Please Note: If you are reading this blog, it’s most likely because your husband has betrayed you sexually. And if that’s the case, I know that you are tremendously hurt. Words cannot describe the depth of pain and confusion a woman feels when her husband is ensnared by sexual sin. I know. I’ve been there. And in our pain, we feel justified to feel and act certain ways because of their sin. After all, our husbands sinned against us and broke their covenant with us and before God. I completely understand. But there is still hope.
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 that pain. For me, those struggles began well before my husband came to repentance. Feeling the effects of his sin without being fully aware of it, I found myself toppling head first into my sinful behaviors. Through my personal healing process, I have discovered that many women whose husband is ensnared by sexual immorality struggle with sins of hatred, wrath, bitterness, unforgiveness, malice, revenge, vengeance, anxiety and worry, and even sexual sins of her own. But God did not intend for marriage to be beset by sin and consumed with temptation, whether on the part of the husband or the wife. For the purpose of this blog, I’m strictly focusing on one temptation in particular: HATRED.
Sadly, I have to say that I surrendered to the temptation to hate my husband early in our healing process. Not all the time. But there were definitely moments where I felt nothing but hatred towards him. I struggled with hatred (as well as anger and bitterness that go hand-and-hand) after my husband’s sin was revealed. 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. 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, or 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 him. The Bible clearly shows us that hatred is a sin; it creates discord; it’s done by those who don’t know God and is inconsistent with His 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.”
Did you read that? The Bible not only says that hatred is a sin, that it causes more strife, that it is a fruit of our sin nature, but it also says we can’t love God with hatred towards our brother (or husband!). We can’t love God. Wow. As I began studying verses like these in the beginning stages of my healing, I wanted to feel justified in my hatred. I was tempted to blame my husband for my actions instead of taking responsibility for my own behavior. YES he did some really crappy things! YES he hurt me! YES my heart was broken! But did I have a choice in the way I responded? YES! I had to learn that I could choose to respond to my husband in love, even if I felt like he didn’t love me while he was in sin. That I could choose to respond in humility, knowing that he is a sinner in need of a Savior just as I am. That I could choose to respond with forgiveness, seeing his repentance and desire to pursue righteousness. Does that mean I did? More often than not, unfortunately, I chose to respond to him in hatred, pride, and wrath. Prolonging our pain and making our restoration and healing something harder to attain. Had I to start over again, I wish I would have fled the temptation to hate. Because I clung to my hatred and wrath (worthless idols), I forfeited grace. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). I look back at all the fights and sleepless nights that my hatred and wrath fueled and I can’t help but wonder how much better could it have been? How much sooner could I have forgiven him? How much easier could this process have been if I would have fled hatred and rested within God’s grace? If I would have clung to His steadfast love, knowing that He is sovereign over my husband and our marriage. God provides us with what we need to overcome any heartache. Including the pain of sexual betrayal. But when we allow hatred to consume our hearts, we forfeit the grace that could be ours in our greatest time of need for it!
So resist temptation and flee from hatred. When you feel that old hatred begin to rise up against your husband, remember Philippians 4:8 “… whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Change your mind. Literally. Change the way you think and meditate on the good things that you love about your husband. Reminisce on the good memories. Think about the changes he’s already made and his desire to pursue righteousness. And choose to respond in love, with humility and forgiveness. Rest in God’s grace and refuse to surrender peace in your heart to hatred.