Have you ever read a book that was so familiar, you wondered if the author had stolen your diary?
I felt that way when I read Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Sexually Betrayed. Debra Laaser’s discovery of and recovery from her husband’s sexual betrayal mirrors my own. Even though I did not read her book while I was going through the healing process, I know from experience that her advice works! I’m glad to say that she will guide you through your trauma just the way I would if you were my friend.
My only reservation in handing you a book is that a book can be devoured in one evening, while the process of healing from sexual betrayal takes a much longer time. When I had first discovered my husband’s sexual betrayal, I begged my mentor for the band-aid of a helpful book. Wouldn’t you know, she refused to offer any titles to me! She said that she’d much rather me take the time to pray; to pour my heart out before the Lord and listen for His guidance and love. In retrospect, I deeply appreciate her advice. Because I wasn’t running to a book’s big-picture advice, I was able to hear God’s wisdom about each little step that I was to take day after day. Of course, in time, I sought the wisdom of a handful of books that made a big difference in our restoration.
So, if you are ready for some book-advice, I do not hesitate to recommend Shattered Vows to you. Now, I will warn you: Laaser’s life seems “bigger” than most of our lives. (She was the CEO of a national company and her husband was a successful pastoral counselor when his sexual betrayal graced the front of the local newspaper. He then had the opportunity to attend a 3-week treatment center.) But, once you get beyond Mark and Debra Laaser’s specific circumstances, Debra’s wisdom is applicable for all of us, as she refers primarily to Scripture and the credible 12-step recovery program.
If you are reeling from the discovery of your husband’s sexual betrayal, take a deep breath, pray, and consider only tackling the first chapter: “What Am I Supposed to Do Now? First Steps for the Brokenhearted.” You’ll be relieved to find the answers to questions that might be keeping you awake at night. You know, the big ones like, “Should I Leave or Stay?” “What Do I Tell the Kids?” and “How Can I Make Sure He Deals with His Problems?” Laaser explains the importance of creating boundaries and consequences, while deliberately not controlling the husband who needs to address his sin personally. This chapter addresses choices that you will want to make right away in order to give you and your husband a better foundation for healing and possible restoration.
Then, if I were you, I’d put the book down for a moment. Breathe again. Pray again. Follow through with Laaser’s very wise first-chapter advice, one step at a time.
Once you are ready, pick the book up again and tackle the next few chapters, which will help you to find support and to understand how the betrayal happened. Laaser offers deep wisdom about what to do with your fragile heart as you are processing and recovering from the trauma.
In time, tackle the remaining chapters in the book, which will lead you through the process of relinquishing control, getting well, forgiving, rebuilding trust, and pursuing restoration if possible. Without a doubt, you will find a wealth of information and encouragement just when you need it most: to hear over and over again that full healing really is possible in Christ.
Shattered Vows is packed with wisdom that will apply to your journey over time. Laaser does a wonderful job of unraveling each thread that is woven into the restoration process. Plan to keep a copy of the book on your nightstand for as long as it takes you to follow through, one thread at a time. Consider buying a copy for a close Christian friend or mentor so that you can pray about and discuss it together.
I’ll leave you with one line that I underlined from page 203:
“As you forgive the one who betrayed you, you will find yourself talking differently about him, thinking differently about him, and extending mercy to him. This kind of forgiveness invites you into the process yourself, recognizing that you can extend true forgiveness only if you have been on the receiving end of it.”