In order to deal effectively with your emotions, you must acknowledge and honor them. Your feelings are legitimate; don’t let your partner or other people discount them. Our feelings are designed to alert us to opportunities and problems. When you’ve been betrayed, use your feelings to identify the expectations your partner violated. Take that emotional energy and focus on the specific ways you want to be treated in your relationship. Using your emotions this way will help you work through the betrayal you encountered while avoiding damage to yourself and your relationship.

In the second half of this book, we provide detailed advice on how to best use your emotions rather than letting your emotions get the best of you.

Focus on the Big Picture. When you’ve been betrayed, it’s wise to take a moment to reflect on the big picture. What’s your ultimate goal? Do you want your partner to acknowledge the pain they’ve caused? Do you want to know what truly happened? Do you want to try to work toward some type of resolution? When people don’t focus on their goals, it’s easy to let their immediate emotional concerns get in the way—like trying to punish a partner or make them suffer. Acting on such immediate feelings often makes it more difficult to accomplish your larger objectives.

For example, when Maria discovered George had been cheating on her, she didn’t consider what she hoped to accomplish. Rather than think about what she wanted from George, she acted on her impulses and yelled and screamed at George for hours on end. When people don’t reflect on the big picture and what they ultimately hope to achieve, their actions lack focus and can lead to unwanted outcomes. Did Maria want to chew George out? Vent her anger? Get her husband to apologize? When people don’t have a clear goal in mind, it’s nearly impossible to arrive at a satisfying outcome.