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The Betrayed Wives Club: The club no one wants to join

Photo: Unsplash/Patryk Sobczak
Photo: Unsplash/Patryk Sobczak

It's a typical Wednesday morning — or so she thought. While her husband may have been bracing himself for his confession or inevitable exposure, his wife has no idea what lies ahead. He will likely be relieved for his shame to be in the light, but her world is about to cave in around her.

The typical Wednesday morning has become a living nightmare. Her journey of finding a new place to belong begins now. Welcome to what I have come to call the Betrayed Wives Club, a group no one wants to join. This under-discussed and misunderstood cohort of women in the church is a group I minister to every week. It is important for Christians to know who this group is and what they experience.

When a wife is betrayed by her husband, she seeks a "me too" from others with a similar traumatic experience. Betrayal in marriage shatters more than just the marriage. Her whole way of life, everything she knew to be true, her most trusted attachment, has been severed and leveled to ground zero. She finds herself desperate for help to make sense of any part of this madness. Lest this sound overly dramatic, the symptoms a wife is likely to experience after marriage betrayal often present as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

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She feels crazy, but she's not. The situation is crazy. She feels duped and blindsided. She scrambles for anything to help bring order to the chaos. This shouldn't be happening; she likely did everything possible to prevent it. The one who vowed to love, honor, and cherish her has done precisely the opposite, maybe once, maybe twice, or maybe compulsively over decades.

Through tears of grief and disbelief, bursts of anger, and everything in between, she grasps for helpful resources and human connection. She soon realizes that, against her will, she has become a card-carrying member of this club she never wanted to join.

We understand the need for military personnel to gather and reminisce about their time and experiences during war. We accept the need for women who have experienced infertility to share and encourage one another. We have compassion for parents who seek support from others who understand the complexities of raising adopted children.  Betrayed wives need this too. A measure of beauty can be found when our traumatic experiences are seen and heard at a deep level by another person in a healthy way.

Betrayed wives may also experience her betrayal as one might experience a death without a funeral. It is nonsensical, and there is little to no closure. However, it is not the end for her. Some longstanding members of this felicitous club will say they are better for it. Hearing that she will be "better for it" may elicit a whole-body eye roll for a new club member. However, veteran members know that because of their hard work to heal and grow, they are more of who God created them to be than they may have ever dreamed or imagined.

The betrayed wife's previous reality — or what she thought was reality — has been shaken to its core. The journey will require a significant grieving process before a new reality can be visualized and accepted.

As a newly betrayed wife joins The Betrayed Wives Club, there are a few things she needs to know:

Self-care is paramount

Self-care in healing at a basic level is described as healthy activities we can do to regulate the mind, body, and emotions. When the betrayed wife is in an emotional spiral, or as Dr. Peter Levine describes in his book, Waking the Tiger, as the trauma vortex, she can steward herself well by setting healthy boundaries for her safety, seeking wise counsel, and choosing to take care of her needs to become grounded and regulated.

New trauma will open old trauma

This aspect of healing is incredibly unfair, but knowing and accepting it is essential. The betrayed wife will need to be willing to turn over every stone. The work will be worthwhile!

She will get to the better side. With a focus on Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG), the emotional spirals and intense triggers will begin to release their hold and become more manageable over time. There is immense hope in knowing her pain will not always be so painful. She will get to the better side.

She can't control the timeline

Surrendering the timeline for her (and her husband's) healing will be one of the most challenging choices she'll need to make. Healing is not linear, and keeping a good pace is essential. With God as the true Healer, she can find peace in doing all that is within her control, allowing the Lord to do His healing work in His perfect timing.

Betrayal is not the whole story

The betrayal feels so overwhelming that the betrayed wife may mistake it for her whole story, but it is only part of it. There's much more to her life than betrayal. She can experience comfort and peace as she opens her story to the bigger picture of the redemptive plan of the Lord “who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).

*A note to the betrayed wife reading this article: God made you a woman of worth, and no one can take that away from you. Don't give up before you find your people. We are here for you.

Andrea Stunz is Be Broken Ministries' Marketing Specialist and Wives Care Aftercare Coordinator. Be Broken helps individuals, families, and churches move from sexual brokenness to wholeness in Christ. The Wives Care ministry has supported thousands of wives who have experienced marriage betrayal trauma. Find her at and FB/IG, @andreastunz.

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