girl curled up crying

If you’ve been betrayed by your spouse, the pain may be too great for you to feel strong enough sharing it with others. But finding other wives who’ve gone through this experience is a vital step in processing your pain. Debra Wallace shares on the importance of finding a wives care group as a self-care strategy for women suffering betrayal trauma. 

The Betrayal Trauma Club is a club no one ever purposely intends to join. 

It is trauma with a capital T, and ranks right up there with losing a loved one. What I thought was once the sacred institution of marriage had suddenly become a cruel joke. The lyrics to “Standing On Holy Ground”—once sung at my wedding—no longer held any truth for me.

You see, several years prior, I had come to discover my husband was leading a double life. 

Text messages revealed a same-sex affair. I was certain life as I knew it was over, never to be normal again. My heart longed to share this secret with someone who would understand; someone who had been through it before—and survived. 

Someone who could show me what living with strength and dignity looked like in the face of such betrayal. 

 

FINDING HEALING IN COMMUNITY

Betrayed women question everything—including the ability to trust again. 

What did I do wrong? Where do I find hope and healing? Will I ever have joy again? 

Devastating and earth-shattering as it is, those affected need to continue living life—caring for their families and themselves—yet deep inside, feelings of shame, secrecy, and worthlessness cry out, Just curl up and die!

Support groups for wives and counseling with someone well versed in Betrayal Trauma are two prime areas to begin replacing shame and secrecy with hope and healing. 

Yet, a wives care club was not one I initially cared to join. In fact, it took three years after discovering my husband’s infidelity before I set foot in a counseling office or opened the door of a support group room. 

The shame was too substantial—I couldn’t face anyone. 

Besides, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a circle of sad women, sharing my sad story. I felt hopeless and resolved to keep my family secrets. 

Eventually sheer desperation won. 

I succumbed and dragged my weary self to the nearest wives care group.

 

BENEFITS OF BELONGING

On a betrayed wife’s journey to joy, opportunities to share stories with one another—as well as participating in informative discussion topics to help one move forward—are vital. 

It doesn’t take long for each participant to realize and reap the benefits of belonging. 

A mutual understanding happens, even if our circumstances aren’t exactly the same. No story is ‘worse than’ or ‘not as bad’ as someone else’s. 

We don’t compare—betrayal has the same effects, and no matter how the details of the stories may differ, it’s still painful. 

When women gather and relationships form, hearts bond over mutual hurts. We learn to release our grip on circumstances we cannot control while giving our concerns to Jesus. 

Our loving and gracious God comforts us in our distress as we become ‘battle buddies’ for one another in this raging war. 

 

FINDING HOPE AND RESTORATION 

As we become intentional with self-care, realizing it’s good stewardship and not selfishness, we make space for our spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs. In doing so, we heal together, being held accountable each week while resting in God’s perfect plan for our lives.

We begin to understand our pain is never wasted and learn the meaning of “feel to heal” while we process emotions without hurry. We steward the sacred, being willing for God to use our stories for His glory while He continues to mend our hearts and nourish our souls. 

Learning to peacefully rest in God’s protection and provision has been my blessing while participating in the group. My perspective changed from, “My life will never get better, it’s over, it’s hopeless” to, “This won’t last forever. With God’s help, I will get through this.”

In a community like this, questions of uncertainty—“Why did God allow this; what’s wrong with me?”— get replaced with truth and clarity as we come together in agreement and learn to meditate on and memorize Scripture. 

We learn we are not the cause and cannot change or cure our husbands but can choose healing for ourselves. We begin to hear, believe, and apply God’s Word to our circumstances. 

 

MY TURNING POINT

A major pivot in my healing journey began after joining a women’s Bible study at my church.

 Participants were encouraged to grow more deeply in relationship with God by utilizing the spiritual discipline of Scripture memorization. Applying one verse to memory every two weeks would result in a grand total of 26 verses memorized by the end of the year—a daunting challenge for me. 

Proverbs 31:25 was the first verse I chose: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” 

One thing I knew for sure—strength and dignity were not a part of this girl’s vocabulary, nor did my future show any foreseeable signs of laughter. Should I still give memorizing a try? I wondered. The Bible study ladies may be strong and dignified, but surely this verse didn’t describe me! 

As I began to memorize Scripture, verse by verse, the Holy Spirit did an amazing thing, whispering His truths to me. As I repeated Scripture out loud on a daily basis, I slowly began to believe God’s Word was true—not just for others, but for me as well. 

It became such a vital tool in my healing, I have not stopped. With each verse I claim as truth, finding my identity in Christ alone, I grow stronger, braver, and more in love with Jesus.

 

NEXT STEPS

If you’ve experienced the crushing blow of betrayal trauma, don’t wait to find help. Love and support await you, soothing deep heart wounds with the precious balm of understanding. 

If you know someone who has experienced betrayal, encourage them to find a wives care support group nearby. Finding other women who care for and bear each other’s burdens is welcome relief. No one should ever need to walk this road alone.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). 

Jesus beckons us to come to Him with our heavy burdens. 

He longs to help us carry what He never intended for us to bear alone. 

Healing can happen, but it’s a choice each individual must make for themselves. Jesus, our only true satisfaction, fills every vacant spot. He faithfully supplies restoration when we come to Him with our needs. 

Rest assured, Jesus will never betray, leave, or forsake us on this journey to the joyful, abundant life He promises.

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3 comments
  1. Debra,
    In 1999, after 20 years of marriage, I, too, discovered same-sex betrayal within my marriage. At that time, I could find nothing- not a group, not a book, not an empathetic ear. Sympathy, yes. I didn’t need that; I held my own pity parties for one daily. My pastor put his finger in my face and told me to go home and be a Proverbs 31 wife. Another pastor propositioned me. Spiritual abuse. Added to the open betrayal wound, the sepsis sent me spiraling into toxic shock and three more marriages over the past 18 years; I was looking for the love I never had.

    In 2017, I found Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-Step program for life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Without CR, I can say with much assurance, I would be dead by now. My “Step Sisters” have lifted my mat, carried to me up the ladder to the roof, and lowered me to Jesus. Their prayers and love enable me to see He indeed love me and cared about me. CR was only eight years old in 1999. Probably still only on the West Coast. We are taught that “If only’s and but’s” do us no good, but after four years in CR I KNOW I would not have made the decisions I made if I had found CR all those years earlier. BUT GOD… He is so good. I am now Training Coach for my Celebrate Recovery. It’s such a blessing to see God’s people growing and changing in Him. Many women have suffered Betrayal Trauma. Many. Continue to pray that God leads them all to a Christian group, a special Godly friend(s). You can’t heal a wound if you say it’s not there. (Jeremiah) Thank you for letting me share.

  2. Debra,
    In 1999, after 20 years of marriage, I, too, discovered same-sex betrayal within my marriage. At that time, I could find nothing- not a group, not a book, not an empathetic ear. Sympathy, yes. I didn’t need that; I held my own pity parties for one daily. My pastor put his finger in my face and told me to go home and be a Proverbs 31 wife. Another pastor propositioned me. Spiritual abuse. Added to the open betrayal wound, the sepsis sent me spiraling into toxic shock and three more marriages over the past 18 years; I was looking for the love I never had.

    In 2017, I found Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-Step program for life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Without CR, I can say with much assurance, I would be dead by now. My “Step Sisters” have lifted my mat, carried to me up the ladder to the roof, and lowered me to Jesus. Their prayers and love enable me to see He indeed loves me and cares about me. CR was only eight years old in 1999. Probably still only on the West Coast. We are taught that “If only’s and but’s” do us no good, but after four years in CR I KNOW I would not have made the decisions I made if I had found CR all those years earlier. BUT GOD… He is so good. I am now Training Coach for my Celebrate Recovery. It’s such a blessing to see God’s people growing and changing in Him. Many women have suffered Betrayal Trauma. Many. Continue to pray that God leads them all to a Christian group, a special Godly friend(s). You can’t heal a wound if you say it’s not there. (Jeremiah) Thank you for letting me share.

  3. I’m so sorry you are on this path, too, but grateful God led you to the right people who pointed you to Jesus and came alongside. Groups are definitely getting better at addressing our issues as betrayal trauma. Blessings as you continue to heal and trust God’s protection and provision.

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