Based on your responses, your results show that you’re in

Phase One: Reveal

In this phase of healing, your top priority is finding out the whole truth about the betrayal and what your husband has done.

You’re likely in shock or denial—trying to process how in the world this happened. 

And you’re probably drowning yourself in a ½ gallon of mint chocolate chip (or a bottle of wine), feeling that your life is shattered into tiny bits. 

Sad depressed woman near window with laptop vertically

Your emotions are likely all over the place. One minute you’re lying in the fetal position on the bathroom floor hysterical, feeling powerless, and want your husband to hold you. The next minute, you’re punching pillows in a fit of rage and disbelief—while muttering to yourself how you never want to see him again.

↑ ALL these feelings are 100% normal. You’re not crazy!

When you experience sexual betrayal, it’s like every insecurity you’ve ever had suddenly feels true and like it is on steroids.

You may feel like this is your fault—convinced that if you were 20 pounds thinner, your boobs a DD instead of a B cup, you were more spontaneous and fun—that this wouldn’t have happened.

But, let’s get really clear on one point: This is not your fault!

It’s okay if you don’t believe that yet—but it is true…this is not your fault! 

You don’t deserve this. 

But most importantly: You’ll make it through.

Whether this is your first discovery or not, no matter how hopeless you feel at the moment, there’s healing on the other side.

His betrayal does NOT define you

Right now, though, your only job is to keep breathing and focus on getting to the bottom of the truth about your life and marriage. (FYI: it’s possible to heal even without the whole truth, but if you hope for the marriage to recover, then this phase is crucial.)

The rest can wait. 

No matter what, know that you don’t have to walk this journey alone—and healing is 100% possible. 

At this moment, you may feel like suddenly everything you thought to be true is a lie.

You may be asking yourself…

why

And, guess what…

→ Every wife in your shoes has asked herself the same questions. You’re not alone. 

It doesn’t matter the form of sexual betrayal — whether it was a physical affair, emotional affair, pornography addiction, or any other form of sexual acting out. 

The point is that he betrayed your marriage vows, and the pain is deep and real.

In fact, it’s trauma.

Therefore, it’s important to honor your emotions and allow yourself to grieve. 

The truth of the matter is, no one prepares you for how to heal after betrayal, so you may be wondering what to do. 

Here are a few suggestions of things you can focus on right now (along with several things you shouldn’t do). 

Essential areas of focus in this phase:

01

Breathe.

Sometimes all you can do is breathe. Take one breath, then another, and feed your kids… If you get this done, consider it a success! (Showers are a bonus but not required.)

 Be very gentle with yourself.

02

Truth.

The path to long-term healing begins with the truth.

As I said before, you deserve to know the whole truth about your life and your marriage—even if you get pushback. This is the building block to healing, particularly for the marriage.

03

Help.

Sometimes all you can do is breathe. Take one breath, then another, and feed your kids… If you get this done, consider it a success! (Showers are a bonus but not required.)

 Be very gentle with yourself.

Areas NOT to focus on in this phase:

Forgiveness.

Now is NOT the time to forgive.

How come?

First, you need to know what you are forgiving. Second, you need to have time to grieve. Forgiveness is on the other side of anger, and it should happen over time and not feel rushed. 

Trust.

Sometimes there’s pressure to trust again quickly (as if that will make the pain stop and make everything okay).

However, after sexual betrayal, it’s not a matter of you deciding to trust your husband again—it’s about him acting in a way that proves he’s trustworthy over a long period of time. 

His Emotions.

In order to heal, you have to worry about your emotions first.

Right now, you need to stay focused on your emotions and what you need. If you start shifting and focusing on your husband’s feelings of shame, anger, or sadness, it can pull you out of your emotions and derail your healing process.

Let me let you in on a secret:

Sometimes after sexual betrayal, the relationship that needs the most healing is the relationship with yourself.

You might feel like you can’t trust yourself any longer. Maybe you’re angry with yourself for not realizing what your husband was doing (even if you had a gut feeling that something was wrong).

You could even be upset with yourself that you’ve stayed in the marriage this long—your head and heart sending conflicting messages at every turn…

These three core aspects of healing include:

01

→ Developing your personal circle:

Put your arms out in a circle—this is your personal circle (it represents you).

Inside the circle is everything that makes you, you. This includes your emotions, likes and your dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, personality, dreams, failures, your favorite ice cream…everything.

Your personal circle (1) identifies who you are (2) defines what (and who) you’re responsible for.

This is the first step of healing — to reconnect with — or perhaps discover for the first time — who you are.

Once you have figured out what’s in your circle, the second step of developing your personal circle is to take responsibility for everything in that circle. If there’s an aspect of yourself that you’re neglecting, lean in and nurture it. 

Your job is to love, care for, and own your circle.

The last step of developing your personal circle is to recognize that by defining what’s in your circle, you have also defined what’s not in your circle. 

You see, other than young children, everyone else has their own circle. They are responsible for everything in their circle — their emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, successes, and failures, to name a few. 

Your husband has his own circle, and he is responsible for his actions, emotions, and reactions to you—don’t take on what’s not in your circle.

02

→ Honoring your emotions:

Betrayal unleashes intense emotions.

It’s important to process those emotions so they do not fester inside you and kill your soul. 

When you bury your emotions, you bury them alive. They don’t die. Instead, they hang out and low-grade fester for as long as you choose to ignore them.  

The way to process emotions is by putting all of your thoughts and feelings into words. Get them out! 

If your husband is safe, then express them to him. If he’s not safe, you may need to share them with a counselor or a safe friend.

Time does NOT heal all wounds—healthy processing does. 

vertical photo of a woman walking along a path surrounded by trees
Middle age woman alone in nature in a cold autumn day

03

→ Embracing your worth and value:

You have great worth and value. Your thoughts and feelings are important. 

If you struggle to believe this, get people around you to help you step more fully into those truths. There’s POWER when you embrace your self-worth and trust the truth. 

The truth is that your sheer existence makes you worthy. 

Think of your child, grandchild, or your pet Shih Tzu. Do they have to prove their worth? Is their value based on how they perform or what they look like? 

No! The same is true for you.

You are here for a reason. You have a purpose, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

You don’t have to fight for your worth. You already have it. You just have to accept it. 

Embracing these three core aspects of the healing process is the first step to healing after a betrayal.

“Feeling the pain is the first step toward healing the pain. The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing. We can numb it, ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist, but all those options lead to an eventual breakdown, not a breakthrough.”

Lysa TerKeurst

It’s possible to heal. It’s possible to get to a place where…

AND…

Everyone needs help along the way.

Here are some of my favorite books that might be helpful as you navigate your journey to healing.

“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.”

Unknown

I was able to climb to the top and make my way out of that disgusting,  gaping hole of misery. Tammy promised me that there was a good life ahead, and she was right.

“When my partner unceremoniously destroyed the life I viewed as a fairytale, I found myself alone at the bottom of what felt like a gargantuan shit pit. 

Despite my pleas for help, the one person I always believed would assist me when life turned upside down found the pit that he created too repugnant to even look at. 

Thankfully, my journey led me to Tammy, who willingly jumped right in and stayed with me, holding my hand and encouraging me, until I was able to climb to the top and make my way out of that disgusting, gaping hole of misery. She promised me that there was good life ahead, and she was right.”

Anonymous

Have we met yet? I'm Tammy!

After almost a decade of what I thought was an ideal marriage, the truth about my husband’s sexual integrity issues surfaced in 2015. That began the long, hard fight of healing both my marriage and myself. 

But I made it through—and my marriage also survived. And while there are still scars, our marriage is deeper and more connected than ever.

During my journey, I realized the incredible need for help for women who have gone through betrayal and were searching for a way to find wholeness and healing.

I took my unique experience as a licensed professional counselor, coach, writer, and speaker and found my calling. 

With clarity, empathy, and compassion, I now help women manage the effects of trauma, set healthy boundaries, and discover a life beyond betrayal. 

When I’m not developing a new program or helping coaching clients 1:1, I love to go indoor skydiving, wander the streets of Paris, and go on adventures in the Colorado mountains with my husband and four kids.

Tammy’s expertise and along with her wisdom and life experience, offer a safe place to take the necessary steps towards healing.

“Working with Tammy around betrayal trauma has been a massive part of my healing journey. Tammy has an incredible gift of listening to your needs and where you are in the process. Her expertise and along with her wisdom and life experience, offer a safe place to share and know she cares as she coaches you through invaluable steps towards healing.”

KR

If you want to learn more about how to reclaim your life and rebuild a better future after sexual betrayal, follow me on Instagram @tammylgustafson.

That’s where you’ll see me navigate the sensitivities and healing process of betrayal and help you find joy, beauty, and purpose again in your life.

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