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Exploring the Pain a Betrayed Wife Experiences

Pure Life Ministries’ co-founder, Kathy Gallagher, shares some of her personal perspective about the severe inner turmoil of a wife who has just found out about her husband’s sexual sin.

When I discovered my husband's sin, the sense of betrayal was profound. I had always been raised to believe that marriage and the union between a husband and wife was totally sacred. So when Steve had given away that sacredness that we had together as a couple, it was just devastating, and it is for every wife. There's the sense of betrayal—that you've lost something through this process. And there's the aloneness and the fear and all of the emotions that come in because of that sense of betrayal. And it's not just the sense of betrayal but the actual betrayal—that my husband has either been with other people physically or that he has viewed pornography. Either way, it's just devastating; there's really no other term I can think of to describe it.

<pull-quote>There is a lot of fallout from sexual sin within marriage. There are so many things that happen to the spouse and to the relationship as a result of infidelity.<pull-quote><tweet-link>Tweet This<tweet-link>

Betrayal in a marriage is almost the worst thing that can happen. You can think of lots of other things that can happen in a marriage that can really rock your world, but when there's been betrayal—sexual betrayal—it's the worst thing that a man can do to his wife or that a wife can do to her husband. It happens both ways; mostly it's men in sexual sin, but there have been women that have been in sexual sin. And the devastation that the spouse goes through! Everything falls apart. What you thought you had is no longer there; it's gone. And you're reeling. “Where do I go from here? How do I put this back together?” And I think there's aloneness and fear and...lostness is the word that keeps coming into my mind. You feel so lost. This person that I love, that I've completely given myself to and have devoted the rest of my life to, has betrayed me. The person that I counted on and depended on and needed and wanted and was one with has betrayed me. He has, in a sense—this is maybe overly dramatic—he's put a knife in my back...or, at the very least, put a knife in this relationship.

Mistrust is enormous, because you don't just land on your feet after you find out that your husband has been unfaithful. It's more like you're on your back and you don't know how to get up. How do you move forward? If there has even been repentance, how do you go forward from this reality? How do you go into the future with this man? How do you ever know that you can trust him again? How do you build trust in this mess? Mistrust, for me, wasn't as big of a deal as it is for a lot of women, because I was very naive, and I wanted it to work, and I was just ready to move forward. But it kept happening, and that's when mistrust was really becoming a part of my world. And how to deal with it was a real problem for me. I know it is for lots of women. You just don't know how to move forward.

<pull-quote>Worse for a wife than lost love is losing respect for her husband. If you don't respect him, you're not going to fight for him. You're not going to be in his corner to do battle.<pull-quote><tweet-link>Tweet This<tweet-link>

The sense of rejection for a woman is...it brings me to tears to think about it. As a woman, you start to think about what he's doing, especially if he's with other people. You're immediately questioning yourself—at least, I did. I questioned myself: “What's wrong with me? What's so wrong with me that he needs to be with other people?” And it just cuts at the heart of who you are as a woman, as a person. “What is so wrong with me that he needs to go somewhere else for sex?” And even if it's just pornography. I would say that when a man commits physical adultery, there's no comparison to that rejection. There really isn't. You can't compare pornography to adultery. But what was so painful for me when Steve was viewing pornography was that he was leaving me out. He had a separate world that was his and that didn't include me. But it included all kinds of images and situations with strangers. And I was out of his world—not that I wanted to be a part of that world. But the statement that was being made (whether he was vocalizing or not), the statement that he was living out was, "This is who I am; this is what I want; and I don't want you in there." And that is hard to reconcile.

I would say that the worst thing that can happen to a woman, far more than lost love, is losing respect for her husband. Because if you don't respect him, you're not going to fight for him. You're not going to get in his corner, and you're not going to do battle. I'll just use my own story. Time after time after time, Steve would fail...without repentance. And I just got to the point where I started seeing him differently. He wasn't the strong, confident guy that I married. I saw him as weak; I saw him as kind of sleazy; and my respect was just going away. And I kind of didn't even care. In fact, I wanted him to go away. I didn't want to fight for the marriage. There was nothing to fight for. I just couldn't imagine living with him. Literally, I could not fathom living with this man anymore. I had such disdain and disgust inside for him that there was nothing left to fight for.

There's a lot of fallout from a man in sexual sin. And the outcome for a wife—the symptoms, the outcomes, the results of the sin he's been in—it's pretty hard to sum it all up and say one thing. There are so many things that happen to a woman and to their marriage as a result of infidelity.

Have you been devastated by the pain and rejection of an unfaithful husband? Whether your husband’s problem is pornography, an adulterous affair, soliciting prostitutes, or even secretly struggling with homosexuality…we can help you.


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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