Surviving AdulteryQUESTION: Surviving Adultery - What is the Emotional Impact?ANSWER:
As I sat across from her, the pain in her eyes told of the impact that surviving adultery was having on her. She was devastated. She was so young -- in her early twenties -- with a toddler by her side. She wasn't angry (yet). She was still in the numb, disbelieving phase known as "shock." She loved him! She thought he loved her. She felt shattered. How can she stand when her world has just collapsed under her feet?
She fondled the golden hair of their daughter beside her. Through tears she told her story, "I don't understand. I keep thinking this is just some horrible dream and I'll be waking up soon. Then I'll roll over in bed and hug Nathan. But I'm not going to be waking up, am I?"
As I listened, I learned a few things about her:
- Her husband had committed adultery. Stab!
- The woman he committed adultery with was her best friend. Stab, stab!
- He wasn't sorry. He wasn't seeking her forgiveness. Slash!
- He wanted out of the marriage! He "needed" his freedom. Slash! Stab!
- She had just learned she was pregnant - And alone!
- He was angry because now he might have to support 2 children. Stab!
She walked into my office a wounded lamb; broken, breaking still. My task was to help her pick up all the pieces and become a survivor: From a victim of sacred broken vows to a survivor of adultery. Survival was going to take all the power she could find. This would require that she discover some strength to fight her way to the goal. We weren't working on a goal of happiness or joy. We were at the most basic need a human can have: The goal of survival. It was important for her, for her daughter, and for the child she carried. The price of not reaching this goal was too costly.
Not every one in her position learns healthy ways to cope and go on successfully. What inner strength could I uncover in her that we could draw from?
In many ways, losing a mate to another is harder than loosing them to death. A widow is allowed to grieve, knowing death snatched her love away. There are ceremonies, comforters, and understanding. But this! He wasn't snatched out of her arms. No, he had walked away as one might walk away from a job, because he had found a better one. She felt deficient, inadequate, and lacking in her womanhood in some way she could not discern. She recalled the words they both had uttered, ". . .till death do us part."
In our sessions, she tapped into her faith. She began to see herself, not as alone, but as a lamb in the presence of her Shepherd. God always kept His promises. One was especially healing. "Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). And He ministered to her and brought healing. An adultery survivor? Indeed! She was loved with an unfailing love and she had grown strong in Him.