Back in the “Grief in the Discovery” series, I mentioned the stage of bargaining in the grieving cycle. You can find more detailed info in that post, but a short answer of what bargaining looks like, are questions such as “what if” or “if only”. “If only I had done ABCDEFG, then my spouse wouldn’t have cheated.” However, there is a side that looks similar to bargaining, allowing a person to ask “what if”, but it is much deeper, as it causes the betrayed spouse to question their entire identity.
Adultery is personal.
We have not spent enough time in our recovery process to dissect for you the ins and outs of sexual addictions/sexual integrity issues, but one thing that has stuck out for me was how incredibly personal adultery is. While other addictions, such as substance abuse, are painful and can rip families apart, issues of sex involve another person.
When I found out about the other woman, it threw me into a fury of comparison. Her hair is dark, does that mean he doesn’t like my blond hair? She is thinner, is he hating on my pregnancy fluff? She is fun and flirty, does he reject my uncanny ability to thrive on structure? Whether in real life or via fantasy, I am talking about a person, someone other than me. I think we can all agree here that I wouldn’t have compared myself to a can of beer with the same respect.
“Whether it is porn, lust, affairs, or prostitutes, the comparison begins. And you begin to ask yourself: Why? What is so wrong with me? Why would he choose her over myself?” -Shelly Martinkus
Daily I fight the images of the other woman, and I won’t lie to you, sometimes I wallow in comparison, entering into deep insecurity. I reach beyond the action “what if” in bargaining, grabbing the “what if” of my entire identity. Like my good friend Shelley, I wanted to know why my husband would choose someone over me. What if I was thinner? What if I had better teeth? What if I were shorter?
Yes, definitely personal. And a personal attack, needs a personal God.
Somewhere in my self loathing and infinite sadness, God met me and reminded me of a few things;
This is not my fault - Because of what Christ did on our behalf, we christians are called to “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). My husband did not run away, as he was supposed to.
I look the way God designed me to look - He “knitted me together” (Psalm 139:13). That means the way I look, how I am gifted, the specific burdens I carry, are all designed by God himself. Comparing myself to the other woman is futile, remembering how purposefully I was made, helps.
My body has birthed three babies - Having children changes all prior body shape. It just does. I must remind myself that God has “filled my womb with treasure” (Psalm 17:14), and that more important than my culturally undesirable body, it has produced people. People matter.
God heals and restores men who are stuck in addictive sexual behaviors - “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) ”We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) No matter what, I must remember that God changes hearts, producing repentance in man.
There is no such thing as “ok” lust - Sometimes I give in to a voice that says, “every spouse is going to lust, so its ok”. Jesus set the bar so high, to say that by God’s standard, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Lust is definitely not ok. Excusing sin, never allows God to change the heart, for God requires our sin in exchange for his righteousness.
In a post to come, I’d like to share with you what the counselor recommended when it came to physically resetting our...* eh hem * orgasm, and what has been a practical way for us a way to gain intimacy with one another after our marriage was in ruin. Sex, after any form of adultery, can be emotionally painful, especially if unaddressed.