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Rebuild Your Marriage 3 minute read

What You Need to Hear if Your Husband Betrayed You

Last Updated: May 18, 2021

As a counselor who specializes in sexual issues, I’ve heard from many wives with spouses who struggle with pornography. Their stories of courage fill my heart with gratitude for their resolve and strength. Their stories of pain and betrayal grip me and tear my heart in two.

If you’ve experienced the unfaithfulness of a spouse through pornography or other sexual sins, I have no doubt you understand the pain I am describing.

I seriously wish time and other circumstances allowed me to sit down with you as a friend and listen to each of your stories for hours. I would love to cry with you, hug you, hold your hand, and offer encouragement and support. Since that’s not possible, I’d like to offer a very condensed summary of some of the things I’d share if we were in person.

This is not your fault.

I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I have yet to meet a man who didn’t bring his sexual struggles, including porn use, into his marriage with him. Most men who struggle with porn actually have the false notion that marriage will stop their problem.

So, if the problem didn’t start with you, it certainly can’t be your fault.

Also, if you’re tempted to say, “But I should have been enough to stop him from these cravings,” then you’re tempted to believe a lie.

In the rare case where a husband begins struggling after marriage, it speaks to his inability to have healthy intimacy. It does not speak to the wife. Each of us are responsible for our own choices. We each choose sin at times, because we are sinners. If your spouse chooses sin, it is because of his sinful desires–period.

You can’t fix your husband.

A wife recently told me her husband had left and refuses to deal with his problem. She said, “I just don’t know what I can do to help him.

My heart sank, because so many women think if only they did the right thing, he would be okay. This is not about you failing to be beautiful enough, skinny enough, or sexy enough. It’s not about you not having enough sex with him or not wanting to try new things in bed.

He is responsible for himself. Only he can make the choice to change.

You experienced a trauma.

Women who have experienced a betrayal, including the betrayal of pornography, often suffer through some of the same symptoms as someone who has experienced a rape. What you have experienced is serious, and you deserve help.

Allow yourself time to grieve, and surround yourself with help. You cannot do this alone. Please do not worry about protecting your husband’s privacy by trying to battle this alone. Know that you will go through the stress involved in trauma, and be gentle with yourself. It is healthy to allow yourself to feel sadness, anger, betrayal, etc. These emotions are very real, and they must be felt in order to move on from this betrayal.

Those who mean well and say, “Forgive and forget,” often do more harm than good. Although forgiving someone certainly is Biblical, ignoring and living in denial of our pain is not.

God loves you, cares about your hurt, and desires to heal you. Take the time you need to grieve. Join a support group, get some counseling, tell a trusted friend. You deserve to be loved through this difficult season.

It’s okay to set boundaries.

Unless there is truly a desire and effort to change, you do not owe it to your husband to blindly yield to every one of his whims to have sex with you. You have permission to set boundaries, often with the help of a counselor or trusted advisor, to move your relationship with your spouse toward health. If you are unsure whether he also betrayed you physically, you could possibly even be putting your life at risk by submitting to him sexually.

I want to be clear, I’m not talking about punishing, getting revenge, or being cruel to your husband. I’m talking about working through this, and setting a boundary meant to both protect you and allow your spouse to understand the severity of his offenses.

You must move toward your personal health.

I do not swallow the notion that some subscribe to, calling every woman married to someone sexually addicted a codependent. However, marriage is comprised of two people, not only one, who are broken, imperfect, bent toward sin, and prone to selfishness. We do ourselves a disservice if we demand someone else to change, yet refuse to look at our own brokenness.

Again, as stated above, your husband’s issue is not your fault. However, you have a responsibility to allow yourself to heal from your husband’s betrayal and any other broken areas from your past. This responsibility doesn’t lie in your husband’s hands. You are a strong, beautiful, powerful, precious child of God. The power to heal lies in your own reach.

I am sorry.

I have never been betrayed in this way. However, I have experienced both sexual addiction and pornography addiction. So, as someone who has sexually sinned, I would like to apologize on behalf of your addicted husband. I am sorry for your pain, your betrayal, and all the horrible things that you have had to deal with because of his choices. You deserved, and still deserve, so much better. I am truly sorry.

Precious lady, be encouraged. There is hope for your husband. But more importantly, there is hope for you!

  1. Jo

    I too sinned by looking at pornography and commiting adultery. I am a wife…I eventually found ‘mr right’ 3 decades ago, not realising the plank in my own eye.
    From my wedding day, I vowed to change my wild ways, for The Lord, while My husband took this opportunity to expand his ‘secret library’. I was enraged. Mostly for allowing myself to be decieved. I decided To end the marriage and rejected him. Then I got pregnant, and we rejected our baby (as ex-Catholics, THE mortal sin).
    When I woke from the op, The Lord had rejected me! I was lost-desolate. I committed adultery, with anybody who would have me. I defiled/slept with my husband after others (so many), I Told my husband I had met someone and was moving on-we separated.
    He was relieved, quite happy with his own ‘hobby’…I found Jesus (or He found me), and I started to try to change myself (sin no more), I failed again…My husband didn’t seek change, his sin wasn’t ‘physical’. Then came the internet, Which took both of us over, as if things couldn’t get any worse…Somehow, we’re still together, not sinning sexually (any more) but severely damaged-childless, because of the abortion. I am sorry, for your betrayal. I know how it feels, don’t give up, there is Hope of deliverance and forgiveness. Why would Jesus say ‘repent’ if He didn’t want to forgive? ‘…with God, all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26).

  2. Beth

    I found out a month ago that my husband of 30 years cheated on me 6 months ago. He is the only man I have ever been with and I am the only one he’s been with other than a few quick girls in high school. It started with porn and then Craig’s list adds and other filthy message boards where men post their reviews of hookers. He paid for sex with several of them. We are Christians but I am really struggling with it all. The betrayal is just devastating. All the sneaking around and lies and planning is just to much for me. I was totally blind to all of it. The really sad thing is I never in a million years thought he would do something like this. He is quite, not outgoing at all and a little backwards, but he managed to do it several times in spite of all that. I’m trying to forgive but all the scenarios and messages on the boards are always in the back of my mind. He’s answered every question I had and I think he’s being honest. He doesn’t want to loose me. If he looses me he will lose his daughters as well. They were very upset over all of this and it makes me sad for them and their futures with husbands. Has anyone experienced this kind of betrayal? I just don’t know how to let it go and move on. It’s been a month and I still want to cry all the time….

  3. Julie

    I appreciate what you have shared! It is refreshing and helpful to me. I have battled with all of the lies you mention. My husband of almost 11 years confessed in June to a pornography addiction he has had since he was introduced to it at 12. This addiction led to adultery with women online. I was devistated like I have never been before. The pain has been the worst of my life. We have 5 beautiful children together. At the time he confessed, I was in a sexual abuse survivor class to deal with burried trauma of childhood sexual abuse which was also fueled by a pornography addicition. So, while it was alot to deal with at once, I see the kindness of God in providing me mentors when I needed them. The biblical counseling ministry at my church has walked me through this. I want to offer hope and encouragement! You should not walk this alone. Walking with godly women has been a balm for me in this terrible circumstance. I have been able to begin walking around with my head held high (still droops sometimes) because I have been washing myself in God’s word as these ladies mentor me. I have been finding my identity in Jesus. My husband is also being mentored through men in our church. Breaking this addiction is not easy, and as hard as this is to swallow, our husbands need grace from us in this difficult process. I would not have picked this suffering, but I can also see how God has used it to reveal more of himself to me. We have a long road ahead of us, but I know I can trust my Father, God! He says he is near to the broken hearted, and I have experienced that. He is teaching me to daily forgive my husband and others. He is patient with me because it is not easy and I struggle! I have been able to begin to pray for the many woman my husband has been with. They are broken, too. So, yes, life – altering and heart shredding, but I am confident that as we both grow in the Lord our marriage can be stronger.

  4. Amy

    And what about the husband who leaves you for another woman? Please speak to that type of infidelity as well.

    • Kay Bruner

      When the marriage covenant is broken, you are free to choose a way forward that is right for you, including divorce. Perhaps this article will be helpful to you.

  5. Roxann

    As a current grieving wife, I can totally feel this article. The first thought that comes to a womans mind when this happens to her is “what is wrong with me?” And we start to feel ugly, fat, unwanted and not sexy enough. No matter what we do. It is very important for the woman going through this to fully understand that it is not her fault. And you can forgive but you never forget, and it is very hurtful and requires a lot of healing and self love.

  6. Diana

    Thank you for this. I have yet to talk with someone else about my husband’s pornography addiction, and you have helped me to see that I should. I can feel your sincere empathy for what I am going through, and it means more than I can say. Thank you again.

    • Kay Bruner

      I’m glad, Diana! Feeling heard is often the first step in healing. There absolutely is help and hope and healing for you! Find your way!

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