers are not all bad. They show us what needs to heal in our lives or what boundaries we need to set to feel safe. We need to sit with the information a trigger is sending us, go over it, and get curious about ourselves and why we feel the way we feel. Are we angry, sad, happy, fearful, disgusted, or surprised? Self-care helps us see what is under that feeling and what might be driving it?
Last night, my partner and I went to see the new Top Gun movie on the big screen. It had loads of close-up scenes of pilots' faces as they experienced intense G-forces. Their entire bodies got impacted, their breathing became labored, and their ability to think became compromised. I am sure this is what I look like when triggered, and it's not pretty. However, self-care has become the buffer I purposefully build in my life daily. When I feel myself slipping into that G-force-triggered state, I now have the skills to choose to pull out.
Although I stayed after being cheated on, I don't want to behave in certain ways with my partner anymore, and I definitely don't want to sabotage essential conversations. Self-care has changed me and continues to change me for the better. I have become an active participant in my life rather than a victim of my husband's cheating.
I believe that how we discovered our husbands were cheating and how we react now to triggers are closely linked. Yet we can control our triggers through self-care rather than fall prey to how our brains warn us that danger is ahead.
How Did You Discover Your Husband Was Cheating?
How did you discover that your husband was cheating on you? We can use the way we discovered infidelity as a springboard to learn and grow. Because the way we discovered our husbands were cheating, and all the traumatic events surrounding it, profoundly impact how we show up now during challenging conversations with our husbands or future partners.
Staying in some conversations with my partner is so hard. It's especially true when they say something that takes me straight back to the trauma and pain of discovering the cheating. My brain evaluates everything my partner says and instantly decides if there is a problem to solve. Sadly, it seems to think there is a problem more often than not, and if I don't fight the problem, I will be hurt again. The fear of repeated cheating or trauma pain drives me. I am not wrong to feel this way, it's a protective reaction because of the trauma I have experienced through being cheated on.
Yet my heightened emotions propel me into action before I have the whole story. It's like I jump before I look.
Discovering My Husband Was Cheating
For me, the initial cheating disclosure was one of the most horrific moments of my life. Arriving home late from work, my husband came at me guns blazing. He poured out his dysfunction on me with a vengeance and loathsome anger. It seemed that I was the source of all his problems. His face distorted as they spat his lies and excuses for wanting to spend time with another woman at me. My husband actually blamed me for him getting attached to this woman because our relationship made him so unhappy. He acted like a victim with no choice, blaming me and our marriage as the tyrant who forced him into this.
And that was just the beginning; he had just opened Pandora's box. What he did to unburden himself was now a huge burden on me. My now stress-filled brain and body turned from trusting my husband to danger and high alert. So discovery and verification set in with his every word and action under scrutiny. In an instant, fear had changed my thinking. I saw something I could never unsee and now knew something I could never unknow. He was attached to another woman, and I was left stunned and rejected. Fear became a stranglehold around my neck.
Cheating, Lies, and Discovery
Sadly for me, my husband's first disclosure was no disclosure; it was just lies, and stories he had convinced himself of that justified his yet-to-be-revealed actions. It was not thought out and came at me as a verbal assault. Perhaps he could no longer contain his moral dissonance of being an adulterer. Yet that night, he held onto the lie that he was not and had not cheated on me.
But he had shared enough shocking information that I turned into a bloodhound. So I followed the scent, so to speak, and caught the fox in their lies. To discover that I was being lied to in such a horrific way was shocking. That my husband could look me in the eye and blatantly lie while simultaneously blaming me knocked the air out of my body. His cowardly behavior left me to uncover the truth, and that took months. It stole my sleep because I was hacking his computer all night, and it took away my ability to believe anything he said.
When I discovered he was cheating and lying about it, the naive trust I had had in my husband left, never to return. Instead, I have grown my self-trust, confidence in my intuition, trust that I will be OK regardless of what he does or doesn't do, trust that I create my future, and not rely on him or someone else to do it for me. I now have a far more grown-up trust based on reality, self-love, and a solid foundation. I remind myself often that I am safe now. The cheating happened in the past, and it is not happening now.
Discovery and Triggers
My husband's cheating had lasted nearly two years. It took another two years for him to consistently begin to take responsibility for his cheating and lies rather than reverting to blame and making me the scapegoat. I experienced many more traumas as he came to own his deceptive unfaithful acts and accept himself as a flawed person. Throughout this time, I suffered greatly.
Each time my husband uses blame or victim talk, I revert to the state of panic I experienced when I first discovered he was cheating and capable of lying to my face. My fear can get amplified by his anger or how he speaks to me. When I don't feel safe, know what is true, or whether lies are coming out of my husband's mouth, I am triggered.
My brain never wants me to experience the agony of discovering my husband is cheating again, so even a hint of lying or anger causes it to trigger into high alert. Now, whenever I feel blamed, I physically experience panic surge throughout my body. I am not wrong for feeling this way. It's the consequence of being cheated on and a normal reaction to how it was discovered and disclosed. Because I stayed in the relationship after my husband cheated, and I wanted to have a meaningful relationship in the future, I knew that needed to learn to cope with my triggers.
While my husband wishes he had never cheated, his subsequent regret is how I found out that he had cheated. It was cruel, dragged out, and caused so much more unnecessary pain than it should have for me. I can't change that experience, but I can heal from it. And part of that healing is using my experience to learn more about myself, increase my resilience and capacity as an individual, and help others going through the agony of infidelity.
Triggers Take Us Back to the Pain of Discovering the Cheating
We can't go back in time and stop our husbands from cheating or remove any of the painful events. But we can move forward from the pain their cheating caused us. We can heal from every horrific word and detail that traumatized us. Our memories will remain, and our brains will still trigger us with warnings, but we have the power choice when this happens. One option builds us and our ability to show up as relational, whether we stay with our husbands or not after they cheated. The other adds more stress and pain into our lives, leaving us burdened by feeling the pain of being cheated on and remaining triggered. To argue with what happened in the past causes suffering.
Do consider taking the self-care coaching course, which is specifically designed to build you up after the devastation of being cheated on. I know self-care has changed my life, and it can change yours too. Here is what a class member has to say about the self-care coaching course -
"My entry into the trauma of betrayal began in June of 2018. Until Jan of 2020, my partner continued to use me as the "reason" for his affairs. I'm sure many of you have been blamed as well. In May of 2020, we took a marriage course, and his tune began to change. Unfortunately for myself, I had gained 50lbs and felt worthless. I met The Betrayed Wife and took her self-care course in August of 2020. Our group met once a week to learn to take care of the only person we have control over. US! One lesson in particular, titled "Forgiveness," began my change. This wasn't just any old forgive others that we've heard. It was self-forgiveness! What? Was someone interested in my healing? Not my spouse or marriage, ME! Give yourself the best gift ever. Sign up for the Self-care Course. I promise you it will change you."
Self-care is the best way I experienced to move forward after infidelity. After discovering cheating, we are often so caught up in trying to change our husbands or trying to heal our marriages that we forget that we are the ones who were blind-sided and traumatized. We need to prioritize our healing because our bodies were not designed to live in a state of constant stress. Only we can remove that stress, and caring for ourselves gives us the capacity to do that so we can heal after being cheated on. Please ask me how...
What was your disclosure like?
Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below. Whether you want to share to help heal yourself or help others, putting our story in writing helps us process. If sharing brings up things you want to talk about, please reach out; you don't have to take this journey alone. Here is a link to book a private call with me. Accepting the love and support from someone who cares is a profoundly healing thing to do for yourself.