Ashley Madison security breach; people are amazed. Famous people get caught like Josh Dugger, Jerod Fogel, and Tiger Woods; people are surprised and disgusted. I am surprised by how surprised we all are! Lots of these famous people have been inspiring role models who fell into a terrible lifestyle and were caught right in front of America’s eyes, ouch! Unfortunately, in my line of work, I see this all too often with many people who are inspiring role models, no matter if they are famous or not. Pastors, fathers, husbands, and sons have all fallen into sexual temptations. I have also seen women, daughters, wives, and mothers fall into this lifestyle as well. The person I have seen hurt more than anyone in these situations is the spouses. I know lots of men are hurting in many of the same ways, but for the purpose of keeping it consistent, I will refer to the spouses as female: those women who are so surprised and terrified by what they are coming to realize. Their husbands are not who they thought they were.
Tragically, one reaction I see all too often is the women blaming themselves. There is a lot of thought and judgment about why a man cheats. The obvious answer seems to be that his wife wasn’t doing enough for him, probably sexually. Many, many, many women I speak with have done all that they can for their husband sexually, going to extreme lengths to “satisfy” him at home, and unfortunately I end up seeing them crying in my office asking, “How did I fail him? He told me I was doing fine sexually but obviously it wasn’t enough.” Let me be clear to every reader out there…you are enough. And even if you were not on the same page sexually, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, there is absolutely no reason but their own choice that they sought another person. Blaming yourself is not the answer. You are hurting because this man is not the man you thought he was. Mourning the loss of the idea you had of him and the future you thought you were going to have with him, is hard enough. It is not your fault. You make your own choice to be faithful, he has the same choice.
That being said, you are still left with a massive pile of hurt and it is your responsibility to start the process of grieving, and healing yourself. What are some steps you can take to help you through the infidelity of a spouse?
- Know that you are not alone. You may not know someone who has had this happen, yet. But if you reach out and start talking to safe people (maybe just start with one close friend, or call a counselor) it can be life changing!
- Do Not Isolate! Satan does his best work when people isolate. When you walk into a room that is completely dark, what happens? You might stub your toe on a coffee table, trip over the kids’ toys, and fall. Getting out of your head and connected with people is the light that shines in the dark room. God wants you to go to Him and to the people He gave you to help in the hard times. By calling a trusted friend, counselor, or joining a group (look into S-Anon for support in infidelity!), this helps get the dark insides of our lives out into the open so Satan has no place to work, and God can do life changing transformation.
- There is hope! I have seen many relationships recover from infidelity. Many who are happy as a family again. It takes a lot of hard work and patience, from both sides, but it is possible! One thing I do not see often is one spouse working on their issues while the other does not, and still ending up together. Those that grow together, typically stay together…which leads me to the next point.
- There are dysfunctional dynamics at play. In a relationship where a person is going outside of the marriage for any reason, they have a very big issue. The problem is, the spouse of that person also needs help in learning what those dysfunctional attributes are and how they can “stop playing that game.” It is very complex and difficult, but it is a must that the spouse learns how to deal with this issue from their side of the table. It takes two to make a marriage, and when one spouse goes wrong, the other needs just as much help getting to the right path to a happy healthy marriage!
Infidelity is crushing. It breaks up more than marriages. It breaks up children, parents, grandparents, friends, and even the family pets suffer. If you or someone you know is struggling with infidelity, the only way to start healing is getting the secret out into the open to safe people, and get help. God gave us family and friends for support. We need each other, so use what He gave you, even if it is just a phone call. If you are a friend of someone who has had this happen to them, do not abandon them. This is a time of great need for them. The temptation is to look at their pain and say, “I don’t know what to say” or “They have a lot going on right now, so I will just give them their space”. The reality is that silence is perfectly acceptable, as long as you are present for them. If you can, support and encourage them. Help them find others who have been through this too.
There is hope, and help out there. Contact me if you would like more information on help in your area, or if you are in Colorado Springs, I can help you find something here too. Don’t give up.
Comment Time: Let me know what you think! What is the best advice you have heard regarding infidelity? How have you helped a friend in need?