I love this quote:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
No one is sure of the original author, but it’s been attributed to Philo of Alexandria, Plato, Ian MacLaren, and John Watson. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful message—especially for survivors of chronic infidelity or a spouse’s addiction.
Betrayed partners fight a daily battle that is usually invisible, even to those closest to them.
When you think about battling the consequences of compulsive or out-of-control sexual behavior, it’s logical to think of addiction as the enemy. Naming addiction as the enemy focuses the fight on something external and impersonal—giving unfaithful spouses, betrayed partners, and couples a common adversary around which to bond in opposition.
While addiction makes sense as a potential enemy, the reality is that addiction, as a condition, will never be completely eradicated. And on a personal level, no one ever completely “beats” or cures addiction.
When you’re facing the pain of betrayal, avoid wasting time and energy on battles that aren’t winnable or worth the effort—and more importantly, won’t heal you or your relationship. Keep your focus on worthy opponents.
As a betrayed partner, here is a short list of who—or what—your worthy opponent is not:
- An affair partner
- Sexually oriented businesses
- Porn stars
- Personal profiles on hook-up sites or apps
- Your spouse’s fantasies
None of these are worthy opponents because you determine their power—including how much power they have over you.
When doing battle with the devastating impact of infidelity or addiction, choose a worthy opponent. A worthy opponent is intrinsically powerful, and can slay you. If you’re not vigilant and you lose the battle, even temporarily, you will experience mountains of unnecessary pain and suffering.
Here are some examples of opponents worth doing battle with:
- Any thought that tells you you’re less than, or that “they” (whoever “they” are) are better than you.
- Any thought that tells you that you’ve lost. For example, thinking that addiction, an affair partner, or pornography won.
- Time spent monitoring, following, or tracking your spouse rather than taking care of yourself, your children, your work, or your future.
- Habits of denial, minimizing your spouse’s behavior, or choosing to believe lies rather than face an uncomfortable truth that requires you to take a difficult action on your behalf.
- Debilitating triggers
Be kind to yourself.
May you battle and conquer every worthy opponent.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2017)
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