You’ve been betrayed.Your pain is real.You are not alone.
Women betrayed by their husband’s secret sexual behaviors experience symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder. She experiences powerlessness, intrusive thoughts and memories, and efforts to avoid triggers
associated with betrayal. She often becomes hyper-vigilant and begins checking computer histories, cell phones, and obsessing over ways to stop him from betraying her again.
The stress associated with discovering a husband’s secret sexual behavior will produce sleepless nights, food issues (both overeating and undereating), traumatic flashbacks, crying spells, and feelings of hopelessness. The physical exhaustion related to these stressors can cause a once perfectly healthy woman to feel completely overwhelmed with her daily routine.
Her husband’s healing won’t be enough to help her heal. She needs her own recovery. She doesn’t need to suffer from unresolved fears, doubts, resentment, anger, and grief. Her deepest pain comes from losing the security and trust in her marriage. We want to give her every opportunity to heal herself and her marriage, if she chooses. And, regardless of whether or not her marriage stays together, she can still heal her wounds.
Since emotional trauma impacts the body, women who make physical self-care a priority heal much faster from the impact of their husband’s secretive behaviors. Many women find that getting more sleep, eating healthy foods,
exercising, meditating, stretching, and slowing down to nurture their physical body can help them shift out of survival mode so they can think clearly.
Emotions are also strong early in this process and it’s important to have the freedom to express feelings in a healthy, non-aggressive way. Feelings come and go like the waves of the sea, so it’s important to give them full expression and movement. Holding onto any strong emotion with the hope that it will disappear only keeps it stuck.
It’s important to identify a few key individuals who: 1) will keep confidences, 2) can provide a safe place to talk, 3) won’t negatively judge her or her husband, and 4) can offer some support and direction.
There are many good resources available to help women understand what they’re experiencing. Education can help validate common feelings and clear up misconceptions about addiction and trauma. Women can learn practical skills about how to set boundaries, how to set up a self-care program, dealing with their traumatic emotions, and other ways to cope and heal.
In summary, her recovery begins with:
- Taking care of her body to reduce trauma (i.e., getting adequate sleep, exercising, eating healthy, etc).
- Expressing emotions through group or individual therapy, journaling, prayer, etc.
- Building relationships with others who understand what she’s going through and can offer support.
- Receiving further education
Virtually every betrayed woman we’ve worked with has experienced deep shame, embarrassment, and humiliation as a result of their husband’s secret sexual behaviors. It’s also common for women to suffer privately and become isolated from their support systems.
Lots of people believe that if a guy stops his addiction, then the problem is solved and his wife will stop hurting. It’s easy to see why one would believe this. If the behavior that is causing the pain goes away, then the pain goes away, right? Yes and no.
Yes, her pain will decrease as her husband stops his unhealthy sexual behaviors. However, this only temporarily stops future sexual betrayals. She still needs help healing what’s already happened to her. If women affected by their
husband’s pornography use don’t actively work to undo the effects his behavior has had on her life, she will continue to hang onto unresolved fear, doubt, resentment, anger, and grief.