There’s a journey I’ve traveled that I’ve been hesitant to share online. Why? Because it has been a brutal trip that drove me for a time into depression and despair. Not to mention I was ashamed and embarrassed.
It’s the emotional roller coaster you end up on when your spouse has been unfaithful. In one second the route you thought you were on vanishes and you end up at a cross road you don’t want to be at. Not only did I not want to be there, but I had three kids in the back seat along for the ride.
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It’s an odd and scary place to be on a journey when the other driver deviates from the agreed upon path. This changes the direction of your journey, whether you like it or not. All of a sudden you have no control of the navigation and instead find yourself in the middle of the wreckage, because that is all that is left on this trip.
This trip is over and now you remain behind to plan a new route. But which way do you go?
You may be wondering which way do you go, because you too are sitting in the middle of a wrecked situation.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which way to go. Oh, how I wish I could tell you.
I would gladly send you on the easiest path possible, because this is hard. It is going to be one of the hardest things you will ever go through.
All I can do is tell you want I did. I drove towards Jesus. I have been a Christian my whole life and I knew that even though I had no clue what to do, I couldn’t go wrong by just focusing on Him.
Should I Stay?
For many people, women especially, the desire to work things out is strong. I walked that path for a almost three years. I wondered:
- How am I going to be able to raise my kids alone?
- Am I going to be able to make enough money to survive?
- Are my kids going to go off the deep end if they become children of divorce?
- Am I going to have to move in with my parents?
- Will my spouse cheat again?
These questions initially made me stay.
It’s not you, it’s them.
I even thought that somehow I could be better. But I am going to tell you the truth about being married to someone who goes out seeking another person. It’s not you, it’s them. They have a problem and you cannot fix it for them. Sure, you can be nicer, thinner, prettier, a better cook, listen more, keep the house more tidy, step up your parenting, relieve them of some responsibilities around the house, get a better job to make more money, give them gifts and the list could go on and on. There are so many things you can do. But it won’t matter, because you are not the problem. So, above all you need to let yourself off the hook.
Do Not Feel Ashamed
You may also feel ashamed of what has happened. I know because I was so incredibly embarrassed and ashamed. (That’s why it’s taken me years to write about this.) But you need to remember that it is not your job to cover up someone else’s sin.
Letting God Work
In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul is in a grim situation and my situation was grim. Anyone dealing with infidelity is in a grim situation. But I knew that even though my spouse didn’t want me, God did. And even if my situation was a total and complete disaster God could make it better.
I am standing proof that God can take you beyond circumstances to a place you can’t even imagine. I had to trust that even though I didn’t know what to do, and had no direction and no plan, God did.
Now this was not easy or quick. I was totally stuck for about three years, which is not easy to admit, but it takes time to recover. Infidelity can stop you from experiencing what God has for you and that was definitely what happened to me.
Only God Says Who You Are – And it’s important to remember who God says you are, not what your unfaithful spouse says you are. People who are unfaithful will say all kinds of stuff about you to justify what they have done. This is one of the things I struggled against for a long time. I felt like I was the kind of person that couldn’t be worn down by words, but after awhile, even the strongest among us are torn down by words. At a friend’s recommendation, I attended a Heart Change workshop. I was given skills at this workshop to combat against the verbal and emotional abuse that I didn’t even realize yet that I had gone through.
Resources to Help You Make it Through This
I read a lot of books and got myself into a support group. I also relied heavily on my friends and family to give me strength. Many women are too ashamed to tell their friends what is going on, but I am telling you, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve done nothing wrong and you must talk to your family and friends. They will help you get through this!
I have included scriptures that helped me the most on graphics you can print out. I suggest taping up scriptures in places you look often. This way you can be constantly reminded. In case you want to look them up instead of printing them out, here is a list of them:
1 Peter 5:6-7
Here are some of the books I read that I found the most helpful. I read a ton of books.
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – Chances are that if your life has somehow ended up like mine your boundaries may not be very good. I am the last person I ever would have thought would have boundary issues, but this book was extremely eye opening. We often have terrible boundaries with the people we love the most.
Maturing in Christ by Murl Silvey – This author is brilliant. I know because he was my counselor. He is insightful in a different way and he helped me a great deal.
Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis by James Dobson – What you are facing is absolutely unacceptable and should not be lightly dismissed. I found this to be similar to the Boundaries book. If you can only afford one of them, get the other one. If you can afford several books, get this one too.
Changes That Heal – I read this so long ago, it would be hard to give a summary. I just know that it helped me see that things were not right. Often times when you are in the middle of a situation you cannot see it clearly. Have you ever wondered why things are so obvious from the outside looking in, but from the inside you just can’t see it?
Jesus Calling – This is a simple devotional that takes no brain cells to read and absorb. And when your mind has been blown and you are completely stressed out it becomes difficult to concentrate. Which means sometimes a simple half a page devotional like this is quite perfect.
Betrayal and Beyond Workbooks – If you want to attempt to work things out I recommend getting yourself into a Betrayal and Beyond support group. This is a religious-based support group for betrayed spouses, specifically for women that have had spouses cheat on them or are sex addicts. I went through an entire year of the program and it helped quite a bit.
I went back after a year and restarted, but realized quickly I had enough of dealing with a cheating spouse and was ready to get a divorce and move on with my life. I highly recommend going to something like this and going through the program as many times as it takes to get you stronger and feeling better.
I saw many betrayed women go through this program and manage to work through issues and go on to have happy marriages. I will say there were two differences between my situation and theirs. 1) Their spouse was sorry. My spouse was not sorry for having extramarital affairs, he was sorry he got caught. It is important to watch the actions and not just listen to the words. They may say they are sorry, but if they don’t act sorry they are not. 2) Their cheating spouse made a one time mistake. My spouse did this repeatedly. If your spouse is seeking people out and has done this more than once, I am sorry to say, but your marriage is most likely over. Keep in mind affair recovery is different for everyone.
Keep Your Love On: Connection Communication And Boundaries – This book opened my eyes to what love is and isn’t and what it should look like and what it shouldn’t. After I read a small portion of this book I was able to clearly see that what I have experienced is not love, it was never love and that I definitely needed to move on from the situation.
Heart Change Workshop – There are workshops in several states and if you can, I highly recommend attending one. You’ve been through hell and you deserve to be built back up. (I live not too far from one of the locations that offer this workshop. If you are a woman and cannot afford a hotel, please contact me. And I will make sure you have somewhere to stay.)
The Good News
I do have good news for you. I know the answers to the questions I found myself facing.
- You can raise children alone. You are enough and it turns out, kids are fine with having just one parent. You will likely be exhausted, so be sure to purposely include self-care for yourself in your life. And remember, your children are not your friends. You may be mad at your ex-spouse for a long time, but they are still your child’s parent. If you need to vent go to counseling or vent to your friends.
- So far, none of my children have gone off the deep end and my friend’s kids in similar situations, are fine too.
- Yes, you may have to move in with your parents. There is NO shame in this. You need to put yourself and your kids in the best possible situation and if that means moving in with your parents do it. Then be proud of yourself for doing so.
I hope that somehow, someway this helps you. I know that if you managed to find this article you are currently living a nightmare no one deserves, but it will get better, so much better. If you need someone to talk to you can find my email at the bottom of this site under contact me.
You are so wise. Your vulnerability is impressive. May God continue to bless you and keep you.
Thank you for sharing your story. Many women feel trapped and definitely feel it’s their fault that their spouse strayed outside the marriage. It’s hard but we are much stronger than we think + God will not foresake us. I’m glad you are rebuilding.
Wow Megan great article one I’m sure was hard to write but blesses others