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Navigating the Pain of Intimate Betrayal as a Christian: Shifting Perspective and Finding Healing

By November 3, 2023No Comments

“As a Christian, I shouldn’t have to deal with pain like I feel after learning about my husband’s betrayal.”

Have you felt this way but were afraid to admit it, let alone say it out loud? I have.

Discovering your husband looks at porn or has taken it to the next level hurts bad enough.

But when you pile on the shame and embarrassment from dealing with the aftershocks of this discovery, the burden feels way too heavy. Unbearable. Unfair. Why should you have to deal with this crap? You didn’t betray him. Yet you feel smothered by the fallout of his struggle.

Often, when you are in the throes of the initial shock of discovering his betrayal, self-flagellating thoughts pop up.

    • I should have lost that baby weight.
    • I should have wanted more sex.
    • I shouldn’t have been so busy.
    • I should have known. Why didn’t I?
    • I shouldn’t have to put up with this behavior.

As I tell my clients: “Stop should-ing or shouldn’t-ing on yourself. It doesn’t help.”

While there might be some truth in each thought, using words like “should” reveals an expectation that hasn’t been met. You expected life to be one way and discovered something different. These thought spirals can quickly become discouraging. You don’t need that.

Maybe you’ve thought, “If God is all-powerful and knows everything, why did he let this happen? He could have prevented it.”

And the more defeating, “I guess God doesn’t care about me after all. I mean, a loving God would have protected me. Maybe I’m not worth loving.”

As these thoughts swirl, your sense of defeat, aloneness, loneliness, and worthlessness builds. Instead of helping you process the trauma, these lies increase it. They make you feel worse. And they dampen whatever small flame of hope you might hold onto.

Real thoughts.
Legitimate pain.
Honest questions.

Misplaced perspective.

In her article, “Living Beyond Our Doubts,” Jo Ann Fore encourages us to look at these shoulds, fears, pain, and doubts differently. She says,

“Where did I get sidetracked? When did I start believing God should always heal me and my loved ones and protect us in ways I deemed suitable?

I guess it happened when I started thinking of God as some sort of slot machine, Santa-Claus image who magically granted all my wishes if I’d been nice rather than naughty.

How did I lose the reverence and awe of God? Did I forget the excellence of the Holy Spirit? The Sovereignty of God? The wonder of the cross?

My vision skewed as I tried to bridge the chasm between my preconceived notion of some sort of magical exemption from adversity and God’s abiding presence in the midst of pain. That’s one difficult divide.”

This article takes five minutes to read. Please do.

As a Christian, you were never promised an easy, pain-free life.

Somewhere along the way, especially in first-world countries, it has become a right to follow God, have the house and car of your dreams, work your dream job, have two brilliant, well-behaved children, and never struggle.

Where do you find this expectation in the Bible?

The Bible does say that God will never leave you. Because of God’s presence, you do not need to fear. God says he’ll provide everything you need.

However, the Bible also tells you that struggles will come. Accepting God’s free salvation gift doesn’t exempt you from problems or difficulties. Your strength and comfort in any difficulty directly correlate to your trust in and dependence on God. He never changes and is always faithful.

How do you get a new perspective about his betrayal?

It’s not easy. But it is essential for you to heal.

1. Acknowledge your pain.

Name it. Write it out if that helps. Just don’t ignore it. Identify your emotions; don’t fear them.

2. Give yourself some grace and space to deal with one thing at a time.

Often, when you’re in a crisis, you try to handle everything at once because it all seems urgent. Get some help to pause, breathe, and identify your next choice or action.

3. Pause daily to read the Bible (maybe read the Psalms) and talk to God about how you feel.

If that feels weird, use a journal to write out your thoughts. You can tell God your deepest fears, disappointments, angry thoughts, crazy ideas, or whatever else. He can and will listen well. I discovered this truth when I was in the deepest part of my anger after discovering my husband’s porn struggles. God heard my rants. The more time I spent reading the Bible, journaling, and being quiet, the more I could find the peace and comfort I needed.

Perspective shifts take an honest evaluation of your life.

His struggle isn’t yours to carry, but you will bear some emotional damage. You can choose to deny the hurt, bury it, and hope it never comes back around. Or you can face it head-on by seeking the help you need to process the pain. It’s your choice.

  • 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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