Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures! We easily understand this with physical injuries. If someone gets badly hurt in an accident, she is likely to receive compassion and support. No one would frown on her need to have time off from her normal responsibilities, go to physical therapy, or rest. She is likely to be loved on with meals, cards, and more. Life’s pace would need to change to make room for recovery.
It is a different story when this same woman suffers a devastating, emotional blow such as being betrayed by the person that her life is most intertwined with: her husband.
The kind of heartbreak that infidelity produces is severe. The grief has been equaled to that of losing a child. Emotions are all over the place. Anger is a normal emotional response to betrayal. Tears can be incessant. For some, shock and numbness can set in. Insecurities shout, “you’re not enough.”
Emotional triggers become a way of life. The body responds with appetite changes, panic attacks, sleep disturbances, stomach issues, and even aggravated pre-existing health conditions.
Initially, to even speak to someone else about what you are going through can bring more pain and shame. Accepting that this is part of your life takes time. Who could be trusted with this sensitive information?
The truth is, many carry on in this life-altering reality without tending to their invisible wounds. The lack of self-care will take its toll on the individual. Self-neglect when facing something that impacts one so deeply is likely to incur negative consequences such as clinical depression, physical illness, becoming bitter, developing an addiction, getting stuck, and much more.
It is important to practice self-care when healing from betrayal trauma as a basic form of stewardship. Borrowing from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, our bodies, thoughts, heart, and behaviors are our most obvious “talents.” Using these “talents” well to heal will move you forward to the good works God created for you to do as you get stronger.
Consider giving emotional trauma the equal respect that you would give to a physical injury. God does. When He looks at us He sees our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus calls the weary to come to Him to receive rest (Matthew 11:28). He is near the broken-hearted and saves those whose spirit is crushed (Psalm 34:18). God provides for basic needs in a time of distress (1 Kings 19:3-8). He collects our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). Your heartache hardly escapes His notice. Don’t let it escape yours.
Josh Spurlock says in his article on the theology of self-care: “Self-care isn’t selfish or self-indulgent, it’s good stewardship of the resource of our body that enables us to make the best use of it and the time God has given us.”
Here are a few obstacles that can hold you back from practicing needed self-care at this time:
What do you enjoy doing? What deposits energy back to your heart and soul? What did you enjoy doing as a child?
Would you make a list of 20 items? Your list can contain things you already know you love and things you would like to try. This is a great place to start practicing self-care.
To inspire you, I’m sharing a list of 20 self-care ideas compiled by a wife while still in the shock stage of betrayal trauma. After allowing herself to ride the wave of hard-to-feel emotions, she would choose something from this list to help restore calm and recharge.
Yes, healing from sexual betrayal is an extraordinary time in your life, and it does require extraordinary measures of stewardship, whether the people around you realize it or not. The important thing is you realize it and start moving in that direction one step at a time.
Written by Gigi Hopkins
Wives Care Coordinator
Is it possible to have fun again in your marriage after an affair? This is a heavy question, but I believe it is absolutely possible.
The marriage covenant is serious because it is the promise between a man and a woman to "love, honor, and cherish" each other "til death do us part." And when there is a sexual betrayal of that covenant, a type of death is felt.
God's Word tells us that sexual betrayal in marriage is so serious that if it is committed, the offended spouse is allowed to divorce. (Although it is best to first seek reconciliation, especially if the betraying spouse is repentant and submits to appropriate help.)
With sexual betrayal being so serious a violation of the marriage covenant, how is it possible for a couple who has faced this to reconcile, let alone have fun again?
I'm not going to cover in this article all that is involved in reconciling a broken marriage. You can learn a little more about what that journey looks like here.
So this article is for the couple who has decided to reconcile and work on their marriage, and wants to know what does "having fun" again look like.
Here are 4 key guidelines to help you have fun again after an affair:
1. Let the betrayed partner set the pace for pursuing fun
When sexual betrayal is committed, the spouse who was betrayed carries the heaviest burden. They are the one that feels used, deceived, and "less than." It will likely take them longer to feel "safe" enough to be vulnerable with their spouse.
If you are the spouse who committed the sexual betrayal, you need to be extremely patient and gentle with your wounded partner. They will need a great amount of gentleness and compassion from you as they navigate a whole new universe of emotions.
Therefore, the "pace" of pursuing fun again needs to be primarily directed by the betrayed spouse. They need this "power" because it is directly connected to how safe they feel.
When they feel safe, they become more open to fun activities.
When they feel unsafe, they are less inclined to want to pursue fun.
My wife and I were separated for 9 months when all my lies of betrayal came out into the open. I got in recovery and my wife got some great counseling. When we reconciled and moved back in together it was difficult navigating our "new" marriage.
I wanted my wife to feel safe so that she could be herself around me. Probably the biggest way I helped this to happen was to take my recovery and sobriety seriously -- to truly be a man of integrity.
As I proved myself to her in my recovery, she felt much safer and therefore more open to doing fun things together.
And during this "rebirth" it wasn't as if I had no voice or opinion to offer about things to do, but it was important that my voice be softer and gentler, and that my pace be in step with my wife's healing journey.
Relearning how to have fun together will likely be a roller coaster for awhile, but that's okay. Healing and restoring a marriage wounded by sexual betrayal is not a quick, seamless process. It takes time, but it's worth the time taken.
2. Explore both old and new interests
If you have been married for more than 5 minutes you have history together. You have shared activities and memories. You certainly had things at the beginning of your relationship that you mutually enjoyed -- it's why you fell in love.
Sometimes when couples are recovering from the devastation of sexual betrayal it can seem like everything in the past was a lie, or at the very least is now completely and utterly tainted or irreparably damaged. This is not true, even if it feels true.
Because it can feel like the past is totally destroyed, the rebuilding process can seem like everything moving forward has to be NEW. New routines. New job, new phone, new house, new gym, new Internet filter, etc. New clothes, new communication skills, new church, new car. New movies, new TV shows, new social media (nah, none of that!), new restaurants, and even new shoes.
Whew! Are you exhausted yet?
When rebuilding after an affair there are certainly going to be some new ways of living established, but not everything you enjoy doing together has to be new. In fact, some of the best stuff for rekindling your intimacy will be found in reforming some old activities from your history together.
My wife and I have always loved to travel together. We love to drive around old towns looking at the old buildings and learning the history. We love to ask the locals where to eat and what they do for fun. These activities didn't have to be eliminated from our lives after our reconciliation. They were simply reformed and enjoyed in new ways because of the healing we experienced.
But it is also good to explore new ways of having fun together. After all, in a very real sense you are building a "new" marriage. It is only fitting that you explore new things together that bring joy and delight into your relationship.
Work together on exploring both old and new interests that are fun and interesting. Never stop learning and growing together.
3. Make sure fun obeys the Golden Rule
Jesus said, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 7:12) This is commonly referred to as the "Golden Rule." And it's important to remember when learning to have fun again after an affair.
In many ways the restoration process for a marriage that is healing from an affair is a journey of "learning" each other in new ways. You are learning how to talk openly and honestly, how to make decisions together, and exploring what intimacy really looks like.
As you pursue fun activities together make the Golden Rule the "litmus test" for your decision. Is the activity something your spouse will enjoy, or simply endure? Are you being considerate and thoughtful toward them? Have you been listening to what they have been saying about what they find fun or enjoyable?
Now, I know what some of your are thinking. If you are the betrayed spouse, you are probably shouting at me: "I've done this before and got burned by my spouse's deception before. Why would I want to do this again and risk getting hurt in the same way?"
I get it. It is definitely a risk to explore having fun again and to place your spouse's interests ahead of your own. And I'm not suggesting that you take a blind risk if your spouse is not showing signs of repentance and true pursuit of a changed life. But even if all those things are present, it's still a risk; there is no guarantee that you will never be hurt again.
But when you are both seeking to apply the Golden Rule to your decision-making about fun activities together, I think you will find that you will land on some mutually agreeable activities that really will be fun together. Yes, it's a risk, but it's a risk worth taking.
(Also, if you were the betraying spouse, be extra sensitive and caring when making decisions about fun activities. You still have a voice, but be extremely empathetic to your spouse's emotional sensitivity in this season of rebuilding.)
4. Keep fun in its proper place
Finally, remember that fun is simply fun. And fun is good, but it isn't the ultimate goal for restoring your marriage. Other issues like glorifying God and rebuilding oneness should take precedence over simply having fun together.
But at the same time you must acknowledge that having fun together is not unimportant. If you focus all your energy only on super spiritual matters and intensive counseling, but never spend any time together just having fun, I will argue that you are not fully rebuilding your marriage.
I believe God absolutely wants us to be out-of-this-world happy! Happy in Him and happy in each other. I also believe that such happiness comes by way of being whole and holy. So, happiness is not disconnected from righteous living, but it also isn't devoid of real fun, true enjoyment in the creation God has made.
Explore fun in the context of pursuing God together. I believe God will show you how to have fun in ways that you never thought of before. And I also believe that God will be delighted in seeing you smile together again, not merely for the sake of smiling, but instead because something worth smiling about is truly happening in your restored marriage.
Is it possible to have fun again after an affair? I believe it is. Do you?
(This is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list of ideas or insights for having fun again after an affair. It is simply meant to be a starting point. We'd love to hear your ideas and insights in the comments section below.)
Written by Jonathan Daugherty
Founder of Be Broken Ministries
What makes accountability with our children have lasting results? It’s one thing for a father and son to have a few conversations that result in a temporary change in the son’s integrity. It is quite another to create a dynamic that causes the son to be open to ongoing conversations about sexuality and integrity. That’s really what we are talking about.
Lasting accountability requires a relationship between father and son that welcomes difficult conversations.
What is in the Way
In 2019 Be Broken surveyed a large group of teen boys who came from Christian homes. When we asked why kids today are afraid to talk with their parents about sex all of their answers could be summarized in these two points:
These two statements illustrate what is standing in the way of lasting father-son accountability.
Do You Understand Me?
First of all, boys are afraid that their fathers do not know what it feels like to be sexually tempted. When fathers talk to their sons we tend to talk from the head instead of the heart. Sons are left uncertain if their dad really understands how they feel.
Saying “I remember wanting to look at porn at your age” does not necessarily send the message that we really know what that feels like. That is talking from the head. Talking from the heart sounds more like this:
“When I was eleven my friends showed me porn at a sleepover. I knew I shouldn’t want to but I could not make myself look away. It made me feel something I’d never felt before and I wanted to see more.”
This kind of confession on the part of a father resonates much more with his son. This is speaking from the heart to our sons. Lasting accountability with our sons requires that we be open and honest about our own past.
Will I Get in Trouble?
Boys also worry that they will get in trouble if they admit they have already seen porn or engaged in some kind of sexual behavior. Boys can also be afraid to ask questions about sexual words they have heard and do not understand. Instead of going to Dad, they ask Google or an older friend, which rarely ends well.
The only way our sons will be honest with us is if they know it is safe to tell Dad. That means we, as fathers, have to restrain ourselves when our sons confess or ask a question we are shocked that they even thought of.
For accountability to last, our sons need to have positive experiences during accountability conversations. They need to feel supported, not judged. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.
What our sons need most is a strong relationship with their dad, or with another adult if the dad is not around. Having clear boundaries is important. Doing our best to protect our sons from sexualized content is important. But none of that will work if our sons don’t care what we say or think. Building a close relationship with our sons makes them much more likely to embrace our ideals.
My Son’s Story
This was certainly true with my son. I had been talking with him about sex and accountability since he was eleven. When he was thirteen, unbeknown to me, he had found a way to view porn. He kept this secret for a month or two before finally coming clean and confessing to me what he had been doing.
I remember how tense he looked when he told me. He was unable to look me in the face. God must have been with me that moment because the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m so glad you told me.” His body visibly relaxed and I knew I had done something right for once.
A few years later we were talking about that incident. He told me that the reason he confessed is because we had been talking about sex and porn and I had told him about my troubles with those things when I was his age.
But, he also said that if I would have gotten mad—"tore him up" were his words I believe—he would have never been honest with me about porn again. He also said if I would have acted like I didn’t care or that it was no big deal he would probably not talked to me again either. He didn’t want me to not care, but he wanted me to care about him more than the mistake he had made.
What Lasting Looks Like
Having good accountability with your son does not mean he will stop making sexual mistakes once you build a good relationship with him. He will make plenty of mistakes. There will months or even years when he isn’t very invested in accountability with you. But if you continue to reach out to him with honesty, he will never forget that and likely return to accountability in the future.
When faced with a difficult situation with our son, we can ask ourself, “What can I say or do that will build our relationship long term?” rather than, “What can I do to stop his behavior right now?” This isn’t always easy but I have found it to pay off over time. That’s what lasting father-son accountability is all about.
Written by John Fort
Director of Training
Author of Honest Talk & Father-Son Accountability
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