The TV stories about the celebrity relationships ending due to
betrayal are quite frequent these days. Many people also have family members or friends who share their devastation and pain relating to infidelity or deceit in their relationships. Other than the obvious: infidelity, sex addiction, physical
and emotional abuse, there are many other betrayal areas that may also play out in a marriage. According to Dr. John Gottman, there are some main areas of betrayal that may play out in relationships that can be devastating to the
1. Conditional Commitment- This is the kind of relationship where everything is “well” until the next best thing comes around. It is a shallow relationship where either one, or both, people are not truly invested in
deepening the commitment. Deep issues are not discussed. This may be the couple who married because they felt pressured or felt like they “should” instead of wanting to.
2. A Nonsexual Affair/ Emotional Affair- The marriage may be in trouble when there is a “work wife” or “work husband” involved. This work confidant is someone outside of the marriage who has been told a lot of private information about the marriage and is described as “just a friend” from work. Having close friends is fine, but if intimate information is shared that may make the other spouse uncomfortable should they know, the line may be crossed from a friendship onto the side of a nonsexual/emotional affair.
3. Lying-Some couples may lie to each other as an attempt to avoid tension and conflict in the relationship. As a result, there is a breach of trust. Secrets keeping is harmful to the relationship, but it can be worked through, unless one person is a chronic liar. Chronic lying is a pattern established in childhood and that pattern may have additional challenges to be worked through. Regardless, lies and secret keeping in marriage is destructive.
4. Forming a Coalition Against the Partner- This is the “ganging up” tactic used against one spouse. Maybe it is the husband who gangs up on this wife by having his mother as his ally, or it is the wife who colludes with her mother to gang up on the husband. Either way, it is destructive to the marriage. Boundaries need to be established around how much is shared with others who may interfere in the relationship.
Dr. John Gottman also identifies several other betrayal areas in marriage, such as: coldness, withdrawal of sexual interest, and disrespect. This list is not all inclusive and there are many other areas to explore. If you
identify with an area, it does not mean that your marriage is doomed. It simply means that there are areas of concern that you need to work on in order to make the marriage stronger.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, NCC, SRT, therapist at McKinney Counseling and Recovery, specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from sex addiction, infidelity, intimacy anorexia, and intimacy deprivation. McKinney Counseling & Recovery serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist