Can a betrayal in a relationship be forgiven?

You can cheat for many reasons, but it is important, if you decide to re-choose your partner and focus on the couple, to do it for real.

What does the word betrayal mean etymologically? It means “to hand over to the enemy,” in a broad sense: “to violate or break a covenant.” You can cheat in many ways in a relationship and each time we break the covenant of trust and mutual love. You cheat when you prefer your job, career, even children or social commitments to your partner. In our mind, however, the betrayal par excellence is that constituted by the extramarital affair, and we know that the discovery of it can cause a huge trauma in a couple. The most frequent emotions are those of immense bewilderment, disorientation, consternation. “I don’t recognize him anymore, he seems to be under a spell,” Maria said about her husband. “I never imagined that she could do this to me!”, Giovanni said about his wife. You feel hurt in confidence and security and that’s the biggest wound. But can betrayal be prevented? Are there any signs of crisis that can be read as premonitory? Literature says that a couple’s behaviour is strongly influenced by various factors, for example which stage the couple is at in its life cycle, the individual and couple dynamics, the value system, the socio-cultural environment in which they live, and sexual dissatisfaction.
The American psychologist David Lusterman has specifically observed how couples can be oriented to betrayal in four ways:

  • Exploratory relationship: in which you test the solidity and desirability of your marital relationship by finding out if you can find better company, better conversation, better sex, or perhaps better cooking elsewhere.
  • Tripod relationship: in which an act of infidelity is used to minimize the fear of excessive psychological intimacy or the fear of being blocked and suffocated within a relationship in which one feels limited.
  • Retaliation relationship: infidelity as a tool to take revenge on the partner from whom you believe you have been wronged.
  • Exit relationship: in which cheating is the launching pad to definitively get rid of a couple relationship that is now considered unbearable!

But once the betrayal comes to light, can it be overcome? If a couple wants to work on the extramarital affair that has overwhelmed them, they must stoke up on a lot of patience and be aware of the size of the job to be done; this cannot be set aside as a “simple incident along the way” but must be dissected so that its meaning is understood, and recurrences are prevented. In the elaboration of betrayal, some authors speak of different levels, like steps to be taken.
Level 1 is choosing your family instead of your lover
. The cheating spouse may choose to go back for a variety of reasons, but this does not necessarily mean that they are giving up on their lover, that is, that they unequivocally choose to end the relationship, either materially or emotionally. In other words, she opts for her family, rather than her spouse. This is a very primitive level of choice and commitment, and it is extremely likely that the extramarital affair will recur or that it will be followed by another. “I chose to stay for the children,” says Marco, “but I keep thinking about that other person and we chat secretly.”
Level 2 is to choose marriage rather than lover. Filippo says: “When I look around, I understand that this is the best choice for me. I will give up my extramarital affair if it is necessary to keep my marriage going. Maybe love isn`t so important”. Even at this level, the likelihood that the extramarital affair will continue, or restart increases as soon as the level of frustration or dissatisfaction in the marital relationship rises.
The 3rd Level is to consciously choose the marital relationship. At this level, each spouse recognizes that  thebasic relationship has many good qualities, and the couple tries to commit to acquiring what they lack (e.g., intimacy, passion). But there may still be the need to maintain contact with the lover, at least mentally, to leave a door open, in case the couple’s goals of improvement are not achieved. Francesca tells me: “I’m done with my colleague and I’m trying to catch up with my husband, but I know that if things don’t work out, I’ll be flattered by my colleague’s attentions again.”
Level 4 is to choose your spouse in his or her entirety. Only then are all the prerequisites for a true and complete commitment in place. Not only does the spouse sincerely want to end the extramarital relationship, but he also intends to keep his promise not to enter a new one. This is how Riccardo concludes a couple’s session: “I deeply regret having betrayed my wife and I want to commit myself completely to have her forgiveness. I can’t erase what happened, but I want to live so that it never happens again.”

Author: Lucia Coco

Source: New City