Renee, you’ve been telling us about the WIFEBOAT Online Support Group you’re starting on August 25th. What sort of topics will you cover in this program?
The WIFEBOAT Online Support Group will be 2 hours a week for 12 weeks. After we take some time to share our stories, each session will have a short teaching on subjects relevant to their recovery–boundaries, wounded femininity, children and family issues–then we’ll have a group discussion on how this issue is affecting each one. I even have a special guest facilitator planned–my husband Joe will be on hand for a session to give the women a man’s perspective on all of this.
You mentioned “Boundaries” as one of the topics you’ll be teaching on. What are boundaries, and why do they matter?
Boundaries are important because they define what we will allow and what we won’t allow. Boundaries are for correcting an attitude or action of disrespect and are used to protect us from any future wounding. When someone violates boundaries by breaking a marriage covenant with sexual sin, it’s like they’ve stolen something from you. So, in order to correct that and begin restoring trust (part of what was stolen) in the marriage, boundaries have to be communicated and respected.
What sort of emotions do these women go through?
The women usually report feeling like the bottom has completely dropped out of their lives. Life as they knew it is gone, and they feel lost. They feel angry, everything about their identity is challenged–their identity as a wife, their identity in their family, in the community, even their sexuality–is challenged. A lot of women report physical pain (stomach ache, headaches), emotional pain (depression, can’t stop crying); they go through some serious trust and anger issues, and experience symptoms of grief.
How hard is it for them to finally forgive their husbands?
I think most wives who are wounded by their husband’s sexual sin want to forgive their husbands, but most struggle with how and when. An important distinction is the difference between forgiveness and trust. Forgiveness can be given–by God’s grace He enables us to do that–but trust has to be earned. Depending on the husband’s attitude about what he’s done, his wife may be able to trust again as he shows consistency in his own recovery over a period of time. But forgiveness is a process too — of facing what’s been done to us and giving it up to God as a fragrant offering.
Can a marriage ever really be healed after a husband has committed adultery or used pornography?
First let me say that the process of restoring a marriage damaged by sexual sin isn’t for cowards. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of one partner or the other, the marriage doesn’t survive. But yes, marriages have been healed and many times are better than they were before. When a couple walks through this process right, then they will probably be communicating better, respecting each other better and will have grown in their faith. Sometimes the rebuilt broken bond is stronger than the original one. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a process that demands committment and maturity on the part of both partners.
So there’s hope?
There’s always hope… because ultimately our hope isn’t in our own abilities or efforts. Our hope is in God, who gives us the grace we need to perservere and who has the ability to bring depth and meaning to the things we go through in our lives. We never have to be ashamed when we put our hope in Him! He is near to those who come to Him in truth and with a humble heart.-R