Three steps to help you put the past behind you.
There are no words to adequately describe the shock and pain of betrayal. It shakes the foundation of not only your relationship, but of your reality – all of it. And you resent it. You resent the action that your spouse or partner took to destroy everything you thought your life was. Yet you also know that you can’t continue living this way and you start wondering how to get over resentment after an affair.
Luckily getting over it is possible. And it all starts with understanding what resentment is.
What is resentment?
According to dictionary.com, resentment is the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult. And, of course, this is technically correct. However, it pales when you consider resentment that is due to infidelity.
When you feel resentment because your spouse has cheated on you, describing it as simply displeasure or indignation seems trite. Resentment after an affair is crushing. It lays you bare and exposes insecurities and fears you never imagined were possible.
It’s also overwhelming. It can consume you every time you see the person who betrayed you, the one who was supposed to love and care for you above all others and yet didn’t. It can make you feel trapped. On the one hand you can’t imagine ever getting past the pain and on the other you can’t imagine going on without him/her.
(Believe it or not, your spouse/partner can also feel resentment too. But that’s a topic for another article.)
Feeling resentment is normal
Being betrayed feels extremely unfair and undeserved. It’s this feeling of the affair being a selfish act that leads to resentment. Why should s/he be able to get away with destroying your relationship, marriage, and/or life – not to mention what it’s done to your children?
According to Dr. Steven Stosny, resentment is a defensive way of devaluing and mentally retaliating against those whom you perceive to be treating you unfairly.
It’s natural to want to get even for the hurt your betrayer has caused. And resentment is a less outwardly aggressive way of trying to get even. It’s also a way to keep yourself stuck in the hurt – so you don’t forget it and take a chance of being hurt like this again and so s/he doesn’t get a chance to forget it either.
To truly heal after an affair, you need to release the resentment.
How to get over resentment after an affair
For most, releasing resentment takes effort and focus. It’s not something that typically happens like flipping a switch, but the more you focus on the following three steps the more completely you’ll be able to let it go.
- Recognize it for what it is
Resentment is a tie to the past. It keeps you stuck and prevents you from fully moving forward with your life.
So every day you feel resentful because of the affair s/he had, you’re stealing the joy you could be experiencing that day from yourself.
- Choose how you want to live your life going forward
If resentment is anchoring you to the past, the best way to help you live more in the present is to choose how you want to be living now and in the future. As the old saying goes, you can’t drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror. You’ve got to look forward and know where you want to take your life.
- Do what you must to move forward
Sometimes it’s easy to know what you need to do to move toward the life you want and sometimes it’s not. The real secret here is to just keep doing what you believe you need to do to get closer to the life you want to live now.
That might mean rebuilding your marriage. It might mean ending your marriage. When you know what you want in your life and continually choose to release the ties to the past that are keeping you stuck, you’ll be able to do what you must to move forward.
Feeling resentment after your spouse/partner has cheated is natural. His/her actions were selfish and unfair to you and your life together. You have a right to be upset
However, getting stuck in resentment means that you’re continuing to use the hurt they inflicted to hurt yourself. Instead of being caught up in the cycle of pain, you can use the three steps outlined above to begin the process of getting over resentment after an affair your spouse had and start truly living your life again.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. I work with individuals struggling with how to get over resentment after an affair. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.