After my husband confessed his sexual betrayal, I felt as if I were living in a blackout. My first response was to sit in a corner and cry. I was constantly on edge even in my own house, as if any step might bring a new stab of pain.
I wished desperately to go back to the way things were before the lights went out. Some days I lashed out at anything or anyone who got too close — even God. Why hadn’t He protected me? Why had He let me marry this man? Why?
But I couldn’t begin the journey to hope and healing by sitting in a dark corner. I prayed for the lights to come back on. Slowly, I began to realize that although the glow that once lit my home was gone, God — the true Light — was not. I had to believe that God was working through my darkness.
The first mile marker on the journey to healing was the realization that God was whispering in the darkness, inviting me to let Him work in the midst of my pain. The first glimmers of hope came as the Lord assured me of His presence, that I was not alone. He sent people to speak truth to me, and His Word encouraged me.
Forming new habits
Step one got me moving out of the darkness, but many hurdles lay ahead. I had to sift through a lifetime of bad habits. This was a tedious process, one I still find myself struggling with when pain returns.
One of the first habits to go was my tendency to make excuses for my husband’s poor behavior. I thought I was extending grace, but in reality I was enabling him to remain in unhealthy patterns. For example, after my husband and I had a conflict, I would say things like, “He didn’t know what he was doing.” or “The injury wasn’t intentional.” God showed me these statements were not true grace; they were minimizing what had happened and cost me my voice while enabling my husband’s poor care of me to continue.
Creating new habits took time. I had to learn God’s rules for healthy living and put them into practice. The lies that had guided my life for years felt like truth to me. They were even clothed in what I thought were good intentions. I asked the Lord to reveal His truth and shine His light on my self-deceptions. Only then could they be replaced.
The second mile marker came when I realized how my own actions and choices contributed to my emotional pain. I knew I was not at fault for the choices my husband made, and it would have been easy to think of myself as an innocent victim. But God gently showed me that though I was not responsible for others’ choices, I was responsible for my reactions. I, too, had a sin nature to deal with. To claim total innocence would be to miss the work God wanted to do in me. Just as my husband could not blame me for his choices, I could not excuse my bitter and judgmental thoughts because of what he had done. We are all broken and in need of a Savior.
I learned this the hard way. At a support group for wives of sex addicts, I made a joke, saying, “I wish I had married a sinner like me.” We all laughed because compared to the choices our husbands had made, we didn’t look so bad. Later, I sensed the Lord say to me, “You know those ‘little’ sins of yours? They cost the same precious blood from My Son as your husband’s sins.” My heart broke. There are no big or little sinners, just a world of broken people in need of Christ’s healing.
Helping others on the journey
I reached a third milestone when I began looking back on the path I had walked with God. Praising Him for the journey led me into deeper relationship with Him — and then I saw something else. All around me, other women were sitting, hiding or crying in the darkness. I could not keep moving forward without extending a hand to those desperate for hope. God had not brought me out of the darkness just for my own sake. Over time and after gaining stability, He called me to write out a road map for others to follow.
I am often asked why I stay and minister in the shadows of sexual addiction. There are times when I wonder, Am I done yet? And then a woman writes or calls me, and I hear her pain. All I can do is tell her what the Lord has done for me and remind her that He can do the same, and more, for her. To see the darkness of betrayal pierced by the light of His truth is a great gift. And it’s an incredible honor to give the comfort I’ve received to those who are hurting. I offer women a marker, a place to begin their journey toward hope and healing.
I’ve reached a new milestone recently: looking for more markers. I seek out those whose walk with the Lord I admire, people who are honest and transparent about their struggles, who are brave and willing to point out a dark spot in my life. I look for safe people who point me to the truth. Just as I seek to help others on the journey behind me, I’ve learned to keep my eyes on those ahead to show me the way toward the Truth and the Light, Jesus Christ.
Meg Wilson is the founder of Hope After Betrayal Ministries, a nonprofit named for her book of the same name.