A lot of women find themselves stumbling into sin while their husband struggles with sexual immorality. The effects of a husband’s sexual sin and the repercussions that follow repentance can throw a wife into her own spiral of sin and shame. Typically, recovery resources focus on dealing with the pain of the betrayal but neglect to address the sin that can arise when a wife is in the midst of the pain. For me, iniquity began well before my husband had his crisis of truth. Feeling the effects of his sin without knowing the root of his struggle, I found myself toppling head first into my own struggles. Through my personal healing process, I have discovered that many women whose husband is ensnared by sexual immorality struggle with sins of wrath, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, malice, revenge, vengeance, anxiety and worry, and even sexual sins of her own. A lack of faith and an outpouring of painful emotions can lead women down a dangerous path; however God did not intend for marriage to be beset by sin, whether on the part of the husband or the wife. So let’s break down these sins, find the root cause, and learn how we can be consecrated to the Lord as we work through our healing and help our husbands pursue sexual purity. As we go through these sins, please bear with me. I know that we’ve all been hurt tremendously and in our human nature, we feel justified to feel and act in certain ways. After all, our husband’s sinned against us and broke their covenant with us and before God. I completely understand. I’ve been there (still am there occasionally). But keep reading. There is hope.
Hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, outbursts of wrath,
These are the big ones, the most common among hurting women. Sadly, I can place myself into this category. I have struggled immensely with these particular sins in my life since my husband’s sin was revealed. Let’s define each one and see what God’s Word has to tell us about these sins.
· Hatred is an “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury” (Merriam-Webster). By this definition alone, I believe every betrayed woman has felt this towards her husband at some point in her walk towards freedom, especially in the early stages of healing. An example of hatred towards your husband would be if you’ve felt repulsed by him emotionally or sexually, if you’ve acted aggressive towards him, if you’ve withheld affection or love and have lost feelings of fondness for him. In my personal walk towards freedom, I know there were times when I just could not stand to be around my husband. The pain was so great in the beginning; I couldn’t even look him in the eye. I was expressing hatred, or intense aversion, towards my husband. The Bible clearly shows us that hatred is a sin; it creates discord, it is done by those who don’t know God, and is inconsistent with God’s love.
Leviticus 19:17 "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.”
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
Titus 3:3 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
· Bitterness and unforgiveness go hand-in-hand with hatred. If you’ve fallen into hatred, you most likely have bitterness in your heart and are struggling to forgive your husband. Bitterness is “marked by intensity or severity, accompanied by severe pain or suffering… exhibiting intense animosity, harshly reproachful, marked by cynicism and rancor” (Merriam-Webster). Wow. Bitterness is hatred in full force. Bitterness is what breeds the inability to forgive. If you’ve allowed your heart to cultivate bitterness towards your husband, you may discover that you are very critical of him, cynicism or skepticism of his repentance is growing, you find yourself questioning everything, never giving him an ounce of credit (I know, I know, it’s hard when he’s lied and betrayed you!), and you may even find that you treat him harshly and judgmentally. What I’ve found in Scripture is that God doesn’t say to forgive others and get rid of bitterness except in the case where your husband sinned against you. No, God’s Word tells us to forgive. To get rid of bitterness. No matter how we’ve been sinned against. Gulp! That’s me swallowing a big helping of hypocrisy. I certainly held bitterness in my heart towards my husband and had a terrible time forgiving him. I was a wreck. I constantly questioned him, I was cynical about his repentance, whether he was really telling the truth, speaking to him harshly, judging his every motive, word, and deed. It was a very low point in my life. I had allowed bitterness to consume my precious heart and it was killing my love for my husband.
Proverbs 19:11 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." - Jesus
Luke 17:3-4 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."- Jesus
Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” - Jesus
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’
· Outbursts of wrath is the area I struggle the most. I am getting better through counseling, prayer, and the realization that I do actually have some self-control! But for me, this was the big one. I was so hurt and angry about what my husband had done that I would fly-off-the-handle for just about anything. Big or small, the size of the problem didn’t matter. If my husband was involved, it always came back to the betrayal. I remember a very specific incident where I had folded the laundry but had not put it away yet. My son (2 years old) walked over and knocked down one of my nicely folded stacks of clothes. I got mad and my husband says to me in a very calm tone, “Well this probably isn’t the best place to keep the laundry.” I lost it. And about half-way through my explosion of yelling and crying, I was taken back to his addiction to pornography and I realized that I needed help. I wasn’t mad about the laundry. It was the message behind it. My husband’s comment made me feel like he thought I wasn’t a good wife. I was reminded of the pain I felt when I discovered his sexual sins and that he must have thought I wasn’t a good wife all along or he wouldn’t have sought satisfaction elsewhere. It wasn’t about the laundry anymore; it was about the lies I believed from the messages I received when my husband betrayed me. This is typically why we have outbursts of wrath. Not because we’re really mad about running out of gas, cleaning up messes, losing things or whatever sparks our anger in that moment. It’s because of a deeper wound that we are not dealing with in a godly way. But there is hope. God does give us self-control through His Holy Spirit and we have the ability to be angry and sin not.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.”
Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 25:28 “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
Proverbs 30:33 “For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.”
Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
James 1:19-20 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Malice, revenge, and vengeance are all forms of payback. “A desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another…to retaliate in kind or degree…punishment inflicted in reprisal for an injury or offense” (Merriam-Webster). I have not personally struggled with malice, revenge, or vengeance, but I know they are common among women who’ve experienced this level of pain. Examples of these sins run the gamut in a marriage that has been poisoned by sexual immorality. I have heard of everything from a wife criticizing her husband to their children and friends, throwing his sin in his face at every turn, openly flirting and seeking the attention of other men, condemning him publicly on social networking sites, and even committing adultery as pay-back. These are all sinful in deed and only work to bring more destruction to a marriage. Malice, revenge, and vengeance, though seemingly justified, prove to obliterate the possibility of finding healing and restoration.
Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” - Jesus
Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord’."
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
1 Corinthians 14:20 “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
Colossians 3:8 “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
1 Peter 2:1-2 “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Anxiety and worry are more subtle sins that we tend to think are “normal” or unavoidable. Anxiety and worry are just part of who we are as women, right? It’s a motherly instinct! On the contrary, God is opposed to anxiety and worry. And let’s just call it what it is… fear. God very adamantly speaks against living in fear because it shows a lack of trust in Him. When we are afraid, regardless of whether it stems from our husband’s sexual sin, we are sinning. I always tell my kids that if God tells you not to do something and you do it anyway, that’s a sin. God clearly tells us in Scripture not to be anxious, not to worry, have no fear, yet we do. That’s a sin. For women like me whose husband is recovering from sexual sin, it’s almost normal for us to be “waiting for the proverbial ball to drop.” I remember in the early stages of our healing process, I was sick to my stomach with fear. Although my husband had been repentant and was walking in freedom from sexual sin, I was constantly afraid that he was going to fall again. At one point I told my husband, “I know it doesn’t make sense, but I’m so I’m terrified that if you accidentally see even just a glimpse of the female body on a billboard or a TV commercial, that you’re going to be hooked again!” One of our good friends who has been sexually sober for several years, once told my husband that men are all just one step away from disaster. And I took that to heart, believing that my husband at any given moment was going to step right back into that pit of destruction.
Instead of trusting God that He is able to uphold my husband, that He has begun a good work in him and is able to complete it, instead of trusting that my husband was repentant and allowing God to sanctify him, I took it upon myself to be anxious and worry. I was on his case about everything, even insignificant things. I felt like I had to control him to ease my fears. It was sinful, it wasn’t glorifying to God, and it certainly didn’t yield unity in our marriage. Thankfully, through my husband’s compassion, his loving willingness to be scrutinized, and through the Word of God revealing to me my sin, we have come to a place in our marriage where this is not an issue. I trust God to work in my husband’s life and I trust my husband is diligently seeking purity. And if a day comes where the latter is no longer true, I will choose to trust God still.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 5:7 “…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - Jesus
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Hebrews 13:6 “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me’?"
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Sexual sins… wait… we’re talking about the wives, right?? Yes, it’s true. Many wives find themselves stumbling into sexual sins as a result of their husband’s sexual immorality. Sexual sin in wives can arise even before the crisis of truth, when you are confused by her husband’s seeming to reject you, and you feel lonely because your husband doesn’t notice you anymore. Sexual sin can arise after the crisis of truth when the wife’s understanding of sexuality and what pleases her husband are muddled with depravity. You may find yourself being disgusted by your husband or expressing your pain through malice and revenge. Sexual sin on the part of the wife can include but is not limited to:
· Engaging in sexual fantasies of men other than her husband
· Reading erotic romance novels or watching sexually saturated TV/movies
· Dressing immodestly to attract attention from men other than her husband
· Flirting with men other than her husband
· Withholding sex from her husband
· Using sex as a weapon or bargaining tool with her husband
A wife who has been betrayed sexually may feel completely justified in behaving in these ways. After all, your husband defiled the marriage bed! Why should you seek to maintain purity in the home when your husband blatantly trampled all over the marriage covenant? God did not intend for sexually intimacy to be fueled by sin, negative emotions, or agony. Sex was intended for a husband and wife to share as a gift, to enjoy each other’s bodies and to bring precious unity between them. Depending on where you are in the healing process, this may be a foreign concept. But trust me; there is hope for sex after betrayal. In the meantime, wives must exhibit self-control and mercy.
When you are feeling alone and confused, go to God, not to guys. Women often find validation from sexual relationships and trade self-control for seduction. The truth is, our validation comes from Christ alone. No matter how unattractive or sad you may feel as a result of your husband’s sin, Jesus sees you as His beautiful princess. God has given everyone the ability to control their body and mind. You must be diligent in keeping your heart stayed on Christ and your sexual desires stayed on your husband.
Also, mercy can be a powerful tool. You may be thinking “You want me to show mercy to a man who chose to betray me in the worst imaginable way!?” Well, God does. If you can keep a mindset of mercy, you will be less likely to seek vengeance by acting out sexually. Showing him mercy will only draw him to you as he works through the healing process. (My husband might have more to say about that in a minute).
Sexual sin isn’t just a guy’s struggle. And contrary to what we want to believe, Scripture against sexual sin does not only apply to men. All Scripture is good and profitable and, in most cases, it can apply to both males and females. Some Scripture is specifically addressing the husband or the wife, but generally, biblical principles are gender neutral.
Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Proverbs 5:18-19 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
1 Corinthians 6:13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food"—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”
Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..."
1 Corinthians 7:2-5 “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
1 Corinthians 6:15 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!”
Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
So where does all this leave us? Are we supposed to just look away or turn a blind eye to our husband’s sin? Are we supposed to push all our pain way down deep and never speak of it? Should we just suffer in silence? Absolutely not. Sexual betrayal is very painful. The feelings of hurt, anger, inadequacy, guilt, shame, doubt, and more can sometimes feel unbearable. But God has given us the fruit of His Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control – and we have the ability, through Christ alone, to approach our husband’s sin and deal with our pain in a godly way. It doesn’t have to cause us to sin. We have a choice. I will be the first to admit that I failed, often, in the first few months. And there are still days here or there where I allow my flesh to rule. But more often than not, I am finding that my husband’s response to me is so much sweeter when I am exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit and controlling myself. When I choose to act in a godly way, the result is amazing. My husband and I are connected in a way I never knew was possible. A connection that would have been stifled if I had chosen to continue in my sin.
Walking in Freedom,
I asked Kristina if I could say a word to the guys out there who may be reading this, because if we are not careful we can take this blog post completely wrong and actually abuse the Biblical principles expressed here. As men who have committed sexual sin and who have betrayed our wives, we better get used to the taste of humble pie because we will be dining on it quite often. It is only natural for a woman to feel these things discussed: anger, betrayal, revenge-seeking, bitterness and unforgiveness, especially early on in the recovery process. And when your wife is laying into you about your past for the umpteenth time, what do you have the right to say? Not a damn thing. You did this to her. You caused her to feel this way. You made your bed and now you have to sleep in it. Over time, sometimes a long time, once your wife sees your progress, sees your commitment to sexual sobriety and to her, sees you doing the things that you need to do, she will begin to exhibit the Biblical principles that were expressed in this blog post. And that is a wonderful time. You will feel connected and more in love with your wife than ever before. But until that time, don’t you dare shove the Bible in your wife’s face. “You’re not supposed to show anger towards me, the Bible says so!” How dare we say those things? Where was our Biblical integrity when we were committing our sin? We are quick to forget the pain we caused our wife and are quick to point out where she is failing. That is not the thing to do. So let me encourage you, get ready for a lot of humble pie, get used to saying, “I know, Baby. You are right and I am so sorry,” because that will be part of your everyday vernacular. And, eventually, once you have gotten down the road in your recovery, you and your wife will begin to work on the principles expressed above. I’m proud of you for getting this far and I’m standing beside you.
On Victory’s Side,
Tags: sin ""stumbling block"" hatred malice bitterness unforgiveness anxiety worry ""sexual sin"" recovery healing
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