To be betrayed by your spouse or partner is excruciating.
There is no reason to pretend otherwise.
If you are currently in this kind of pain, please don’t feel you have to deny it or “get over it.” You are well within your rights to hurt, to feel it deeply, and to cry out to God for comfort.
The vows you took were binding. They knit your hearts together with threads of attraction, love, promise, and trust. You were one. Thus, your heart isn’t simply broken. It’s torn.
And a torn heart is not easily mended. The sutures you’ll need for the repair will have to be methodical and deliberate. A process—rather than a superglue quick-fix miracle.
Sometimes you’ll feel pain, sometimes you’ll feel numb, and some days you’ll weep at your scars.
But if you can, try to breathe through your pain and remember something important. God is with you and he knows betrayal very well.
And he does have a plan. With help, you can get your pain in hand. Eventually, with the support of your faith and a counselor, you can catch your breath and find relief.
You’ve likely been living with so much anxiety and upset that physical pain, too, may accompany your emotional distress. When will such pain ease?
If you want a concrete timeline, you may be disappointed. Think instead in terms of stages and degrees of commitment to the process.
The Agony of the Affair and Disclosure Stage
Pain at this point is raw and rife with emotional instability and disbelief. You may find yourselves stuck here, reeling for days or weeks, depending on the level of awareness that something was amiss and how the affair was revealed.
This kind of pain, thank God, generally doesn’t last for long in the scheme of things. Our minds and bodies can’t sustain it. You want answers and must move past this type of hurt to seek them out.
The Ache of the Rebuilding Stage
You’re in sharing mode at this point. If you and your spouse have decided to recover together, the emotional safety you’re scrambling to reestablish can be painful in a different way. There is crucial sharing and vital admissions to make.
Compare the process to the pain of a bright light being shone directly in your eyes after hours in a dark room. Truth is revealed time and time again as you begin to explore how you got into such a dark place to begin with. Reality can sting and bite as you try to grasp the damage your resentments and assumptions have done.
Candor and the facts of the affair will be unpleasant.
As you work your way back to faithfulness and authenticity Bible verses may prick sore spots. Humble prayer may be difficult to do together, at first. Trust may be a tender and sore spot as you try to explore the “whys” of your disconnect and grieve what you’ve lost.
Still, if you are both willing to endure the steps—several months of honest work with a therapist, re-commitment to each other, and wholehearted dedication to the biblical mandates for marriage—humiliation may become less debilitating as understanding and channels of truthful communication reopen.
At this point, repentance should be plain and commitment clear.
If you do the work your counselor encourages you to embrace and live by your faith, your relationship can start to feel hopeful again. The pain will likely remain, but God’s mercy and comfort will start to ease the hurt. The ache of grief may be more tolerable than the bite of betrayal.
The Release Stage and Growing Pains
This stage is often characterized by a longer period, maybe even a year’s time. Forgiveness and healing begin making real, solid reconciliation possible.
As you work on healthy communication, slowly and surely, pain and the betrayal are no longer the central emotional experiences of your relationship. Compassion and grace apply layer after layer of hope and possibility over the scars. Soothing the pain when it flares up and restoring flexibility and confidence to your relationship.
You can both work diligently to rebuild and actively let go of the past, the patterns, and the pain. You can both submit willingly to higher standards of love and respectfully let God resurrect what once seemed irreconcilable.
Your pursuit of healing—and the God who delivers it—will ultimately soothe the pain and use it for your good. It will take time. But He will give you the guidance and tools to stitch your hearts back together.
Your responsibility is to accept the help you need and stay committed to the operation. The pain you feel at this point is comparable to the prickly feeling in your hand when you’ve gripped something too long and finally decide to release it. The twinges you feel come with learning to deal with discomfort and conflict well, growing together to establish healthier, deeper roots.
Which leads us to the final stage.
Relief, Renewal, and Moving Forward
Though your spouse’s actions may have left you feeling the loneliest and most rejected you’ve ever felt, it may be that you have been given something very sweet: A chance to put your relationship, your past, and your pain in God’s hands. To seek help. To recover completely.
As you deal with the reality of the affair, you can stop suspecting, worrying, and waiting for shoes to drop. You can get on with the business of marriage instead of living in limbo, the uncertainty of doubt, or a perpetual drifting apart.
When recovery is working, your counselor will have few qualms about your communication together. You and your spouse will have the tools to move on. And when you struggle, you’ll have an ally to seek out if you need help reconnecting down the line.
In time, you can end the pain of the affair. A desire for truth and grace brings hope and peace.
Keep in mind that You and your partner have the authority to seek new meaning, to define yourselves by God’s truth, grace, and mercy. With the help of faith-based therapy, you can find the strength to endure and overcome infidelity.
Find your significance and approval in God’s eyes and each other again. You can recover. You can heal.
I can help you end the pain and receive the hope and promise God wants for you. Don’t suffer the pain of inaction any longer. Let’s do this together. Please reach out today.
For more information about marriage or couples counseling, click here.
About the Author
Julia Nelson, LPCA, LMFTA is a psychotherapist and owns a private practice in Flat Rock and Forest City, NC. In general, she specializes in couples counseling, anxiety and depression counseling, premarital counseling, and parenting classes. She is also a Certified Clinical Military Counselor. To find out more about Julia click here: Nelson Christian Counseling.
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