One of the emotions that the wounded partner commonly feels following the discovery of cyber infidelity is anger. While there is a range of emotions commonly experienced, anger can be one of the most challenging. Lashing out verbally and venting feelings of rage toward the offending partner is both common and even necessary. Suppressing this feeling in an effort to be overly restrained can lead to a form of denial that interferes with healing.
While the experience of and the expression of anger is both healthy and necessary, when it crosses the line toward vindictive behavior it can be destructive. It can be harmful to the well-being of the wounded partner and damaging to the healing process for the relationship. The vindictive behavior often takes the form of threats such as threatening to tell people at the job of the offending partner. Sometimes threats to tell friends, family members, and particularly children of the couple are made. These threats only serve to create more distance, distrust and alienation. So the take away message for the wounded partner attempting to recover from cyber infidelity, when it comes to anger, is express it, vent it and know that you are entitled to feel it. If, however, your behavior crosses the line toward vindictiveness, work on your self control so as not to make the situation worse. Facilitate recovery by the appropriate feeling and expression of anger, but don’t damage it with vindictive behaviors.
How should I react to my partner’s anger?
It is very important for the offending partner to demonstrate genuine tolerance, acceptance, and understanding of the anger that their partner expresses. People that respond with impatience, self-serving upset, or intolerance to the partner’s anger invalidate the feeling. This serves to hurt the wounded partner further and contributes to the feeling of rage. The invalidation tends to be received by the wounded partner as a statement that “he doesn’t get it.” It increases the feeling of vulnerability on the part of the wounded partner and impedes the healing process.
It is very important to validate the anger of the wounded partner. Supportive statements such as, “You have a right to be angry. If I were in your place I would be angry too,” are helpful. If the wounded partner’s rage goes over the line toward vindictive behaviors that might include a variety of threats to expose the cyber infidelity to friends, family members, children or the offending partner’s job, then a different sort of response is needed. It is recommended that the offending partner just listen to what is being said. Once the rageful partner begins to calm down, again reaffirming and validating the anger is important. This, however, can be followed by a statement emphasizing that vindictive behaviors, while understandable, are ultimately destructive for everyone involved and hurtful to recovery and reconciliation.