An Open Letter to Wives who Feel Betrayed
My Dear Friend,
I want to share some thoughts about what you are going through now that I hope will be a help and a blessing to you.
Before I address the pain you are experiencing, I want to set the stage by pointing out a fundamental difference between men and women.
As you know, a woman’s affections and sex drive are fused together into one passion. For most of us this passion is directed at the man we love. But what many of us don’t realize is that men aren’t wired the same way; that men have a unique ability to utterly divorce their affections from their sex drive.
So this is why it came as quite a shock to you to discover that your husband has been living a double life right under your nose. Outwardly he seems to be sincerely devoted to you, but one day you discovered the terrible truth that he has had—for who knows how long—a completely separate life you have known nothing about. And this hidden existence all revolves around illicit sex involving, at some level, other people.
A Hurricane of Emotions
I know full well that the pain can be overwhelming when a wife first unearths the appalling truth about her husband’s secret life. Her thoughts and emotions swirl around inside her as if in a blender. One moment she is in a rage toward her husband; the next moment she is engulfed in fear and hopelessness; then she goes into a cold numbness. Sorting through these vacillating feelings of betrayal and rejection can be very difficult while in the middle of such a raging storm. No doubt this is what you have experienced.
Not only must you face your husband’s disloyalty, but you must also work your way through those feelings of overwhelming rejection. Facing the unspoken (or sometimes even spoken) accusation that there is something wrong with you is like a punch in the gut. So much of a woman’s sense of value comes from her husband’s admiration and love. To know he is longingly looking at the faces and bodies of other women is a blow to the heart and soul like nothing else. The reality of such a revelation is so huge in its proportions that it can drain the life out of a woman. But you know this all too well, don't you?
You’re Not the Only One
A man’s ability to separate his family life from his sex life has caused more emotional trauma in the female population than perhaps any other crisis a woman can face. It seems to be a common phenomenon across every social, cultural and racial boundary. Actually, it could be traced down through the centuries back to mankind’s earliest days.
For thirty years the wives counselors here at Pure Life Ministries have been hearing these gut-wrenching tales of emotional suffering. Let me tell you about Nicki. One day she accidentally happened upon some adult websites on her husband’s computer. She raced from one site to the next, trying to understand what was going on with him. The whole experience was shocking and humiliating.
"We were so in-love! You made me feel like a million bucks. You said there was no one else in this world you wanted but me. You told me all the time how beautiful I was to you. You had all kinds of sweet and endearing nicknames for me. Our beginning was, I thought, a harbinger of things to come.
"And then I saw the women you go to for your sexual thrills. How can I compete with the perfect bodies of those porn starlets? There was a time I thought I was pretty and desirable to you, now I can’t even bear to look at myself in the mirror. I feel like I’m a mass of blemishes and imperfections. What is wrong with me? Am I really so ugly that you must sneak around to see pictures of other women?"
Marti is another example I can share with you. She actually had a hand in the downfall of what she thought was going to be a happily-ever-after marriage when she agreed to watch porn with her husband. What followed was a nightmare that seemed would never end.
“He described the women to me: thin, dark skinned, dark haired women, who were about 10-15 years younger than me. I could get a mental picture of him with them. I wish he would have never told me those things. I blamed myself. Why did I let myself gain so much weight? Why didn’t I voice my concerns earlier? The “if onlys” consumed me.
“Had I ever satisfied him or would I be able to now? I would cry every time we were together for a while. I needed to know that I was pleasing him, that I was good enough, pretty enough. I wanted to have plastic surgery to become more attractive. I became completely self-focused.
“Eventually he decided to leave me. My worst fears were coming true. I was going to be alone. As he packed his bags I begged him to stay and work it out. After he left, I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t sleep. I lost about 20 pounds in 3 weeks and my hair began falling out. I wanted to die. I was further humiliated when I had to go and sit in a health clinic to get tested for HIV and STDs.”
Hearing these stories and hundreds just like them have been a painful part of my life for the past 30 years. I don't need to tell you how shocking the sudden and unexpected discovery is that your husband has a secret obsession with other women. It is all part of the betrayal and rejection you and other wives experience who are married to men addicted to pornography and illicit sex.
You Feel This Way for Good Reason
A man cannot cut any deeper into a woman’s heart than to take what is so personal and special and give it away to someone else. Sexual intimacy between married couples is the greatest expression of their devotion to each other. Even if the marriage isn’t necessarily great, still, a wife never expects this level of false-heartedness from the one who vowed his love and life to her. It is betrayal at the deepest level.
As I said above, such news can produce emotions that can be all over the place. This kind of inner turmoil can make her feel as if she is losing her mind. Even worse is when a calloused husband takes advantage of his wife’s vulnerability and uses it to his advantage. It seems that this is what you have had to deal with.
It is a lot for a woman to sort through. Margaret is yet another woman I should mention to you. Her inward life was in such turmoil. She describes what she experienced:
“I ordered Kathy Gallagher’s book “When His Secret Sin Breaks Your Heart.” This was the first resource I had found that offered any hope of comfort for me as the wife of a man struggling with sexual sin. I felt like each page I read described what I had been feeling and thinking & struggling with for many years on my own. It was a great comfort to know that I was not alone and that I was “not crazy” for feeling & thinking so many conflicting thoughts. There were others out there who had experienced the same thing and had turned to God for encouragement & strength when the days seemed the darkest.”
Sometimes just hearing of other women who have experienced similar pain and emotions can make an enormous difference in a hurting wife’s life.
The thing to remember while in the midst of such a storm is that God knows the truth about what you are dealing with and He cares very deeply. My testimony to you is that when I went through this with Steve I learned the secret of really turning to the Lord for solace. I came to know an intimacy with God I had never experienced before.
Let me end by encouraging you not to remain fixated on the painful details. Instead, turn to your Heavenly Father and pour out your heart to Him. He is, after all, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3) I also encourage you to join the Pure Life Wives Program. Those ladies have gone through this ordeal and can be a tremendous blessing to you.
I trust the Lord is going to meet you in a marvelous way in the days ahead!
In Christ's Love,
Kathy Gallagher is the Co-Founder and Senior Administrator of Pure Life Ministries. She has been ministering to Christian women for over 20 years and has a deep desire to see them living a fulfilled life in Christ.
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