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3 Intentional Ways To Grieve Well After Discovering Your Spouse’s Porn Struggles

grief

I sat slack-jawed as the counselor gave me one more thing to work through—grief. 

Grief requires you to deal with a loss. Grieving well involves dealing with the associated emotions.

It never occurred to me that I’d need to grieve the devastation of my marriage and the loss of my dream world. 

For 25 years, I’d believed that if I did everything right, served my husband and family to the best of my abilities, actively participated in my church, read my Bible, and prayed daily, my life would be relatively pain-free. But here I sat, working through my confusion and pain because life and God hadn’t followed my beliefs. 

Why doesn’t life follow a simple equation like A + B = C? 

I wanted life and Christianity to fit into a tidy box. Because grieving well was a new concept to me, I struggled. My counselor encouraged me to explore deeply buried feelings now surfacing after discovering my husband’s porn struggles. But all I wanted to do was to stuff them deeper. Facing the pain felt like drowning. 

Through the counselor’s gentle and skillful guidance, I understood that each person grieves differently. While grief often includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, expecting grief to follow an A + B = C process can set you up for more pain and depression. There’s no prescriptive way to grieve

Before I could restore my relationship with Dave, I had to acknowledge the loss of dreams, beliefs, expectations, relationships, reputation, self-image, and long-held beliefs about God.

The counselor encouraged me to write out how I felt about each loss. As someone who wants to do the right thing, have the correct answer, and loves to be in control, the grieving process felt like cresting Niagara Falls wearing a pair of swimming floaties

Wouldn’t it be better to shed a few tears, say it hurt, and then move on? 

Processing the colliding emotions couldn’t be healthy. And yet, that’s what the counselor encouraged. 

Brady Boyd, the senior pastor of New Life Church, spoke about good grief. He quoted Psalm 137:1

Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept

    as we thought of Jerusalem.

During his talk, God spoke to me personally. In the last few weeks, my sister entered eternity. Too early to my way of thinking, but not really. I understand that every day has purpose and meaning for those who call Christ their Lord and Savior. But the pain lingers. Sitting in church listening to Pastor Brady, I sensed God encouraging me to sit and work through this grief. Tears came along with acknowledging the loss of relationship and presence. 

As I listened to this message, here’s what I recalled about grieving well.

1. Acknowledge a new reality.

Any grief immediately alters your life path. Jerry Stitser, in A Grace Disguised, says loss moves you away from the direction you were on to a different way. You feel the pain because you can never return to that original destination. There’s where grief enters the picture. 

Yes, Dave and I were still married. But how we lived up to that point couldn’t continue. It wasn’t healthy. We had to find a different path if we hoped to heal and grow. If you’ve discovered your husband’s porn use, life as you know it has changed and will continue to move in a different direction. It must, because you’ve experienced loss. 

It’s time to create a new normal. 

2. Stop and process. 

How well do you grieve your losses? Not just the death of someone you love but also things like losing a dream, being looked over for a promotion, moving to a different locale, a broken friendship, a health scare or crisis, and more. 

It’s easy and feels more doable to ignore the painful emotions and keep moving forward. But that’s not God’s way. In Psalm 137, the psalmist writes that the Israelites sat and wept. They processed their grief. They took time to sit with the pain, talk about it with others, and allow the emotions to come out

I remember sitting with the counselor and voicing the pain I’d buried for years. Dave’s revelation caused pain but opened the hidden vault of repressed pain. For the first time, I felt safe enough to grieve multiple losses. 

Talking about the loss allows you to feel supported.   

3. Recall the past but don’t live there. 

When Dave revealed his struggle with porn, I remember saying I didn’t know him. I wondered if the previous years had been wasted. Neither was true. I did know my husband to some degree. And we had good years together. The current crisis didn’t negate that. Perhaps that initial response was part of the grief cycle. I don’t know. But as I healed and processed the pain, looking back revealed life’s many positive and enriching aspects. 

Your past has shaped you into who you are today—whether it was good or bad. To grieve well, you can’t get stuck looking back with either longing or disgust. At this point, you can’t change it, but you can look forward to new opportunities and growth. 

It’s good to recall the past, learn from it, and dream about the future

No one seeks grief, but it is part of life. 

 

When I compare

What I have lost with what I have gained,

What I have missed with what attained,

Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware

How many days have been idly spent;

How like an arrow the good intent

Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare

To measure loss and gain in this wise?

Defeat may be victory in disguise;

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

How well have you processed your losses?

If you feel stuck, please reach out

 

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.

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