Your feelings around your spouse’s infidelity are natural, understandable, and important. Feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger, shock, rage, and so on are to be expected when one’s partner has been unfaithful. Your feelings around the affair, whatever they might be, are in the room while you’re negotiating. We have to acknowledge and deal with them if the negotiations are to go smoothly. Your feelings are important to you. If we ignore your feelings, you will feel like something vital to you is not being addressed.
At the same time because California is a no-fault state, it is important to remember that it is not the purpose of legal solutions to remedy emotional wrongs. When it comes to spousal support, the law is concerned with questions like: the recipient’s need and the payor’s ability to pay, not whether the recipient deserves support on account of his or her past behavior. That is not to say your feelings about the affair are not important, rather it’s a question of how and where to deal with those feelings.
Our approach to dispute resolution provides you and your spouse a safe place in which you can voice your feelings and feel heard by the other. By addressing your feelings directly, you and your spouse create the possibility of an emotional resolution – whether that is an explanation, an apology, forgiveness, or just being heard. The law something cannot provide a resolution for hurt and painful feelings. Once feelings are addressed, all of the legal, financial, and emotional concerns can fall into place.
Stephen Sulmeyer, PhD, JD is a mediator and psychologist in Marin County and San Francisco. More information in his bio on the “Find A Professional” page.