How Do You Feel As The Betrayed Spouse?
This is one of the worst hurts you could experience in life. It is a death – the death of trust, the death of your fairytale dream, the death of honesty, and the death of respect for the person you had so admired. God understands how painful and permanent this experience can be to us in that He allows for divorce. (He actually describes Himself as the betrayed spouse also when it comes to His relationship with us!) This is a game-changer, a marriage-changer, and a life-changer so it can’t or shouldn’t be taken lightly. It can’t be reversed or removed but it can be repaired. It can’t be forgotten but it can be forgiven. It would be wise for each of you to read about all the other types of emotions felt by people who have experienced all the other sexual hurts mentioned on this website because you’ll find yourself or your spouse in these sections. Grief, anger, shame, humiliation, degradation – all these are mentioned here. How you feel and how you heal will ultimately depend on whether your spouse wants to truly end the affair or end the marriage - which will be proven through their daily actions over a long period of time.
GRIEVE YOUR LOSS. You feel like you’ve lost your past and your future when your spouse cheats on you. When dreams are shattered, it’s not easy to forget. You just don’t get over it, quickly. It is okay to grieve and weep over it. At any given moment, you might feel the urge to cry and curl up into a fetal position. Everybody processes grief differently so give yourself some grace as to how you’ll handle this tragedy. You might be frozen in depression, you might get busier with work or you might want to quit everything. You might have no energy or enthusiasm for anything, anymore. Sometimes the pain is that debilitating and depressing. It’s a pain you’ve never felt before and you really don’t know what to do with this grief. You’ve lost your ability to trust the one and only person that you really knew you could trust in this life. Your emotions will run wild and so will your imagination and actions. You’ll be quite unpredictable now.
VENT YOUR ANGER. You may want to hang the person from the same high pedestal you once put them! You can’t believe that this has happened to you when you tried so hard and took your vows so seriously. You can’t believe that your spouse would do something so hurtful to you and to your family you created. You’ll want to lash out at anything or anyone connected with the affair or the indiscretion. You’ve been wronged and your first reaction is revenge. Before, you couldn’t stand to be without them and now, you can’t stand to be with them. Your life has been turned upside down and you want someone to pay for it. When we’ve been wronged and treated unjustly, our first reaction is revenge and unleashing of wrath. You might have even contemplated revenge sex with someone else to make your partner feel the pain. You’ve probably never dealt with anger this intense in your life so it would be good to ask God for some help on this one. You’ve been wronged and your first reaction is revenge. Revenge sex is not an option. Your emotions will run wild and so will your words. God has given us practical help on how to handle that anger: don’t blow up or clam up - but speak up. He wants us to speak the truth in love. Anger is designed to be the energy that will solve the problem and not dissolve the problem maker, even though you want to do the latter. What are some words that will help you stop hurting and start healing here?
ASK YOUR QUESTIONS. You need answers to all your questions you come up with in the healing process. You want the truth and no more lies. You need details, data, descriptions and dates. You need to know. All your questions will not come at once; you’ll be thinking up new ones daily as time goes on. It’s okay. You might want passwords to everything that relates to their computer, cell phone, tablet, or emails. Bank account statements, debit card purchases, social media passwords, and detailed cell phone usage! You’re not asking too much to want to know where your spouse is during any given moment of any given day. Your heart and your head need to know stuff like this if you’re going to heal. You may want access to everything now to see if your spouse really is repentant or not about this affair. Yes, your heart will still sink when you hear their phone/text ring and it will take God’s grace to cope. Transparency, integrity and honesty have to be earned all over again and that will take some time now. How much?
TAKE YOUR TIME. Since your emotions and imaginations are running wild now, we don’t know how long it will take for life to have some normalcy, regiment, and routine again. You and your spouse don’t know how long you’ll be in a fog, forgetful, cold, lifeless, numb, shocked, angry, hurt, suspicious, or depressed. To ease the pain, you might direct all your energy into your children or job but then again, you might give up on doing any of that. You might not be able to focus, sleep or eat - which will make your emotional mood swings to be even more unpredictable since they can be triggered by the smallest of things to bring back the original pain. You may want to make wild love to your spouse and then want to punch them right in the middle of it. Triggers can remain for a lifetime and can be reactivated at any given moment to remind you of things you’d rather forget. It takes time to get through and beyond this. Yes, forgiveness must come sooner or later if the marriage is to survive but it’s not to be instantly expected or demanded. However, it it’s been a very long time and your spouse has done everything right to show their remorse and repair the marriage but you still harbor bitterness, then maybe it’s time to ask God to give you the forgiving spirit that you will need if you’re going to make the marriage work.
How Do You Heal Your Betrayed Spouse?
PRESENCE AND PATIENCE. Remember that you are the cause of their problem AND that you are their only hope of solution! You caused the pain but only you can bring the healing. I know - no one likes to be around the person they have hurt and literally hear them groan or vent with such deep anguish or ache. However, you’ve got to be there around your spouse whom you’ve hurt. Again, you’re the only person who can fix this. Don’t abandon them when they need you most, even though they may want you to leave or even die. But it’s not about you anymore; it’s ALL about them and their needs. Don’t get mad at anything they say or do right now since their grief and anger are beyond mere words. It’s not your place to give orders to them right now. You are their servant now. Don’t get defensive or aggressive when they do. Provide as few or as many details as your spouse may want to know at any given moment. Now is not the time for you to pout or react, be alone or go out, sulk or drink. You may want to hug your spouse but they might turn you away. Don’t take it personal - but then again, do take it very personal since it’s aimed at you who caused them such pain. May you never forget this pain expressed! You both will be on a roller coaster. Don’t be surprised or upset if they want to talk about it years later, out of the blue. It’s how they heal. Ask God to give you a humble heart and to keep it humble the rest of your life.
REGRET AND REPAIR. If you’ve never been that expressive or very verbal about your feelings or emotions, now is the time for you to start! They need to see you change and hear you talk. You play a huge part in how long it takes to heal. There can be no trickling of the truth and no eventual disclosure. All should be shared in raw reality. Prove your true repentance by keeping no secrets, social media conversations, cell phone passwords, bank accounts or activities from your spouse. To your spouse, it wasn’t just about the sex but it was mostly about the secrets, lies and loss of trust and respect. That’s crucial. Profusely apologize - but not about how you feel but about how you made them feel. You can talk about how ashamed and disappointed you are in yourself but mostly remember how ashamed, degraded, inadequate and insecure they feel as a result of what you’ve done. Verbalize their hurt, not yours. Again, it’s not about you right now. Get rid of anything and everything that reminds you (or your partner) of the other person. Jesus said that you can only serve one master. Your spouse is your full time master, especially now. You are there to serve and not to be served. Reassure them how much you want your future to be with them and not with anyone else. Remind them of past memories and recommit to even better ones. You get to create brand new memories of fighting for your spouse, not with your spouse!
GRATITUDE AND GRACE. Love really is better than lust and you’re about to learn one of the best lessons in all of life. God is able and willing to show you how much you need Him in your life and marriage so you can show your spouse this kind of unconditional love for the rest of your lives together. It is not easy. You’ve been given another chance, possibly. Let your spouse know how much you appreciate that. God is your accountability partner; you are aware that HE is watching when your spouse is not. Possibly you think that you will never forgive yourself? Ask God to show you. The goal is self-examination and not self-deprecation. God wants to give you life while the evil one wants to steal your joy. Be mindful of that. Both of you are going to need God like never before in your life to get through this. Ask Him to create in you a clean heart with integrity and humility along with wisdom like none other can give.
It can’t be forgotten but it can be forgiven.
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