When a couple in crisis are walking through pornography, infidelity, or another form of sexual betrayal, it is like a bomb has been detonated and there is shrapnel everywhere. As a ministry leader and having a need to “protect” a couple in crisis, keeping a secret can be as deadly. Choosing a small and safe circle of people to walk with a couple in crisis will be a crucial part of their restoration process. If the struggler/cheater is in denial there may be may be additional deception making you and the betrayed spouse to feel crazy. It is criticall to make sure that the offended spouse does not get overlooked as time and energy is spent trying to help the offending spouse. Unfortunately, this happens all too often and the betrayed spouse can feel even more alone and isolated. It is super scary for her as her world has been disrupted, and trusting her spiritual leaders to walk her through this is an essential part of her recovery.
If a struggler/cheating spouse has a secret and you help keep the secret, you are not helping them, but only hurting them.
If we believe that “the truth sets us free” then we can trust that God is exposing and bringing things into the light. God is allowing this for the healing and sanctification for this couple in crisis. A wise counselor once said, “we are only as sick as the secrets we keep”. This is a messy process, and there will most likely be lots of tension for you in these early days.
Four years before my husband’s betrayal came to light, Tray lost his job because of his violation of the company’s Internet policy. Although he was fired, both of his bosses chose to help him keep the secret and did not tell me the real reason that he lost his job. I am not saying that Tray’s decisions would have had a different outcome if the truth had come out when he was fired, but as his wife, and finding out years later, this was a double-betrayal for me. Both of Tray’s bosses were friends and elders in the church, and although they thought they were protecting Tray’s secret, they were not helping him. Tray might have received help from the church at that time before his sin progressed. They also didn’t help me by keeping the truth from me. My church was always a safe place for me. When my husband “who was supposed to be safest for me” betrays me, and then church leaders do not step up and protect and create safety for someone walking through betrayal, it can feel like a double betrayal.
Where will a betrayed spouse go to for protection, for love, and support? Making sure that the spouse does not get overlooked as time and energy is spent trying to help the offending spouse. Unfortunately, this happens all too often and the betrayed spouse can feel even more alone and isolated. A counselor once said, “when a woman experiences betrayal by her spouse, it is as if she is in the ICU unit, and has to be cared for in this manner so that she can move through the trauma and begin to heal”.
So how can you help?
- Listen to this video from other Pastors/Ministry Leaders and be encouraged before starting this process.
- Ensure that the betrayed spouse feels heard and validated and that she knows about podcasts with Undone Redone specific with her situation that will help direct her through this process.
- UR 14: 5 Things Every Woman Should Know After Discovering Spouse’s Sexual Sin -Tray and Melody Lovvorn
- UR 24: There Is Life After Your Worst Day — Shelley Hendrix and Rebecca Halton
- UR 25: Understanding Sex Addiction — Becky Whitson, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
- UR 36: Surviving Infidelity — Brian and Jenni Clayville
- UR 39: Rebuilding Trust — Adam Calvert (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist)
- UR 40: Healthy Sexuality — Melea Stephens (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)
- UR 68: Life Beyond Betrayal — Melody Lovvorn
- Point her to Melody’s online healing program called Life Beyond Betrayal. (this will serve as an online daily program to help her through the emotions and move her toward healing and can be done in the comfort of her home).
- Help the struggler/cheater by pressing in and encouraging him/her to come clean. You will be helping both the spouse and the struggler/cheater and ultimately the body of Christ with the truth. This is messy and it usually gets worse before it gets better, however, it is the right decision to work toward restoration and reconciliation. We see many couples that have had church leadership walk through the process of restoration able to bounce back and recover from this, and in time, begin helping others walk through this difficult life experience in your church.
- Point the struggler/cheater to the following podcasts that will help bring him out of denial and into the truth of his situation.
- UR 66: Interview with Chris McAlister on Identity
- UR 31: Interview with Michael Warden on the Healing Process
- UR 18: Interview with author Michael John Cusick on our Deep Desires
- UR 38: Interview with John Lynch on The Room of Grace
- UR 39: Rebuilding Trust with Adam Calvert (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist)
- UR 17: Interview with Bob Flayhart on Transforming Power of the Gospel
- Book a Training for Church Staff: Messy Church: Creating a Culture of Healing Community. This is a 2 to 2 1/2 hour training that will equip church leadership to walk through the unique shame around helping those struggling with sexual brokenness and those impacted by betrayal within your congregation.
- Start a Christ-centered recovery group at your church for those dealing with sexual brokenness. Here is a video from other Pastors and Ministry Leaders. Our recovery ministry, Route1520, offers a comprehensive solution for churches called GroupNOW that provides the safe community where true healing can take place. Route1520 also helps establish recovery communities for women who have been betrayed as well.
- Continue to point them to the resources that will benefit them and help them most, even if you have to help them financially with some of these resources. A free resource that is full of great content that will offer tremendous perspective for both spouses is our weekly podcast called Undone Redone, that can be found by CLICKING HERE or on iTunes or Stitcher Radio.
- Refer the struggler/cheater to an intensive where he/she can get away to work specifically on the root issues that have been instrumental in the infidelity. Route1520’s EMBARK Men’s Recovery Intensive is a 4-day intensive held at beautiful Shocco Springs in Talladega, Alabama. This is critical to their recovery journey and will provide them a safe place and gospel community.
- Surround them with safe people.
A Safe Person is:
- Someone who is honest.
- Someone who is willing to earn trust, rather than demand
- Someone who can accept imperfections in others
- Someone who has grace for imperfections
- Someone who has endured pain themselves, but are recovering or have recovered, and can be empathetic to your pain
- Someone who can speak the truth to you in a loving way
- Someone who bears good fruit in your life… If you find you are becoming healthier and are encouraged to grow in your identity and independence and limits are respected, these are good qualities to look
- Someone who can be intimate, who knows the difference between intimacy and enmeshment.
- Someone who is loving and has a good reputation for being so over time. Watch their actions. Not just what they say.
- Someone who is not controlling
- Someone who views relationships equally, rather than a one-up, one-down perspective
- Someone who can confront gently, and with compassion