Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder: The Six Stages of Healing by Dennis OrtmanHave you been traumatized by infidelity?
The phrase broken heart belies the real trauma behind the all-too-common occurrence of infidelity. Psychologist Dennis Ortman likens the psychological aftermath of sexual betrayal to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in its origin and symptoms, including anxiety, irritability, rage, emotional numbing, and flashbacks. Using PTSD treatment as a model, Dr. Ortman will show you, step by step, how to:
• work through conflicting emotions
• Understand yourself and your partner
• Make important life decisions
Dr. Ortman sees recovery as a spiritual journey and draws on the wisdom of diverse faiths, from Christianity to Buddhism. He also offers exercises to deepen recovery, such as guided meditations and journaling, and explores heart-wrenchingly familiar case studies of couples struggling with monogamy. By the end of this book, you will have completed the six stages of healing and emerged with a whole heart, a full spirit, and the freedom to love again.
PTSD Warning Signs
Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder: The Six Stages of Healing
Working through an affair is tough. It takes tremendous energy and vulnerability on both sides. The effectiveness of this model is being studied in a randomized clinical trial. Trust is an obvious issue, and is vital to regain. But if both partners are committed to reconciling the marriage, or at least to try, then seeing a couples therapist together is most helpful.
Nearly every person who experiences the trauma of sexual betrayal goes through a period of wanting to ask the betrayer a long list of questions about where, when, and how the betrayal took place. This need to ask question after question can leave you, the betrayed partner, feeling out of control, emotionally unstable, and just plain furious. And this can shut down your partner and deter positive progress you both may have made in the healing process. If you previously prided yourself on your emotional stability, this out-of-control questioning can be further traumatizing to you. As can the answers you get from your loved one. So many clients ask me why they ask these painful questions.
What hurts committed partners the most is that their trust and belief in the person closest to them has been shattered. Today, family counselors and psychotherapists are slowly gaining insight into the traumatic, long-term emotional effects of betrayal of a closely attached partner. As part of this professional growth, those specialists who deal day-in and day-out with marital infidelity and relationship betrayal have become much more open to spotting and treating the oftentimes fragile, rollercoaster emotional state of cheated-on spouses — both male and female. The trauma evoked by profound relationship betrayal typically manifests in one or more of the following ways:. In part, the trauma of infidelity stems from the fact that while the cheater has obviously known about his or her extracurricular sexual behavior all along and may actually feel some relief once the truth is on the table, a betrayed partner is all too often blindsided by this information.
How would you react if you found out that your spouse was cheating on you? No doubt it would be a severe shock and you would find yourself filled with anger, surprise, sorrow and all kinds of other emotions. In fact, research shows that the effect of discovering infidelity is so severe it can be likened to recovering from a life-threatening traumatic event. A guy called Dennis Ortman literally wrote the book on this in However, this is definitely something I have observed and it is very real [i]. So Ortman noticed that many of his clients who had experienced infidelity within their marriage showed similar patterns of stress in response to the betrayal.
Imagine with me, typing in the name of your beloved spouse, whom you trust whole-heartedly, only to find that he is a member of Ashley Madison and you had no idea, or even the hint of an idea, about his secret. And this actually just happened to over 30 million couples, and families. Yes, it was a deserved slap in the face to millions of cheaters and liars. But the consequences of these newly exposed secrets trail a wake far beyond the cheater him or herself, stretching into the lives of spouses and children. Discovering that a spouse has been unfaithful is a legitimized traumatic event.