Why the Unfaithful Fear the Betrayed

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To betrayed spouses everywhere: other than the obvious apology that is owed to you for the injustice thrown upon you due to infidelity, I have yet another confession to offer to you.

I am embarrassed to say how deep my fears, insecurities and shame have reached. For much of my recovery (for most of the first year anyway), I have been afraid of you. I have feared your pain, your emotion, your comments and your rawness of emotion. I know this because I have feared it in my own home, with my own husband. I know it isn't a rational fear and might not even make much sense to you. Even deeper still, I think I have feared your consistency, your values, your ability to handle life so differently than I have and that you will judge me for it.

If you're the unfaithful, it seems there's a giant neon sign alerting everyone that something is very wrong in the marriage and that problem is most definitely you. You know the saying. Shallow people cheat with other shallow people. So then you begin to work really hard at changing you. And while you desperately want to speed up the process, you can't. So then you question almost everything. Which doesn't exactly scream authentic or genuine. And it for sure doesn't allow for the betrayed to come first.

Which really stinks.

When my husband most desperately needed me to understand him and move in close, I have stayed away in fear. The longer I sit with it, it runs even deeper still. When he has needed me to just sit and listen and not say or do anything, I have avoided eye contact and shut down. I think I deeply fear the same thing he fears; the thought if we'll ever be able to make it. Can we ever be in a place of acceptance with our shattered marriage? What does that even mean?

I am so tired of fear.

I remember when we first went to EMS Weekend and I was one of three other women in the room that admitted I was unfaithful. Coming clean to a room full of entire strangers at the time was gut wrenching enough, but the fact that I was a woman and the minority was an added dose of shame. Humans are pack animals and we do tend to find safety in numbers, whatever the situation. Like me, I don't think anyone goes to EMS weekend packing the best version of themselves. For one, I was an emotional wreck. I was still lying; it took me an additional five weeks after EMS to get all of the details out because I was insistent upon editing my own story to make it "seem" better. As someone who had lived most of their life consumed with the image of me. . . this felt like suicide. I honestly remember thinking Rick Reynolds and his staff surely had a can of red paint and a paint brush hidden somewhere and were secretly waiting to come out and write profanities across my chest right then and there. Can you hear the irrational fear running through my veins?

Here is what I discovered. I fear what I don't know. I have always kept everyone at arm's length. For most of my life I have mastered the ability to let people come close enough to me to see "just enough" but not too much. And my fear of the betrayed has been exactly that. To the extent I am willing to enter in and get close to the pain, the less I fear and I just simply feel an ache. There has never been one single betrayed spouse I have encountered that has ever been anything short of kind. Are they hurting? Of course. Devastated? Yes. I think it wise to be careful not to judge someone's character by the pain they are in.

As our hearts heal and the pieces slowly start to come together, we see our brokenness for the common good. As I become stronger, I realize the person actually holding the can of red paint has been me. No one else has been out to get me as much as I have.

If your betrayed spouse is angry, shut down, ticked off, hysterical, weepy, incorrigible, relentless, or even gone. . . I can promise you they are in immense pain. Our actions cut to the core of that pain. For me to be in a state of mind that I would give my time, my flirtation, my words, my attention, and my body to another human required me to cut my husband completely off and out of my mind. A wound and cut so severe does not come without agony and years of healing.

Betrayed spouses, I am really sorry I haven't seen you. I am sorry that my own fear of your pain and judgement has gotten in the way for what you really needed. I see this so much in my own marriage. We finally gained so much momentum when I was healed enough to get out of my own DANG way!

The prophet Isaiah gives a pretty amazing reminder of both truth and grace:

"He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope. He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged. He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth."

Unfaithful: please do not be crushed. If Christ himself doesn't wish to stomp us out when we are weak, our betrayed spouses won't either. They just need us to come clean and change our lives.

Betrayed: justice and truth matter, and will prevail. I humbly hope you can hold onto that promise, in spite of your hurt.

Betrayed spouses represent such an incredibly beautiful picture of the justice needed in a successful marriage. My need for forgiveness reminds me of a constant dripping flow of grace that I never want to live beyond the shadow of. In that shadow of grace, there is no fear.

Frederick Beuchner said that Christ is the fullest picture of justice and mercy. He continues by saying"

"He that will judge us most finally is the one who loves us most fully."

Today, I rest in that and hope you can too.
Elizabeth

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Fear sucks

Seems to run on both sides of the event. While the unfaithful fear the betrayed and thier pain, the betrayed can fear letting the unfaithful see it because of the reaction it can produce. It is contrary to what we need and want. Almost like it's better to hide the pain than let her see it and withdrawal. Hiding it can hurt less. It also makes me feel bad for not being stronger of mind. But when the reaction is one that leans in.. .. let's just say I'm proud of the fight I see in my wife. She may withdrawal a bit still, but she certainly keeps leaning in.

Thanks for your comments and

Thanks for your comments and perspective. I am sure it is so scary on both sides and I am glad to hear the dialogue and voices that happen in all of our heads as we try to share and be vulnerable. You are right though....sometimes it does feel like it is better to keep the pain in and I'm sorry we withdraw sometimes. I know that's not what you need.

Elizabeth,

Elizabeth,

Thank you for your vulnerability and willing to look into those scary places within yourself. This is a beautiful article!

You are welcome. I am scared

You are welcome. I am scared a lot of the time and feel quite vulnerable every time I write and share. I only know I refuse to ever be the plastic, pretend-to-have-it-all-together, unfaithful girl I used to be. Thanks for the encouragement and I love your user name btw!

Thankyou so much for this HONEST Blog

I am the betrayed and everything you said is true! Somethings you said we said between us this morning! Please keep blogging in Peace 💜💔💜

Thank you for reading and for

Thank you for reading and for the encouragement. It really means a lot to me. I am happy to hear that it sounds like good dialogue is happening in yall's recovery.

Elizabeth,

Elizabeth,
As an unfaithful spouse you are so right. Shallow people cheat with shallow people. You have me to a “T” and the AP even more!!
Last night I came clean with more of my sordid past including the porn and my disgusting actions along with my affair.
I am pretty sure my wife is gone for good and that is OK cause she deserves far better than what I have done in our marriage and to her.
You are right the fear is immense and coming clean is hard. But it is the right thing to do.
The betrayed have a RIGHT to know all the facts so they can make an informed decision. The hiding was just making me even worse for her and us than you can imagine.
I thought that I wouldnt live through the truth. Fact is it doesnt hurt as bad as hiding in the dark. Even with the consequences.
Thank you again.

I am really glad you decided

I am really glad you decided to come clean and I hope you have reached full disclosure. That is the start to becoming a person you want to be. Your wife will be in pain for a long time, and in the meantime I hope you will consider the HFH course. Thanks for commenting and keep remembering that you are worthy, despite all you've done. Best to you as you walk forward.

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