October 3 2022

Overcoming Betrayal Trauma in Marriage: Getting Started


What is Betrayal Trauma in Marriage?

Betrayal trauma occurs when someone you are emotionally close to and reliant upon breaks your trust. In this article, we will focus specifically on betrayal trauma in the context of marriage. Betrayal trauma in marriage is challenging as you try to care for yourself and decide the next steps to take in your marriage and in your recovery. 

Examples of situations that may lead to betrayal trauma in marriage include:

  • Infidelity or Cheating (physical or emotional)
  • Withholding Important Information
  • Physical Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Dishonesty
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • The Discovery of Secretive Behavior (such as pornography, gambling, drugs, etc.)

How is Betrayal Trauma in Marriage Different From Other Forms of Betrayal Trauma?

Betrayal trauma in marriage can be extremely complicated and overwhelming to work through. Your spouse is someone you’ve committed yourself to, someone you’re supposed to be able to trust completely. Once that trust has been broken it can be difficult to determine what to do next and how to process what has happened. 

As a married couple, you likely share finances, a living space, and/or children. Perhaps you have been together for so long that imagining how life will change after this betrayal seems impossible. 

You may be surprised to realize to what extent the betrayal of your spouse has affected you. Like many others experiencing betrayal trauma, you may be experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Trust Issues
  • Dissociation or Mental Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach Pain
  • Sleep Disturbances

Emotional and interpersonal trauma take a toll on the body. It is important to recognize these effects as you decide the next steps you will take as you work through this experience. 

Healing After Betrayal Trauma in Marriage:

  1. Take your time. Right now it may all seem overwhelming and you may be tempted to make decisions immediately after discovering your spouse’s betrayal. Take a deep breath, it is okay to not know what to do. You don’t need to solve or fix everything right now. 
  1. Allow yourself to process what has happened. Be honest with yourself and recognize the emotions and feelings you’re working through after discovering this betrayal. These feelings might include:
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Numbness
  • Suspicion
  • Loss of Self-esteem
  • Confusion

    Some people find relief in writing these feelings down in a journal. This allows you to begin to identify your thoughts and feelings instead of ignoring them. 
  1. Have compassion for yourself. Take care of your body and mind. Exercise, eat healthy food, and find relaxing activities to help your body recharge from the work it is doing to recover from this experience. You are going through a difficult situation and deserve support and compassion, especially from yourself. 
  1. Seek help and support from others. You’re not alone. Broken trust with loved ones can make you feel isolated and withdrawn. Even if you’re not open to sharing the details of your spouse’s betrayal, you can reach out and spend quality time with close friends and/or family members to help you feel supported and connected to others through this difficult time.
  1. Consider a formal disclosure. It is difficult to begin healing without knowing the extent of your spouse’s betrayal and having an opportunity to ask lingering questions about the event. Couples navigating infidelity and betrayal trauma who are attempting to heal their relationship should consider participating in a formal disclosure with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. 

    It is important to think through what questions you need to be answered. By preparing these questions ahead of time, you are working to resolve things that haven’t added up in your mind. Your partner needs to prepare to answer these questions. Be careful to avoid asking questions that would provide information you do not need, (e.g. types of sex positions) or that require comparisons (e.g. “Did you like sex better with her?”). While you may want to ask these kinds of things, information such as this can often deepen trauma and make your recovery even more difficult.
  1. Set up a discussion about your approach with children, family, and friends. As a married couple, it is important that you decide what information you will share about the betrayal with your family and friends. Infidelity is extremely personal and can severely impact both spouses, other family members, and close friends. You may be worried about their judgment or being asked questions you don’t want to answer. It is important for you to speak to your spouse about how both of you would prefer to talk about the event. You’re not alone. Broken trust with loved ones can make you feel isolated and withdrawn. Even if you’re not open to sharing the details of your spouse’s betrayal, you can reach out and spend quality time with close friends and/or family members to help you feel supported and connected to others through this difficult time.

    While being on the same page is ideal, it’s not always possible. And in those cases, the betrayed spouse needs to know that they can take charge of their own life and reach out for help from trusted sources. Feeling trapped in silence is another form of emotional abuse.
  1. Consider working with a mental health professional to process your experiences. Overcoming betrayal trauma in marriage takes time, but the process can be easier to navigate with the right tools and support. Without proper guidance, it can be frustrating and challenging to determine where to go or what steps to take. Healing alone can be stressful, and trying to do so will only prolong your pain. Therapy, coaching, and support groups can serve as invaluable tools in your healing journey. 

Using Bloom to Start the Healing Process

Bloom provides the additional support and guidance you need to jump-start your healing process. Our content is designed to help you gain an understanding of how betrayal trauma is impacting your life and how you can bring peace back into your marriage.

You don’t have to travel the road of recovery alone. Sign up for Bloom’s free trial

About the Author

Bloom offers therapeutic online courses and community support for women healing from the trauma of infidelity or betrayal. We're dedicated to helping women gain confidence, hope, and resilience through professional therapeutic support, educational resources, and an empathetic community.