Witnessing a parent being unfaithful can be deeply traumatic for a child. There can be feelings of betrayal and guilt, and often these feelings can be carried into adulthood, regardless of whether or not the parents reconcile their relationship or go onto divorce. It is likely that issues with trust and trusting manifest and take a toll on long-term committed relationships.
The trauma of witnessing infidelity in your parent’s marriage may have left you with the tendency to project your feelings of blame onto your own spouse or partner. Perhaps you see many of their actions as selfish, perhaps you are suspicious of them without good reason, or perhaps the whole idea of forming a deep attachment fills you with anxiety. You might even recognise that your behaviour is unreasonable and has no foundation in reality, but still feel powerless to stop it.
One catch with these behaviours is, that they may generate emotional damage in themselves: The great trouble with the kinds of behaviour associated with trust issues and anxiety around attachments is that they’re self fulfilling. These issues can often cause you to be jealous and untrusting of your spouse or partner and lead to controlling behaviour, or even punishing behaviour. Actions like withholding affection and shutting down communication are common. As a result of this, you alienate your partner and might even push them further away.
Like so many things, the first step to recreate a secure bond in the marriage is to recognise that a problem is there. Reading this blog is a great indication that you are enquiring into the sources of your dissatisfaction. Once you are aware and acknowledge the underlying feelings, you can begin to move towards healing. Ultimately, you can take ownership of the trauma you faced in your past, and accept that it’s truly in your past. From there, you can allow yourself to experience whatever strong emotions may show up, like jealousy, anxiety, insecurity. They are reflecting on your partner and on your relationship, but they can be dealt with in many more helpful ways.
It’s easy enough to see it written down in a neat paragraph, but making these changes in your own life and your own relationship is often easier said than done. Consider the support of a counsellor to guide you and your partner through the process of rediscovering the trust and happiness in your relationship. We speak with lots of couples struggling with issues surrounding trust, communication and overcoming traumas. Our approach is to help you identify where troubles arise, and overcome challenges together.