Almost everyone has heard of the five stages of grief. These are the usual steps in the scattered time line of true grief.

The five stages do not always occur in the same order, and sometimes the different stages are revisited throughout the grieving process.

They exist because, as humans, we are emotional beings and need a way to process trauma.

These five stages of grief can also apply to the struggles and emotions that one goes through after infidelity. When a relationship is torn apart by something that seems as senseless as an affair, your logic and emotions are all put through what is basically a trauma.

Although no one has died, it may feel like it because your marriage and your chosen spouse are often the one thing that you are supposed to be able to count on.

Here are the five stages of grief and how they apply to infidelity:

1) Denial

What It Is: Denial is often one of the very first stages of grief that anyone goes through. You automatically do not want to believe that what occurred has truly happened, and so you isolate yourself from the reality of the situation.

Denial is really like an automatic defense mechanism to soften the shocking blow of reality. This stage of grief is not sustainable, and therefore usually does not last long before reality sets in.

How It Applies To Infidelity: You feel denial because you just do not want to believe that what is happening to you and your relationship is truly happening.

Your brain and emotions cannot yet process that the unthinkable has happened, and it is easier to shake it away and tell yourself that it isn't true, that a mistake has been made.

So your brain switches on its automatic defense mechanism and softens the blow of the horrible news, so you can more easily come to terms with the betrayal.

2) Anger

What It Is: Anger is the most common and often long lived of the stages of grief. As your denial of the situation fades away, the pain and anguish set in, and anger is often the easiest emotion to handle.

Anger is often aimed at people, objects, or situations that may or may not be to blame, they just happen to be in the way at the time. Anger can last a long time, and it can return later in the grieving process.

How It Applies To Infidelity: As the pain and reality of your situation sets in, spouses sometimes feel the need to lash out. Victims of infidelity often blame the other man or woman, unconsciously choosing to put less blame on the spouse themselves.

Usually because it is easier to think of the other person being at fault than the one you love and who is sworn to love you.

In the heat of the moment, the anger can present itself almost violently, causing the other person to lash out with harsh words they don't mean or even physically.

Sometimes, even after the majority of the anger has passed and you are dealing with the stress in as healthy a way possible, anger will flare up again.

3) Bargaining

What It Is: The bargaining stage of grief points to the very human need to solve the puzzle you have been dealt with. This occurs because you are feeling helpless and want to find answers, no matter how unlikely those answers actually are.

How It Applies To Infidelity: In the bargaining stage of grief, spouses will find themselves blaming other people or themselves.

There is also a constant barrage of “what if” scenarios that filter uselessly through your mind- What if I worked out more? What if I wore makeup more often? What if I dressed like she does? What if his mother didn't coddle him? What if I was honest about how I felt about her coworker?

Of course, these thoughts never lead to anywhere and many questions like these can actually be quite detrimental. It is all a part of the grieving process, however, and grieving the aftermath of a torn marriage is tough business.

4) Depression

What It Is: In the depression stage of grief, the person suffering feels an overwhelming case of helplessness and hopelessness.

After searching through endless “what ifs” and trying to come up with solutions in the bargaining stage, you finally just give up. There are multiple forms of the depression stage of grief, depending on your reaction.

Some people internalize their feelings and separate themselves from others, needing time alone to process their grief. Others externalize those feelings, focusing on things they can worry about on the outside of their own feelings.

How It Applies To Infidelity: Depression absolutely applies to situations of infidelity, and people all react differently to the clutches of sadness and overwhelming hopelessness.

There are those who tend to give up for a while, distancing themselves from others so they can focus on their own pain. Others tend to project their pain outwards, manifesting their depression by obsessing or retaliating against their spouse.

In the middle of those reactions there are people who choose to focus on tangible issues, such as focusing on how the children are getting home from school and setting appointments for counseling.

5) Acceptance

What It Is: Acceptance is the final stage of grief, where you finally are able to come to terms with the situation at hand. It can take a very long time to reach acceptance, and in fact, not everyone is able to make it past the other stages to find acceptance.

How It Applies To Infidelity: In cases of infidelity, acceptance can come in many forms. Overall, it is realizing the reality of the affair and accepting that it has happened and there is no going back.

Acceptance is also about moving on, however. Some can find it in themselves to forgive and move past the infidelity.

The five stages of grief usually apply to death, loss, and other trauma. Infidelity is definitely a trauma that changes your life entirely and affects the very foundation of how you live your life.

It has the potential to rip you apart if you let it, and it can change everything, not just your relationship. Getting through the stages of grief will be difficult, but hopefully with time and the right support, you will find yourself on the other side of acceptance and healing.

Author's Bio: 

C Mellie Smith specializes in providing helpful resources to couples torn apart by infidelity. If you feel your marriage is worth saving then visit and get the help you need to move forward.