How Do I Show My Betrayed Spouse That I Really Care?

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I was reading through many of my journal entries during the first year after discovery. I have several journals that are stuffed with scribbles, thoughts, and pages of raw and bloodied emotion. As I thumb through the hundreds of pages, I can see the narrative of God slowly eradicating my shame. When it came to my betrayed husband though, the theme of my writing seemed to revolve around a feeling of frustration and desperation.

Early on, I seemed obsessed with trying to ease his pain and fear by searching frantically for some way to show him I wouldn't hurt him again.

Pages were filled with repetitive questions and thoughts like:

How do I comfort him?
How do I enter into his pain?
It feels like there is a brick wall around his heart and I can't get through.
I feel so helpless and defeated.
I don't think we can do this.
I never see an end to this pain and heartache.
I hate myself for what I have done.
He will never forgive me.

Did you notice it? I couldn't see it then. Not only was I paranoid and desperate, everything was still mostly about me. It was all about what I needed to do or what I needed for my own relief from anxiety. Shame has a funny way of ALWAYS making it about ourselves. Unfortunately, no person is perfect and no recovery from infidelity is perfect. I know ours has looked much more like a toddler learning to walk than an eagle soaring, that's for sure.

Slowly, as I turned the journal pages encompassing months of recovery, I noticed a shift in perspective. The journal entries came more from a place of curiosity and concern. Less desperation. Less me. More God...

Help me God to endure and trust that You have this.
Help me to continue to offer tenderness and compassion for what I can't see or fully understand.
Help me view my marriage through the lens of forgiveness and the extreme cost of that forgiveness.
God, keep my focus only on You.
Please help my husband with his pain.
Show us a way.
Help me stay faithful to You.
Please give my husband all he needs today. You are his hope.

I really wish there was a simple way to prove to your spouse what is in your heart or make some kind of promise that you don't want to hurt them again. But there isn't. I wish I could tell you it won't take months or years for this to evolve, but I can't.

Reading back through my journals brings up a lot of emotion in me, but what rises to the top is the feeling of grace. I choose to have grace for myself for what I couldn't see then. If you are early on in recovery, you probably aren't where you want to be. But you know what? That's absolutely okay. You are probably doing the very best you can in light of what you've both been through. If you're not doing the best you can, why is that? Chances are you're still being deceptive or you may be afraid.

This sentence from the middle of my journal entries was highlighted and underscored:

"There is more grace in Christ than sin in you"
-Richard Dibs.

Then in a faint scribble beside it: do I really believe this?

Are we there yet?

No! We are still struggling, just like all of you. And I am still journaling. But like each page in these tattered journals, I will keep turning the page. The narrative is slowly changing and evolving as we keep discovering and learning.

Whatever you are doing to try to care for your injured spouse, keep doing it. Don't give up trying. You will muddle through it. You will make mistakes. You frankly won't be able to get through to them because it might not even be about you. But keep at it. Keep reaching out for every possible resource to help you. Consistency and endurance will be your new guides.

Today I will leave you with something from Leeann Payne in her book, Restoring the Christian Soul:

"There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. The hurt and pain, unbearable as it is and inescapable as it is, turn out to be a vital part of the healing. God, I know You feel the pain with me and I know it cannot destroy me."

What can you do today on your journey to healing? How can Affair Recovery support you in that path?

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Comments

Thank you for sharing! I've

Thank you for sharing! I've been reading your blog here since you started it and it's been very insightful and helpful. For those of us walking behind you on the path to recovery your descriptions of your journey are a ray of hope.

Well thanks! I appreciate

Well thanks! I appreciate your encouragement. I sometimes wonder and have self doubt, but I keep hearing God encourage all of us to USE this for good. And to let Him have the last word on my sin. Keep up the hard work as well.

You have real courage

I seem fixated on your posts. I cling to them as some sort of understanding for things. For words my wife can't or won't express. Thank you for sharing what some of us so desperately need to hear, but what must be frightening and painful to bring into the light.

Thank you for reminding me of

Thank you for reminding me of this. I relate very much to what "she can't or won't express". Pain and shame are funny things that keep us silent. I am glad to provide a connection into what so many of us must be experiencing.

You represent hope

Thank you for sharing your journal entries. There simply isn’t enough info from unfaithful women. We are 19 months since D day and I wish my wife had clarity and spoke of things like you do. There is such a difference between men/women that I find it hard to connect most articles with our situation. I have started sharing your posts with her in hopes she can relate. We still rarely discuss any of these, but my hope is that you strike a cord with her and she can let go of the fear and shame and take initiative in recovery. Thank you and God bless you both.

I wish I could come and give

I wish I could come and give your wife a hug and sit with her and drink some coffee. I don't know how much shame is still lingering in her or your life, but it does take a long time to get rid of it. Thanks for writing, and I'm sorry there isn't a lot more information that relates to ya'lls particular situation, but we will keep doing our best to help everyone feel like their story has a voice.

I wish too

I too wish you could talk to her. Today marks 619 days since D day 1. Just a few days ago we had a heated argument and again I asked her to please find an IC to start the recovery process. I started with a new IC 4 weeks ago. I received the same response that there is never enough time. She’s too busy. Too busy to save our relationship, marriage and family. At what point does one give up and move on? You said it takes a long time to get rid of the shame. What would have got your attention and made you realize it’s time to get help? I fear I’m reaching the point of no return.

I wish I could wave a wand

I wish I could wave a wand and give you some answers. And I wish I could tell you what makes someone come out of their selfishness, sin and fog. For me it was fear, denial, and just a basic distance from intimacy. I knew I needed help when I realized I could lose my marriage, my kids, and our home. As soon as I realized it was a very real possibility that I could be a single mom in an apartment (I realized the affair wasn't that serious and my AP would never leave his wife), I knew I had to do everything to change. It was a drastic wake up call. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I want to do anything to never go back to that. I'm sorry for ya'll's pain. I hope clarity comes soon.

thank you for your blog

Being that you are a woman and the betrayer is why I subscribed to this program. It is hard to find information and support being the woman betrayer. 8 months after "d day" and I am the woman and unfaithful. I am struggling to keep focused on caring for my husband first, instead of getting wrapped up in my fears and guilt. This post really, really helped me today after he left me a horrible and painful letter this morning before leaving for work. I am sure I will turn to your post again when I become too self focused on the suffering we are going through. At times I feel like I'm wearing a Scarlet letter, and that I will always walk with my head hung in shame, and sometimes have the urge to run away rather than having the faith to stick through all this. I do have hope, and I do believe he and we are worth staying together. His pain and suffering is so much more than mine and I need to stay compassionate. thank you for sharing and being so open. It really, really helps.

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