“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:1-3).
There is that day of discovery, that day when life as you know it is ripped from your hands. It may catch you totally by surprise or it may finally be the proof confirming your suspicions. In either case, this revelation knocks you off your feet, sends you tumbling and struggling to catch your breath. You’re left with the overwhelming realization that your life may never be the same again. Through no fault of you own, you’ve found yourself in the pit of betrayal. In the days to come, each new disclosure of infidelity feels like dirt being poured on top of your already suffocating body, threatening to bury you alive.
Can anyone survive this, much less learn from it? The answer is “yes.” It is possible to not only survive, but thrive. Here are seven lessons that can be learned from the pit.
God hasn’t abandoned you.
When you discover your spouse has betrayed you, it is easy to feel alone and to question God’s place in all of this. On multiple occasions in the Bible, God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is not only with you, he sees your pain and every tear you cry. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8).
So, why did he let this happen? God did not cause your spouse to throw you in that pit. The Bible says he does not tempt or cause man to sin. But, he has created each of us with the freedom to make our own choices. The truth is God grieves with you. Your spouse has not only sinned against you; he has sinned against God.
You need help through the darkness.
The disorienting darkness of betrayal is likely unmatched by anything you’ve ever experienced. The tendency at a time like this is to isolate. Instead of groping blindly, reach out for help. But be careful who you grab. Turn to God. The Bible says that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. Even the blackest of circumstances is not dark to him. Daily allow him to guide you.
Also, reach out to someone who has been there and who will give you wise counsel. In Ecclesiastes it says, “Two are better than one because if one falls down, there is another there to pick them up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (4:9). Allow a faithful God and a trustworthy individual to help you.
You need healing for your brokenness.
It’s not uncommon for the betrayed to initially think they don’t need help, that they aren’t the one with the problem. But look around. You’re in a pit! It may be theoretically possible to be thrown into a pit without getting hurt, but it’s highly unlikely. There is likely a gaping wound or something broken.
Some say, “Time heals all wounds.” That’s seldom the case. An untreated gaping wound will likely become infected and can eventually affect the whole body. An untreated broken bone may mend on its own. But if it’s not set correctly it’s not likely to heal correctly, leading to a lifetime of pain and problems. Find a counselor who specializes in treating those who have been betrayed by another’s sexual addiction.
You may be a victim but you’re not innocent.
Hear me out before you get angry. I’m not suggesting that you are in any way responsible for your loved one’s choices. You did nothing to cause the acting out and there was nothing you could do to prevent it. That blame falls solely at the feet of the betrayer. Nor am I saying that you must be codependent. There are many women who were neither living in denial nor had any clue of their husbands’ addictive behaviors.
But, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There are none of us without faults and defects. Just as you did nothing to cause the problem, neither can you do anything to control or cure it. The best thing you can do is focus on becoming the healthiest you can be, physically, emotionally and spiritually, with the help of God. You and your other loved ones deserve that, regardless of whether your spouse chooses recovery or not.
Becoming a victim is not a choice but remaining one is.
Wearing the cloak of the victim initially is perhaps appropriate and definitely understandable. If you’re still wearing that same cloak several years from now, it’ll stink!
You are created in the image of God and because of that alone, you have great worth and deserve love and respect. He has a great plan for your life despite the choices your spouse has made and regardless of his decision about his own recovery. With the help of God, you can be an overcomer.
You can be out of the pit but not out of the woods.
In the initial crisis, we may become convinced of our need for God and the help of others. We may work diligently toward our own recovery. But when things seem to settle down, it is in our human nature to stop depending on God and to stop doing the things that got us to that point. Why else do pharmacists put a sticker on the side of every bottle of antibiotics that says, “Important: Finish all this medication.” When we start to feel better, it’s easy for us to think, “I’m well. I no longer need this.” Keep depending on God and working on a healthier you. You need it and you are worth it!
What God allows, he redeems.
The evil one, Satan, intended for this to destroy you. But the all-powerful God of the universe gets the last word. He wants to see you come through this stronger than ever and willing to comfort others as you have been comforted. He wants to put a new song of praise for him in your mouth so that many “will put their trust in him.” There are no wasted experiences in the hand of the Master.
It is possible to survive betrayal and the effects of another’s sexual addiction. And it is possible that your best days are still to come. It won’t come easily or quickly. But, with the help of God and your diligent work, it is not only possible, it’s probable. There’s still hope for you.
Beth Denison, CLC, PRC, along with her husband, Mark, founded There’s Still Hope, a national sexual addiction recovery ministry. Beth works with ladies one-on-one and in groups as a trained life coach and an A.A.S.A.T. Certified Partner Recovery Coach. She brings the experience of being married to a sex addict for 35 years. She has been a faithful pastor’s wife, popular speaker, and women’s ministry leader. For help in your own healing journey, visit There’s Still Hope.