Betrayed partners often want to know whether there is hope after long-term sexual betrayal.
Hope is defined as:
a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
It’s interesting to note that the archaic definition of hope is: a feeling of trust.
While all betrayed partners might not agree about what they expect or desire to happen in the future, most would agree that what they hope for in their relationship is:
- Sustained fidelity, or the absence of unfaithful behaviors
- Honesty and transparency
- A fulfilling sexual connection
The simple answer is yes, there is hope.
In order for you to experience sustained fidelity, honesty, and a fulfilling sexual connection, both you and your unfaithful spouse will need to devote time and energy—both individually and as a couple—to activities and processes that will heal and restore your relationship. In Chapter 9 of Patrick Carnes’ book Facing the Shadow [3rd Edition]: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery (What Makes for Long-Term Success), he outlines the 9 characteristics of successful couples whose marriages survived discovery, disclosure, and beyond.
And while your unfaithful spouse has a role in making what you are hopeful for a reality, he (or she) should not be the sole source of your hope.
So, how can you sustain hope?
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, the best thing you can do beginning now to keep hope alive is to focus on yourself.
When you practice good self-care, you will be much more capable of navigating the challenging journey you’re on. You will feel better, and when you feel better you will be more prepared to face the ultimate outcome of your situation—whether your relationship survives infidelity or it doesn’t.
One of the most dangerous mindsets that is guaranteed to bring you pain even if you’re not in a relationship impacted by infidelity, is to look to your spouse—or any other person—for your happiness or to determine whether or not you believe you are acceptable, likable, or lovable.
When you generate your own self-love, peace, and joy through good self-care, it’s like a vaccination. Self-love and self-acceptance protects you from being devastated or completely losing hope because another person disappointed you, or was unwilling or unable to show up for you in the way you wanted.
If this sounds difficult, it is!
My invitation to you is to look to yourself first when seeking hope. You can notice and acknowledge the progress of your spouse, which is also another source of hope. But first, find ways to love and honor yourself in exactly the same ways you want others to love and honor you. Practice the very best self-care you can, and ask for what you want in your relationship.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2018)
Survival Strategies for Betrayed Partners blog articles are protected by U.S. copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, distributed, or re-published without written permission of the author.