An honest conversation with a Pastor about caring for marriages impacted by sexual betrayal.
Pastor: “Lyschel, help me out. I don’t see a lot of success for these marriages. What am I missing or doing wrong? The pattern I see is the addict starts to do the things he is supposed to do: groups, accountability, sobriety. However, she is still upset, unforgiving and angry. He gets weary of it after a while and decides he wants to stop working on the marriage. It all seems upside down to me. He was the one who caused the mess, began to clean it up, and then he decides it’s not worth it. What’s going on?”
Lyschel:“She isn’t getting the support she needs to heal. Honestly, it’s a really common oversight. As a couple, they show up in the office looking for help. He is handed a book, group, and accountability, and the belief is that he now has the tools to fix ‘it’. He will read the book, go to group, and get accountable. Once he has done those things, the wife will feel better and the ache deep within her will subside. This is the wrong assumption.
Reality is she doesn’t feel better. Why? He is most likely not sharing with her what’s going on with him. He may or may not attend the group regularly and the accountability feels like a secret. She struggles to see how his “work” is healing her. So, she looks to him for more: more books, more progress, more accountability. Surely if he does more, then her betrayed heart will stop hemorrhaging.”
What we miss is this truth: her husband can’t heal her heart. That’s the Lord’s work. However, if a woman is offered resources and support for her processing, she can begin to heal in her own way. She is not to blame for the betrayal any more than you would be blamed for an accident if you were hit by a drunk driver. She is a victim and needs to be cared for as if she has just weathered a horrible trauma, because she has.”
Pastor, after sitting silently for a moment: “Ya know, I think you might be right. I don’t usually offer her anything when they are in my office. I usually just ask her to give it time. I’m learning that she needs more than time. She needs support.”
I can’t begin to tell you the relief I felt when the Pastor took a few seconds to reflect on my response and see the missing element for marriage restoration when facing sexual betrayal. I am honored to support him in this way, and in turn, support the women of his church who need hope and healing.
—Lyschel Burket, Lead Hope Caster, Hope Redefned