Is there anything worse? Is there anything more hurtful and horrible than finding out that your beloved has been cheating on you? That terrible feeling of having your guts ripped out when you discover the worst? It may be worse to find out that someone you love is dying, but I would say that the discovery of cheating is even more horrible than that. When someone is sick or dying it’s awful and terrible, but you don’t have the same sense of betrayal, the same sense of your entire world falling apart, you aren’t hurt to your core.
At the root is the betrayal and the dishonesty. This person that you thought you knew. This person that you trusted with your heart. This person that you trusted with your life. This person that you loved and who you believed loved you.
And then the questions start and you’re obsessively thinking the same things over and over again: how did this happen? When did it start? Could I have done something to prevent this? Has it happened before? And the worst part is, you can’t rely on answers from your partner, because you’ve realized in one fell swoop how dishonest they are. Dishonest to the core.
The dishonesty and the betrayal are the worst part. They’re telling you to your face “I love you”, but behind your back they’re betraying you and everything in your life. When we’re in a marriage or a relationship we want to believe we can trust this person with our hearts, with our lives, with our children, with our well being, with every aspect of our lives. Now, suddenly, all of that is called into question. How can I ever rely on this person again?
And with all the questions that won’t stop, you suddenly start to remember things. Times when you didn’t know where they were. Times when their answers to your questions didn’t add up, but you didn’t say anything for fear of rocking the boat. As Nora Ephron writes in her wonderful book “Heartburn”, it’s like a distant bell that’s ringing that you can’t quite hear, but you know it’s there.
Heartburn is a roman a’ clef based on Nora Ephron’s real life story of when she was married to Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter who exposed the Watergate scandal (along with Bob Woodward) in All the President’s Men. While they were married (and while she was pregnant with their second child), he began an affair that would end up destroying their marriage. At the time, Nora Ephron was the Food Editor of the New York Post and the book combines her wrenching story along with recipes (!), including the recipe for the key lime pie she smashes into his face when she discovers all the lies and deceit. The book was made into a movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, directed by Mike Nichols. I just watched it again recently and it’s fantastic and, of course, heartbreaking. She went on to re-marry and wrote and directed such films as When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Her personal story has a happy ending, but not without a lot of heartache and pain from this betrayal.
Integrity is a word that nobody talks about much anymore and it feels like it’s something that no one values anymore. Our media is so full of casual sex, celebrities who are famous for doing nothing (Kim Kardashian, I’m talking to you) and the celebration of everything that is meaningless — money, fame, jet setting, svelte bodies and walking the red carpet. I believe that integrity is the cornerstone of everything that is meaningful in our lives. Integrity in our words and in our actions with everyone with whom we come into contact, but most especially in our close relationships.
In my own life, I’ve worked with couples for over 30 years, first as a divorce attorney and now with Sedona Soul Adventures. And sadly, so many couples come to us who are struggling with the issue of cheating. I have to believe that if people were shown a video of what’s going to happen, of the devastation that this will cause, how nothing will ever be the same again, that they would choose not to do it. That the excitement of the moment wouldn’t be enough to justify the emotional and spiritual havoc this will wreak. I like to think that, that thought makes me feel better, but I think I might be woefully naive about it.
Right after I got home from Egypt a few weeks ago, one of our amazing practitioners (Sequoia) contacted me by email and told me he wanted to add a new session. Sequoia told me that in all the work he’s been doing with men on our retreats he’s finding that most men simply don’t know how to be in integrity. They’ve never been taught. Sequoia is a very wise man and guys, I hate to single you out, but I’m afraid it’s true. Something has happened somewhere along the line and I don’t know exactly what’s caused it. And please understand, I’m not saying that women don’t cheat, they do, and we have lots of couples who come to us where that’s the situation. But what I’ve found is that once it comes out into the open, women understand that they have lied and been dishonest and they’re willing to deal with it. The problem we keep seeing is that there are so many men who don’t realize that what they’re doing is dishonest and out of integrity.
So Sequoia has now added a new session he’s calling “Stepping Into Integrity”, which involves hiking in the beautiful red rocks and talking and sharing. When I discussed this with our other practitioners who focus on couples work, their response was unanimous, because they’ve all seen this. As one of them (another man) wrote to me, “we need this process of talking and sharing and helping men release the guilt and shame and step into their truth so they can better sit with their partner’s anger, hurt and pain. To help men step back into integrity and heal from the self inflicted wounds that come from being dishonest.”
When you can talk about it, when you can let everything out into the open, you can heal. It’s difficult, it’s hard, but the healing can happen. We’ve seen it over and over again here in our retreats. There’s healing that has to happen for each person individually and then there’s the coming together and the start of re-building the trust and learning how to communicate with each other on a heart level. It’s sort of miraculous when two people can come back into a place of love and trust with each other after so much heartache and pain.
I must say, it still amazes me what can happen here. People who come on the brink of divorce and then turn it around. One couple who came last year and re-built their relationship are coming back again next week to celebrate and re-invigorate their healing and as they said, to “to take our love to a new level”. I can’t wait to see them again, it makes my heart happy.
If this issue has been haunting you, I first want to say I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for your pain and hurt and anguish. But I also want to tell you that there’s hope. I know. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the healing take place and people come out the other end. We’re all human. We all make mistakes, and sometimes the mistakes are more vicious and horrendous than we think we can bear. But you can bear it, you can make it through it.
And what if your partner won’t participate (which sometimes happens). Maybe it’s time for you to start the healing process on your own. We’ve actually had many times where one person does a retreat and it moves everything around and then both come back for a couples retreat.
Jim and Kate say “If you had told me that the connection between my partner and myself could be this deep and spiritual, I would have said it couldn’t be done.”
“Sedona Soul Adventures completely surpassed our expectations. If you had told me that the connection between my partner and myself could be this deep and spiritual, I would have said it couldn’t be done. The depth of our relationship now is far beyond anything we expected. We also have the skills to keep that bond, and keep working on our individual journeys. Sedona Soul Adventures has changed our lives, forever! Thank you from the bottom of our heart.”
Jim & Kate
Download a free copy of our “Sedona Guide to Couples Retreats”. It will answer so many questions and give you a taste of what you can expect. It can start the beginning of your healing process. Click here to download the report.
We’re all in this together. I urge you to call us, we can help. Call and speak to one of our Angel Guides and I promise you, that at the end of that call you will start to feel the glimmers of some hope. They will talk to you and to your partner, separately. They’ll figure out what each of you need to jumpstart the healing process and they’ll put together the perfect retreat that’s designed exactly for you and the healing you need.
Click here and one of our Angel Guides will call you. Or if you’d prefer, call us toll free at 1-877-204-3664 (US and Canada). For our friends outside the US and Canada call 01 928-204-5988 or click here and one of our Angel Guides will call you. It’s the first step toward feeling better.
Wishing you a week filled with healing and hope,
Debra Stangl, Founder