Title

The Betrayed Partner’s Experiences with Grief and Loss Following the Discovery of an Extramarital Affair

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2014

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Lisa Kiesel

Abstract

Betrayed partners experience a great amount of changes, losses, and grief following the discovery of an extramarital affair. The following study examines the stories of two women and four men from various areas across the United States who were the betrayed partner in a marriage that experienced extramarital affairs. A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews were conducted to obtain information to answer the following research question: What are the betrayed partner’s experiences with grief and loss following the discovery of an extramarital affair within their marriage? Several themes arose from the findings including: 1) immediate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors such as shock, confusion, anger, and disbelief, 2) wanting to fix the relationship using counseling and salvaging the relationship, 3) life alterations caused by the affair including increase in self-esteem, not wanting to marry again, having to continue interactions with the betrayer, learning that not everyone is untrustworthy, emotional instability, and legal action, 4) grief and loss including loss of the relationship, divorce, shared custody of the children, loss of their partner’s family, loss of friends, shattered dreams and expectations, physical and emotional losses, loss of trust, adjusting to being primary custody provider, and financial hardships. Participants identified several coping strategies such as: family, religion, friends, individual counseling, reading books, granting forgiveness, and attending support groups. This study provides a broad look at the losses and grief, which are often times overlooked aspects of infidelity.

Keywords

extramarital affair, infidelity, grief, loss

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.