Whether your marriage has been gloriously healed after infidelity, or there has been a divorce, the victim of this type of betrayal suffers greatly. I should know. I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I suspected some “goings on” in my marriage. I felt violated, betrayed, and sick to my stomach. Especially because it was with someone that I had been mentoring. Although my husband and I worked through that instance, the same gnawing feeling came back eight years later, and shortly after, two women from church begged my forgiveness because they had each had “encounters” with my husband.
The ground tilted and I was sliding downhill fast. Was I that terrible of a wife? How could this happen to me, not once, but several times? Even though the marriage ended in divorce, I had to work through these feelings so that I could trust that there were people who were faithful to both their spouses and to God. This was where I really struggled. Even if I were tempted to be unfaithful to my husband, I feared God too much to act or even dwell on it. I couldn’t understand how someone identifying themselves as a Christ follower could entertain this behavior. These series of betrayals made me not only feel alone as a wife, but also as a Christian.
Here are a few thoughts that helped me through that dark time:
I had the privilege of growing up in a beautiful Christ-centered family with parents who adored one another. They grew more in love as the years went on. It was marvelous to behold. But not everyone has this as a foundation for their own family, and though God’s grace and His Word provides all that we need to create a life pleasing to him, the experiences of others may make victory in this area more difficult than mine. After all, I had a good marriage modeled and played out right before my eyes, while others are starting from scratch. I chose to have compassion and mercy for those who grew up in a different home environment than my own. My mother and I have a saying, “They haven’t read the same books we have” which just translates to: this person’s experience is so different from mine that their perspective is different. Although we are talking about much more than perspective in the transgression of infidelity, our experiences do make a difference in the victories we enjoy.
Because I felt that so many were involved in my own personal case, I began to mistrust everyone. I wondered which friend or coworker would next make me feel like a fool by living in deceit with me. I lived in suspicion. I started to even question whether my own growing up home life was as secure as it seemed. I was sure that I had found evidence that one or both of my parents had wandered (which was untrue). Although we all struggle with different temptations, not everyone is going to the extremes that these people were to live a double life in order to hide their sin. Living in suspicion is not God’s best. It steals joy and is exhausting work. I found that I was living in bondage because I felt that I needed to test everyone before giving them a piece of my heart. Scripture says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 Realizing that not everyone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes was a huge part of my recovery and freedom process.
My situation had not only broken my trust with my husband, but with humanity in general. This was especially true of men. I had decided that they just didn’t make men like my father anymore and that all men were out to get one thing, as often as they could, regardless of who they hurt in the meantime. However, I knew that I could trust Jesus. He was a man who had been tempted and yet didn’t sin. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” Hebrews 4:15. That means that although I can’t put my trust in others, I can put my trust in him. He will never let me down, even though others will.
A believer’s decision to remain faithful to their spouse is based on their relationship with God. There are definitely things that husbands and wives can do to exacerbate a bad situation, but ultimately this is a sin against God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). If David in his adultery and murder of Bathsheba's husband had ultimately sinned against God, then maybe I shouldn’t take it so personally. Many spouses who commit adultery still love their husband/wife deeply. In our case, my husband called me years after our divorce and asked for forgiveness, admitting to me that he had a sex addiction that he hadn’t know how to work through. He often blamed me because I didn’t want to have sex multiple times a day. He made me feel not enough and inadequate and weird. As a young and inexperienced woman, I took on his words as a cloak of guilt, blaming myself for his wandering eye. I didn’t recognize a man who was tormented by an insatiable lust, rather than an expression of love.
I love to hear stories about marriages who have successfully weathered the storm of infidelity, but that was not the end of the story in my case. However, I found that there was still much healing to take place in my heart. You can learn to love and live free again when you offer your heart to God. Your path toward healing may not look exactly like mine, but he knows you better than you know yourself and will heal your heart to be more beautiful than new.