Over the last two weeks I’ve reported on the spiritual growth that many of our Spiritual Crisis survey respondents experienced. This growth came, for most of these women, after a crisis of faith initiated by discovery of their husband’s betrayal of them.
I’ve also shared some of my own story of getting to know God better as a result of my betrayal trauma and crisis. However, I haven’t talked much about what the practical results have been of that growth. This is a topic that should be of keen interest to betrayed wives/wives of sex addicts, because I believe it’s key, first to our survival, then our healing and finally, our maturing and overcoming.
92% of the nearly 700 respondents to the 2014/2015 Survey of Wives of Sex Addicts reported experiencing depression due to their husband’s addiction/betrayal. Over a third of the respondents also struggled with suicidal thoughts.
There are women who do not survive their husband’s betrayal. There are many, many of us who come to the brink of death. In Beyond Betrayal (the book) I tell my story of being pulled back from the edge by God. I also relate other women’s similar stories. When we get to the point where we feel we cannot possibly go on – God is right there and often actively reaches out to us.
When asked what helped her overcome her suicidal ideation, one survey respondent stated: “The love I have for my children, parents, my sister, and niece…. And the faith that God will never let me go. He will be faithful to the end.”
Understanding the nature of God – his faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, compassion – can make all the difference in our darkest hour.
Many of us struggle to believe God could love us. We know we’re not perfect. We know we’ve bungled it in our pain and anger. We have regrets about how we’ve handled our husband’s addiction, and with those regrets… shame.
One of goals I had for Beyond Betrayal (the book and the community) was to show women how, despite what they may have read, most betrayed spouses aren’t on the verge of being nominated for sainthood. We’ve struck out in our anger, taken revenge (or thought about it), masked our pain with substances or addictive behaviours and just generally flailed about in ways that range from dumb to sinful. That is actually the common experience of the betrayed wife. 70% of respondents to the 2014/2015 said they had done something they regretted influenced by their husband’s betrayal. Of the remaining 30%, many declined to answer the question.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
But there’s an incredible Good News story here. We’ve all messed up, and God loves us anyway. Understanding how compassionate he is, how tenderhearted and generous to the hurting — even the sinful-hurting — is a first step in being able to really turn to him. When we begin to grasp his true nature, we come to understand He’ll be gentle with us over this stuff. We can trust that He’s not going to shame us further, but rather, as we repent He’ll offer us forgiveness and the possibility of transformation.
Getting past the pain thrust on us by our husbands is just one aspect of our healing. It’s a vitally important one of course, which my video series Compassion (part 1 below) will explore. However, let’s remember that survival and healing also involve getting out from under our own shame. It involves having a fresh encounter with the God who is willing, able and well-pleased to transform us.
Next week I’ll look more at the other two practical ways spiritual growth is helping us betrayed wives: it’s maturing us and helping us to overcome.
For the moment, enjoy part 1 of Compassion -- which I'll soon be presenting (in shortened form) at a sexual addiction training event for counselors and pastors. My goal with this movie: to honor your pain and educate others.