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3 Truths to Help You Heal from Marital Betrayal

Last Updated: May 9, 2018

Melody Lovvorn

Melody Lovvorn is the co-founder of Undone Redone, a ministry where she and her husband work with families in crisis, equip and shepherd churches with Gospel-centric resources in the areas of sexual brokenness and healthy sexuality, equip parents to shepherd and safeguard children in a digital age, and help establish Christ-centered recovery groups. She developed an online course that helps women find hope and healing after betrayal called Life Beyond Betrayal.  She and her husband live in Birmingham, Alabama, and have four children.

After ten years of marriage, the undeniable truth of my husband’s betrayal came to light. My children were five, four, two and six-months old, and the reality of the betrayal hit me like being broadsided with a two-by-four. The person who I loved more than anyone in the world, who was supposed to be the safest place on earth for me, was now the object of my unbearable pain.

mom with baby

The emotional chaos in the aftermath added uncertainty that paralyzed me with fear and made me question everything. Nothing felt safe, and nothing felt normal. The gremlins of shame and humiliation tried to isolate me from friends and family; however, I knew that finding  a safe community would be my lifeline. Walking with others who understood what I was feeling and going through provided a beautiful reminder that I wasn’t alone on this journey. I could somehow survive this!

If I could write down everything I learned on this journey I could fill a bookshelf, so I will try to narrow this down to some key lessons that proved extremely helpful for my healing.

It’s Not Your Fault

One of the lessons I learned was that the betrayal wasn’t my fault. It happened to me, but not because of me. I grew up believing that if I followed the rules and made good choices,  everything would turn out okay. So when a life crisis like betrayal happened to me, I automatically felt guilty and thought I did or didn’t do something to cause it. I couldn’t process this life-quake.

Early in my life, I jumped on a “performance” treadmill where I worked hard to please everyone. The performance paradigm I operated from had me trying to be all things for all people (it was my Christian responsibility), instead of living in a place as the Beloved daughter of the King.

Even though the betrayal cut to the core of who I was, I gained some perspective early in this healing journey by understanding “I didn’t cause this, I can’t cure this, and I can’t control it.” Knowing I couldn’t fix something I didn’t do gave me a fresh perspective and a ray of hope that I could survive.  I slowly began to give myself the grace I needed to regain my identity and preserve my self-esteem.  Also, I began to rebuild a sense of safety and security in a new world filled with mistrust and uncertainty.

Related: 5 Things I Always Say to Porn-Shocked Wives

Give Yourself Permission to Feel

Another lesson I learned on this journey is that I had to give myself permission to feel the full range of emotions that come after a betrayal. As a Christian, I was so used to being “happy, happy, joy, joy” all the time. I found myself on a never-ending emotional roller coaster, and I had to realize that having a wave of confusing and unpredictable emotions, such as sadness or anger, didn’t make me a bad person.

I believe the more I gave myself permission to feel whatever the feelings were–instead of stuffing them or pretending they would just go away–the quicker I was able to move through the emotions. Usually the pain of betrayal is not the most damaging to a person. Often our reaction and response to the event causes the most damage. I had no choice but to work through the disappointment, the disillusionment, and all the emotions.

Related: Managing the Difficult Emotions of Marital Betrayal

Remember God Is Good

Despite all of this, I experienced that even in the middle of what feels like the most horrible of circumstances, God is good. It took me walking into my counselor’s office to be reminded that “the enemy is hunting–trying to steal, kill, and destroy” and that “life is messy” instead of clean and neat. We will all experience a life-quake at some point that will challenge everything we know to be true.

Once we let the past go, we won’t get stuck in it. I may not like “letting go,” but my purpose is to surrender to whatever life looks like in the present and look forward to the future. I am not defined by the details of my story because God is the author of it. This betrayal is not the end of my story; it’s simply a life chapter and the beginning of something new. No matter what happens, God is still good! I may not totally understand the set of circumstances I have been dealt, but I know without a doubt, He is GOOD!

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  • Comments on: 3 Truths to Help You Heal from Marital Betrayal
    1. Helena on

      How long did it take for you to truly feel you were past it?

      Reply
      • Melody Lovvorn on

        Thank you for your question. I believe for me it took a couple of years because I didn’t have the resources available that we do today. I created this Life Beyond Betrayal to appeal to the many learning styles and to provide all the things that I wish I had. Many women that don’t have a few safe friends, or counselling, or a support system available like a community group to process the emotions and heal on this journey, it can prolong the healing process. This course helps someone gain traction every day so that you can keep moving and not get stuck.

      • mukanda mashika on

        It really touched me as if u were screening wht I going trough in my marriage.. Frm one betrayal to another.I need help.

      • Kay Bruner on

        Hey there. I’m so sorry for the tough time you’re going through. Let me see if I can point you to some helpful resources.

        First of all, here’s a link that takes you to a listing of our top articles for wives.

        Make sure you read up on boundaries, here and here.

        I would also recommend that you find a counselor in your area who can help you process through your emotions, and think about healthy boundaries. There are great directories at the American Association of Christian Counselors and also Psychology Today. Groups are also a great form of support for women. Find support just for you, so you make healthy choices, no matter what your husband chooses.

        Peace to you, Kay

    2. PKF on

      Dear Sir or Madam, I clicked on the 3-part video series “Life Beyond Betrayal” and was disappointed for the following reasons. The first video was very brief and different offer anything. I tried to find/play the 2nd video and was not able to locate it and then was blocked out. I had signed in once with my name, and email address, which I don’t like to give out. I don’t know what happened. Is the site still functional? There were no instructions on how to get part II of the series. Best regards, PKF

      Reply
      • Melody Lovvorn on

        I apologize for your inconvenience. My purpose for giving you a number of videos over the course of three days was to build a relationship with you without giving you too much information. Many women are overwhelmed after the discovery of betrayal and I didn’t want you to feel like you were drinking from a fire hydrant with the information.

        Here are all these short videos:
        Promo video:
        http://www.lifebeyondbetrayal.com (Intro Video to a Betrayed Spouse)
        Video #1
        http://www.lifebeyondbetrayal.com/key1/ (Key #1 – Knowing The Nature Of What You Are Dealing With)
        Video #2
        http://www.lifebeyondbetrayal.com/key-2/ (Key #2 – Establishing Proper Expectations)
        Video #3
        http://www.lifebeyondbetrayal.com/key-3-2/ (Key #3 Developing a Proper Plan)
        Let me know if you have any other questions.

    3. Mr. Reis on

      What about men being cheated on? I was cheated on a year ago. The first 6 months, my wife tried to be nice and do/say things she said to the other man. I was still emotional and didn’t trust. Married 12 years with two kids and a great career, it hit me like a brick. I use to drink a lot and my wife helped me stop. She showed me another side of life. I have complete and utter love for her and I was amazed it happened. After 6 months, I finally realized I need help and got a therapist. We did marriage counseling. After 3 months, she said she just doesn’t love me and wants to end it. I know God is here, but still not to the point where I feel that anything is left in my life. I’m loosing my rock, my house, and won’t get to see my kids as much. Never saw being divorced at 38. I just can get over how you can be with someone for almost 17 years and throw them out like a piece of trash.

      Reply
      • Chris McKenna on

        Mr. Reis, my heart breaks for families who are broken apart by situations like yours. I can’t imagine the feeling of betrayal you must deal with daily. Here is a blog post from 2010 that tries to come at it from the husband’s side when his wife was unfaithful. I have prayed for you, your children, and for your former wife. Please stay hopeful! I have to believe the reconciliation is always possible. Peace, Chris

      • Margaret on

        That’s horrible. I feel the same way. Like an old teddy bear threw out to the trash. Not needed anymore and not loved anymore.

      • Kimberly Wax on

        I had a five year affair on my husband. My husband and I had never ‘known’ anyone else. After twenty years of being lonely living with a man, who worked at least 80 hours a week, who rarely touched me and succumbed to occasional porn, which broke the last of my strength, I made a huge mistake and fell prey to a sex addict child-hood friend and classmate. I have paI’d dearly in excruciating pain as this man betrayed me, lied to me, manipulated me, then blamed me for his sex addiction. I was given HPV, a sexually transmitted fungus, and different bacterial infections.

        During my separation from my husband, he had a wake-up call, we t to counseling with our pastor, changed careers, and has broken his bond with pornography.

        God finally gave me the strength to break free from that excuse of a human with whom I had an affair. I am still recovering from the mental and emotional abuse he put me through. It has been a just payment for the cruel, cowardly, selfish choice I made to have an affair.

        My husband has been beyond gracious. He and my family prayed for my deliverance from that fiend. My husband never threw it up in my face, but is loving me back to wholeness. He says it pains him to see me so broken, but he is forever grateful to the man with whon I had the affair for throwing me away, so he could have a second chance for us. Now, that is God.

        We are about to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I know most cases do not end like ours. I could never be stay with someone who cheated on me, I know that for a fact. I also know that God is your rock, never another human. You will find your strength, comfort, vengence, vindication, grace, joy, and deliverance in Him alone.

    4. Hillevi on

      “Forgive, forget, and move on.” This is the quick fix overall philosophy of the church toward the betrayed wife. I actually had a worship pastor scold me for making a big deal the first time my husband was caught with his porn habit. He needed him as the drummer on the worship team and his request to step away while healing was unacceptable — even though one of his ‘temptations’ was a member of the worship team!

      Shame on me. No consequences. So the next time it went beyond porn and into strip clubs, prostitutes, and a fantasy affair with a co-worker.

      Then I was told to “own my part” in his betrayal: and I quote — “The woman’s lack of obedience to her husband and her failure to care for her outward appearance are most often the cause for a Godly husband to become wayward.” Never mind that I had three small children, two teens, a part time job, cooks the meals, cleans the house, and falls in bed exhausted — I needed to get to the gym, allocate money for the beauty parlor, and become the divine sexual goddess to my husband who was surrounded by women at the office who take meticulous to care for their appearance.

      Recently, my (in recovery) husband read the book “When Sorry isn’t Enough.” It clearly states how the church goes against God’s example by telling wives if they don’t forgive their husbands, God won’t forgive them. I quote from the book, “When a pastor encourages a wife to forgive her erring husband while he continues in his wrong doing, the minister is requiring of the wife something that God Himself does not do. Jesus’ teaching is that we are to be always willing to forgive, as God is always willing to forgive, those who repent.”

      There is so little balanced support for women who are in anguish over their husband’s betrayal. As women, we gravitate toward trying to find a way to heal.The barrage of self help books have often done more damage than good. On another blog for wives, we have started a list of Bad Bad Books. Suffice to say that anything that tells you that you own a part of your husband’s (or wive’s) choice to sin — is out and out rubbish.

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Thank you, Hillevi. There is so much toxicity directed toward wives from the church. Thank you for speaking up: anything that blames wives for their husbands’ behaviors is pure garbage and I would add, an abomination in the sight of God.

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