By Candice Christiansen, LCMHC, CSAT-S
Founder, Global Change Agent, Intimacy Expert

Partners who have experienced intimate betrayal as a result of their spouse's infidelity, addiction (substance abuse, sex, porn addiction, financial betrayal), narcissistic abuse, sex offending)tend to exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder including:

  • Reliving the event

  • Flashbacks 

  • Triggers

  • Nightmares

  • Panic attacks

  • Depression

  • Negative Beliefs

  • Hyperarousal

Trauma that results from these various betrayals can have lasting effects and at times, the spouse may not know how to cope with their own sense of guilt and shame and the trauma they have caused their partner.

A lot of times, because the spouse who has caused the betrayal struggles to understand their partner's trauma they may react (or over react) in negative ways by saying things such as, "It's been several months, can't you just trust me?" Or, "Why is this still an issue. I haven't .....in a while." Or, "I don't feel like I should have to share information with you about my treatment, phone, etc." This tends to exacerbate the partner's trauma. 

It is crucial that the spouse, while learning how to attune to their own discomfort and work on their own recovery, also gains an understanding of their partner's trauma. One assignment we have our clients do that assists the spouse in gaining insight into their partner's experience includes The 3-Circle Plan related to the interactions with the spouse. For instance:

  • The inner circle defines the specific unhealthy interactions that the spouse has engaged in with their partner

  • The middle circle entails situations, feelings, times of day, people that have high risk of leading the spouse to inner circle interactions with their partner

  • The outer circle entails specific healthy ways of interacting with one's spouse

By doing this assignment, adding to it as needed and processing with one's primary therapist and group, the spouse can learn the types of interactions that are unhealthy as well as the interactions that begin to create trust and healing in their  relationship. This is indeed a process and one assignment of many that we have clients do in our sexual recovery program. 

For more information about our sexual recovery program, check out https://www.namasteadvice.com/services/ Start your recovery today.