"I don't want a divorce, but I've exhausted every avenue and I'm left with no other choice!"
Yes, sadly this was my situation as well. Sure, we could continue existing in a pseudo relationship with our spouse, but we know what the emotional abuse is doing to us as a person, so we finally accept that we can't save our marriage alone, and we cannot carry on this way.
You've read books, you've reached out to pastors, counselors and therapists. You've begged and pleaded to your husband to reach out and enter counseling. I know what it feels like to desperately want to save your marriage and family, but your spouse is continually unwilling. Some men go through the motions of counseling, yet in their heart they aren’t willing to humble themselves enough to seriously change. There's no relationship where someone refuses to address what you desperately need addressed.
I know! You're desperate!
Filing for divorce enters our mind once we fully awaken to the reality of our full-blown betrayal. From here, we're haunted as we picture the life our decision would bring...a broken family, estrangement with former friends, financial loss, moving, etc. Our minds can never quite sift through the worst case scenario of these outcomes. If they could, I'm convinced we would never have the strength to actually file for divorce.
Sisters, in most cases, this is not something we should ever have to do! Why should we be the ones to pull the trigger when we're the ones who have been willingly working to save the marriage? Why are the victims of betrayal the ones who end up filing for divorce most of the time? Shouldn't the filing come from the person who's NOT invested in fighting to save the marriage, and instead, is invested in infidelity? After all, their actions have long shown they are not interested in the marriage relationship. Why don't THEY file?
In my case, both my husband and his affair partner engaged emotionally then sexually for a couple years before we spouses found out. They were first caught by her husband and then several months later I finally found out. Neither one of them ever left each other and neither one of them filed for divorce. What makes betrayers like this leave the dirty work to the other spouse?
There's no one label for people who do this, other than they are incredibly unhealthy. It's a common pattern among passive aggressives, covert and overt narcissists, vacillators, manipulators, psychopaths, people pleasers, false believers etc...etc...etc...
And, there IS reason or motive involved! Though every situation varies, eventually you will pick up on WHY they do WHAT they do. Many husbands are buying time as they deviantly manipulate the finances for their benefit. These men are proud and entitled, and truly believe that they earned community money all by themselves. This shows how they selfishly viewed the marriage all along – as a sole proprietorship instead of a partnership.
Then there's the other woman. These women are incredibly needy to hang on to a married man. A woman can never let go of her familiar security, unless another man is bringing her the security she needs. Research shows that men spend their money where their heart is; where they receive accolades and sex. The beginning of 2 Timothy 3 explains the dynamics of these betrayers perfectly:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, not lovers of the good, treacherous, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible, weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
These secretive liars shamelessly continue their sequestered lifestyle, and begin making their rounds through family and friends. They admit to their affair as a "mistake", and then work their persuasive magic while injecting some blaming, shaming, and justifying. They portray sadness and sorrow, yet never repent or leave their life of sin. Slowly but surely, people rally around them, and we are left appearing like the cause of their "mistake" and the unwilling party.
In many Christian circles, the one who files for divorce is frowned upon, even when the betrayer has not repented. The lack of support from our family, friends, and church is secondary abuse and it brings us more trauma. The deep emotional pain of these added betrayals can be overwhelming and leave us feeling terrified and alone. We can be thankful to the Lord that He is The God Who Sees, and He sees so much more than the person signing on the dotted line to file the divorce.
Some women feel that their own trauma reactions shoot themselves in the foot. Whatever our betrayer carefully crafted to family and friends now seems confirmed when others experience moments of our trauma responses. What I love to say to women is, "BUT GOD"!
We've heard the verse a million times, "God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called..." (Romans 8:28) Well this is for you if you think you've helped your husband's case. God can even use our trauma to rid us of relationships He doesn't want for us. Be patient through the process, because He prepares the way for quality people to be introduced into our lives.
Our trauma is sometimes heightened when the aftermath of divorce becomes worse than we anticipated. We start to second guess our decision. When current trauma overtakes past trauma, we ruminate over shoulda, woulda, coulda... We forget past pain, and our current pain and fears are magnified.
Being in a support group is crucial while you're going through this. We need the voice of truth and reason speaking to us weekly, even daily. It's a struggle believing God when we see things getting worse instead of better. Just as when the disciples were on the boat with the Lord…
I walk with women through these times regularly, and without question, women feel like they're in a blinding windstorm they can't imagine will ever end or they’ll ever come out of in one piece. It does end! We do come out in one piece! And we emerge more whole than when we started, minus a bunch of people with their baggage.
A couple of things that are imperative to remember when you're tempted to try to defend your position with the family and friends who've been sucked in by your betrayer:
Of course there are so many other things to focus on, which God will continually reveal throughout your Bible study times and communing with the Lord, but when you can't recall much from your frazzled brain, recall and claim that God is with you and you only answer to Him.
Laura serves as the Executive Director on the board of HER. She is passionate about helping betrayed women who struggle emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially. She has been leading weekly marital betrayal support groups for several years. Currently, Laura connects with leaders, writers, and counselors, to unite the efforts of those who share a burden for betrayed women.
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