Betrayal in Marriage
We all have experienced betrayal in our relationships. We typically think of betrayal as an affair or deception, and some of us may be quick to say, “That doesn’t apply to my relationship.”
But what today’s conversation points out is that betrayal is actually anything that disconnects us from our partner and places something else above that person we love most. These moments of betrayal can lead to hurt, disappointment, shame, and a loss of trust.
How do we navigate those moments of betrayal when we feel so wounded? And, whether you’re the one who has perpetrated the harm or you’re the one who has been on the receiving end of that harm, how do we bravely enter into the spaces of shame to name the harm that’s been done and grow together as a couple?
Join Dan and Becky Allender of the Allender Center and Steve and Lisa Call of the Reconnect Institute as they talk about re-engaging with your spouse in those moments of betrayal to cultivate a new sense of trust and hope in your marriage.
Marriage Offerings from the Allender Center:
The Allender Center offers several courses, workshops, and conferences to deepen intimacy and enrich your relationship – whether you’re in a committed relationship, dating, or have been married for several years. You can learn more at theallendercenter.org/marriage
Dan: Well, as I’ve said before, talking about marriage. I’m really fond of you, Becky. It’s really good to be with you.
Becky: Wow, Dr. Allender.
Steve: That’s a great story.
Becky: Great to be sitting with you.
Dan: Ah, that’s funny. And to be able to open good at hard conversations with their friends and colleagues. Steve and Lisa Call from Reconnect Institute. Thank you for joining us. Again, this will be a little bit more complex and more difficult. Let’s just say it right from the beginning cause that we’ve talked about attachment and what that brings. The reality is sin breaks attachment. And as we talk about the reality that every marriage look experiences, some degree of disappointment, hurt, loss, but often we don’t use the word betrayal. Maybe because it’s too big or because it’s too dramatic. Or we assume that betrayal is only when there’s an affair or where there’s been clear deception, ugly shaming of the other or addictive processes. Those are what I would call capital “B” betrayals, big time, and we need to address that. But I think most couples experience failure to some degree as a form of betrayal, but it’s so hard to name that. And yet without naming it, you don’t actually have the access to see the debris and begin to address it in a way that invites you to a restorative process. So that’s the topic. You want to do launch on it, Steve and Lisa? Thanks have love.
Steve: So grateful that you invited us into this. Yes. And maybe for us, but also for many listening, what you’ve just named is helpful is that there might be already a level of resistance of, oh, that’s not us, or that’s not me, I know. Or we haven’t endured that. And we could possibly say that all marriages have endured some form of betrayal. They might just not be able or willing to acknowledge or see where it has been a part of their story, part of their experience. I think what you also said too is helpful of this capital “B” versus lowercase “b” that we’ve endured. I think betrayal is very similar to trauma in the sense that there is always a sense of loss. And that’s an important part of how we navigate maybe even talking about betrayal is what do we mean by it? Well, it’s I think a significant relational loss between partners or spouses that shapes or forms the way they then live and or interact and be with one another. I mean, as you know Dan in the world of therapy, it is so common and it is a familiar dynamic for couples that are trying to work through something as a betrayal is a common familiar part of their story, their experience, but maybe not in ways that they saw or were willing to see. For us, that I think was very true that we have three lovely children that are now adults adult children. But the as is true for many couples that the raising of children is very difficult together. And that in our story, when there might be times when Lisa was very what could I say? Preoccupied, busy, focused on the children’s needs. And I was to a degree, but not the same as Lisa. And there was such a sense of what I felt like, not just loss, but I don’t even know how to put words to it. But this idea of sense, this feeling of where are you? Where did you go? How come something else or someone else is more important? And sometimes that is the question that comes from betrayal, that something and or someone else has replaced me has become more important than me. Whether that’s the substance, whether that’s within the affair whether that’s some form of tragedy. I think there is something about this internal worldview that becomes I’ve lost my place. I’m no longer a value to you. I no longer matter to you. And often that is one of the key, I think results responses within betrayal is we, we’ve lost our place. We no longer matter.
Lisa: That loss of access. And it could be in work. I mean, Steve was a basketball coach, and so there was just these seasons. And so whenever we feel that loss of access it can feel really personal. And I think also we tend to, if we’re the one that’s involved, maybe I was the one involved in raising children, you know, want to be defensive and you want to say, but this, I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing what I need to do. And so you can really go round and round about maybe pointing fingers back and forth and defending yourself and really getting nowhere. Defensiveness just really gets us nowhere. And yet we feel so stuck. And like you said, you didn’t even know how to put words to it. So we don’t even want to engage the conversation. And so then what does that do? Maybe we shut down, we move away, we withdraw. There’s all kinds of things that happen in the midst of dealing with no access, that don’t lead to health, that don’t lead to goodness.
Dan: Well, I think that framework, if you add another phrase, and that is not just significant loss, that’s huge. I mean that you prefer someone else to me. If that’s a child, if that’s an affair or it’s your work, whatever it might be, there is that bind that when it gets addressed, the betrayal feels like not just the event or the process, but I’ve addressed it and it brings no change. So betrayal often feels like it’s bound into that repetitive structure where there has been no resolve and it keeps coming up and it keeps bringing harm. And I think for a lot of couples that betrayal leads again to a kind of DMZ, demilitarized zone, where there is this kind of commitment to not deal with it because it’s too painful. And yet in not dealing with it, it leaves the ground so available for the seeds of division, dissension, disappointment, and ultimately in some form, maybe literally formally, but informally, a form of divorce. Like we will not engage and grow together. So all that to say, I think every couple knows betrayal. And you felt it more in the context of children. I don’t, that was not where I think we were feeling. In one sense, the reality of that, where would you put it for us?
Becky: Well, when I was thinking about this, I thought often we would go out to eat with another couple and you would tell many things that I hadn’t heard before and I felt really hurt by that. Why don’t you tell me anything? Again, we weren’t that curious about one another’s stories then. I mean, guess Dan’s mother wanted to know everything about his life. So why would he.. that alone would kind of change it. But for me, I just really love Dan so much. I just wanted to know what are you doing? And when you tell this in front of other people, it hurts me. Now, I really didn’t know how to vocalize that. But what I would do, I would pattern what was very often when my parents would go out and socialize, it’d be my mother finding fault with my dad. And so without even thinking it through, this would happen on a Friday night. And it was so out of character of who we were. It took us years to figure it out. And I can easily lapse into that old behavior if I feel like everyone else knows but me and feel left out.
Dan: And it’s such a tragic example because it’s betrayal to betrayal. I really have failed her. And it’s a kind of betrayal of I will not live with you as I had to live with my mother who would interrogate every day, every event I was over at Trevor’s home. What did you do? What show did you watch? What was it about? And it was like, get off me. I’ll tell you what I want to tell you. And it will come out in one sense in small portions to see what you eventually do with those before… But if you had asked me, am I replicating as we talked on the other podcast about attachment structures, if you’d asked me, am I living out the structure of what you lived with regard to your mother, with your wife, I would’ve thought, are you nuts? This woman couldn’t be any different in the universe.
Becky: And I was very different from my mother, but here I was in this same kind of snipy way.
Dan: Yeah, I think, but particularly when there is a threat, oftentimes there is a heightened degree of again, intensification, but also the likelihood of this sense of betrayal.
Steve: I think too, what you just said around the sense of awareness is helpful. We’ve talked about with attachment, the awareness of how am I reenacting the harm potentially that my spouse has endured in their own story. I think also when we talk about betrayal, it, it’s so important to, I think remember that it’s a significant loss of safety and security, which is what attachment is built on. And so when we endure betrayal it within our marriage, there is just a profound sense of loss around safety. No other or she’s no longer what I hoped to or and or imagine them to be. There’s either a temporary loss, short, short-term loss, but long-term as well. And I think sometimes betrayal for many of us has this sense of the other has an awareness of the harm that could be caused but still chooses to do so. And that is also part of, I think what is almost unbearable when we endure betrayal as often there was an awareness, but still the choice to harm. And that I think from just pausing in that for a moment, it’s almost unbearable. So that when we endure betrayal within marriage, it we’ve lost safety, we’ve lost security. There was whether or not it was intentional, unintentional, and there’s still this harm that I have endured in my body because of the choices that you’ve made. And so there’s such a difficult process of recovery and healing because of that, just this profound sense of loss that occurs. And I also think too, that sometimes we’re, when we talk about trauma/betrayal, just maybe the listeners are assuming we’re talking about within marriage or partnership or relationship, I think for many of us we’ve endured betrayal in our own story that then gets carried into our marriage and how we bear the heartache of suffering in our own story, the ways in which that betrayal plays itself out in our marriage, the fear that we hold. We were talking about attachment before. The fear caution avoidance that we hold is often connected to something around what we endured in our own story. Whether that was a loss of a parent a mother or father that chose to leave. Whether that was an affair that one of them had, maybe we had our biological mother couldn’t care for us and there was a form of abandonment. We lost. There’s a such loss, I think, for many of us that we carry into our marriage that we’re not aware of. Oh man, that’s my, that’s part of my trauma story. That’s part of my betrayal story that gets triggered in moments of conflict. Like you talked about the DMZ zones.
Dan: Well, that sense of loyalty of I’m supposed to be first. Not before God, but I am, I’m meant to be before your children. I’m meant to be before your parents. I’m meant to be before your job. And those would be the places where I think our experience of deep betrayal was the loyalty we each bore for our parents that when the violence of their own failure, our failure began to intersect. I would be loyal to my mom as crazy as that is. And Becky would be much more loyal to her mom or dad. So in that, I think we both felt like we’re not for each other and this is not safe, and there’d be repair. But boy, because it was so repetitive, it just left us feeling constantly in one part of your body sort of broken. So you need a knee replacement, but everything else is going great, but the knee replacement’s going to shape the need for it. It’s going to shape everything else about how you live your life. So I think even there, we could contain some of that sense of betrayal because there was so much good in our marriage. And yet, man, the yeast eventually affected the whole dough.
Becky: Yeah, it took us longer than it should have, I think to have matured in that and be curious, again, it goes back to our story, if we’d had that curiosity and then that sense of, oh, I see what this feels like. At least I seems like I feel what you feel. And then that kindness is available. I think we just had to let these puddles lay out on our long driveway for a while, and then eventually it dries up and we keep going because I do think we had a beautiful caring and loving marriage that it was so much greater than that little puddle that dried up, but would come back. Yeah.
Lisa: Oh, I was just going to say, I think it’s simple to say, it took us so long. Why didn’t we figure this out? Why didn’t we know when? We really don’t know how these things are going to play out. We don’t even know how our attachment story is going to impact our life until we are actually living our life. And so I think it’s easy for couples to say, why did it take us so long? Or How come we’re 36 years? Why did we waste our time? Or whatever. But I don’t know that we could do it without seeing how it plays out. And so there’s a futility of that. But then also I think there’s a hopefulness because we have to see how it’s playing out before we can actually go, oh, I can see how this is connected. And so there’s hope however long you’ve been doing this. I think as we begin to look back from wherever we’re at this moment and go, this is how my attachment played out. For example, I was very obsessed with doing things the right way. That was how I was the good girl. I did the right thing so that my mother could be happy. And so I was very obsessed with doing the right thing, raising our kids, and we need to do this and we need to do that. And so I’m very focused on that. And I, you’re laughing because you knew it just like it was happening. And I, there was no just a boundary around that. Do not try to stop me. I’m going to do this. And so now that we look back and go, wow, that felt like no access, that felt like even betrayal. Where’s my attention? Where’s my loyalty toward my husband? Because I was so preoccupied with my way of relating because of my attachment story, of doing things the right way. And so I thought, this is going to get us to where we need to go. And really it was causing driving us further apart.
Steve: I think too, that the way you just described that least is helpful is that it reminds us that it’s still so connected to loss, some form of loss. And if the betrayal is maybe in the form of affair or addiction or some form of maybe domestic violence, that it just shatters what was meant to be safe, what was meant to be predictable. And so there’s this undercurrent that kicks in around fear and worry and anxiety. How am I able to trust again, the one that I thought I could, which again, if that was part of our story, it gets reenacted in marriage. It’s almost, if we could say unbearable, but capital letters literally unbearable that to move toward the one that has harmed us. It just,
Dan: Well, what I’ve seen, certainly for us, but more so even for the big capital “B” betrayals that I’ve had the privilege to work with as a marriage counselor, whenever there is this violation of loyalty, there is a deep sense of betrayal. But it also brings this loss of trust. And in that loss of trust the deep sense of I want to trust, but I feel foolish for trusting again. And then when it’s repetitive, there’s a second, third, and beyond time of that experience, be it smaller, capital “B”, betrayal. Now I feel in one sense solidified and almost dogmatic in my lack of trust yet because my heart longs for what trust brings that play, that hope. There’s now a sense of feeling stuck, like I’m stuck and though I can’t trust I want to trust, but I don’t know how to trust. And even if I were to know how to trust, it’s too risky to trust. I mean, what I’ve seen is people feel crazy in this process of betrayal leading to more betrayal. It’s almost, again, the fruit of betrayal brings new levels of betrayal, which even more insights, something of that refusal to open any door to being able to restore.
Steve: So true. I think that piece about it is for the one that is moving toward the one that has harmed, that there’s such a level of confusion that almost this judgment of what’s wrong with me that I would want to pursue reconciliation, restoration, repair and the external judgment that might occur, whether that’s in a family member or a small group, their community, whatever it might be, that how dare you, well, what are you thinking? What’s wrong with you? And yet there is, that is the loyalty to the hope of what could be. And yet it is very confusing for the one, like you just said, Dan, that is wanting and hoping for something different. And yet it it’s counterintuitive to move toward harm. And it’s counterintuitive to move toward the one that has harmed us. So yes, so true, what you said too about the issue of trust, it, it’s the loss of trust, loss of safety. And so the work is about how do we imagine and envision relational, relational safety, relational trust, being cultivated, being experienced, being rebuilt, being restored.
Lisa: Not to mention the power of shame and just the role that shame is playing in both of, and both of you, in both of us. And the way that it blocks empathy and the way that it blocks my ability to see you and to see myself.
Becky: And so when you’re in that mix to be the first one to turn towards and begin the repair just, yeah. Incredible.
Dan: I mean, we do have a king size bed. We didn’t Oh, for many, many, many. No,
Becky: We started with twin beds, actually put together.
Steve: I don’t know how people that are married have a twin bed. We watched, what was that series? We watched the recent series, Julia, it’s this new series, or no, you remember this, but they would sleep in a twin bed. I’m
Lisa: Well its not a twin bed its a…
Steve: Well, whatever. It’s a smaller than a queen bed. There’s smaller. It’s smaller than a king bed.
Becky: Well, we were renters for quite a while.
Dan: We had very little space. And we didn’t need a lot of space. But what we say as our bodies aged more and more space. But that sense of even when we were in very small beds and there is tension, betrayal, and the idea that both backs are toward…
Steve: You’re right on the edge of the side, right?
Dan: I think some of the magic of my greatest balancing act has been how to stay in bed and not have any part of my flesh touching this betrayer who’s but inches from me and all that to be able to say the incredible risk, to be the one to turn, feels like one of those can’t tell you how to make it happen. Don’t have a clue. Other than that interplay between, I refuse to be the one shutting my heart off. And I also know there’s something in the other that I want to turn toward because I still believe that there is something good and beautiful and true about this one, I’m murderously wanting to harm yet can’t can’t can’t.
Lisa: It’s the mystery of redemption.
Becky: Well, it’s also a mystery because statistically, I mean those that have endured some form of betrayal, it’s rare. It’s uncommon that there’s actually some form of healing that takes place at restoration or reconciliation. And so if we could have all those couples across the world in the room and say, what was it that helped you stay with the one that harmed and whatever form harm was or endured in your body toward you? Because again, betrayal is a choice to harm. Even though we know the impact, what is it about him or her that is able to actually stay and move toward what helps almost? And I think what helps is a little bit of what we’re talking about is when the one that is harmed, betrayed is able to stay connected to the impact without shame consuming. And that again, I think that’s almost unbearable for the one that has betrayed shame often wins, and it often says, No, there is no way that she or he would want to be with you or stay with you. And yet the staying has the power to remind the other that shame doesn’t win. So I think that’s the buy in for so many that have endure betrayal is the temptation to somehow let it win.
Dan: Well, and there’s shame in being the perpetrator of any form of harm. But it’s different than being the victim who also bears shame. So in one sense, as odd as it may sound, the one connective link is that both of you feel shame. But very different. And yet the phenomena, shall we say, the raw material is the exact same, yet the shape of it will need the contours to be touched differently than for one, than the other. But can we both enter into the fact we both feel shame? I’ve worked with so many couples where there has been pornography, an affair, some degree of sexual violation. And the shame of the perpetrator is profound. The shame of the one betrayed through that misuse is profound. But the idea of inviting them to enter the shame of the other. You’ve never been a perpetrator. Everyone’s been a perpetrator of some degree of harm, sexually and otherwise. Everyone has been a victim of some degree of sexual harm. So the idea of, look, my shame is mine and I’m not going to enter yours. That is really a refusal to begin the process of a redemptive movement. We need attunement. Attunement, as we talked about with regard to attachment in this case is an attunement to the shame that you’re bearing. That’s actually likely creating even more boundary betrayals. That’s even more so keeping us from being able to deal with some of the original harm itself.
Steve: So true. I think the other thing around also what you just said too, is what helps us move toward the one that has harmed us is yes, desire, yes hope but our bodies are terrified of the betrayal occurring again. And so it is just this fear-based response. And when we are in a place, when we have hold fear, what’s the very thing we need to endure and cope with fear? Is exposure. So that is the bind for couples is the way we cultivate and cultivate safety and trust is exposure, is exposure to the other, is exposure to the other. That is what creates safety. That is what creates trust over time. And yet we’re terrified of it. We want to run. We want to flee. Fear says, run. We were on a river, what? A few years ago we saw this black sort of dog looking thing on the river, and it actually turned out to be a bear. And what did I do? I turn and I ran, my body said, out of fear, run, don’t expose to what you are afraid of. And yet, the very thing that we need to overcome the fear of in the presence of a bear is exposure. We stay, we stay, we linger. And yet our, it’s counterintuitive to stay in the presence of the one that has harmed us.
Dan: What color were the eyes of that bear?
Steve: They, what were they were yellow.
Dan: Yellow. It was a hue. I’ve never seen quite anywhere else. But the good news with regard to that story is you ran into me.
Steve: I did. I ran into you. Which, Dan, you just can’t have me
Becky: Who runs faster?
Dan: And I was so thrilled that if the bear attacked that it would likely hit you first. But we’re literally in a clump and laughing. And I think that’s one of the craziest things in the world to say, is it possible that in our humanity, the ownership of our terror, can that be shared? Can the shame be shared? Yeah. Can we actually find commonality both in our brokenness, but also in the beauty of our desire on behalf of one another to actually take teeny small risks to begin the process of repair. So when we talk about forgiveness I think often in the Christian community, it’s spoken about in a way in which it sounds magical and universal, pervasive and almost instantaneous. And that’s just nonsense. The stance of forgiveness to the one who’s betrayed. It is not something that’s going to be easily manufactured, nor will it be elegant in its process. But it’s pretty darn central in this conversation about being able to have a shared sense of shame, a shared sense of terror and fear on behalf of one another.
Becky: And I mean, yeah, in Matthew 5 it says, if someone has done something against you, you need to go to him. And then in 18, it’s the other way around. If you have something against your brother, go to him. So I mean, even as Christians, even as married as a married couple, we, forgiveness is what we’re called to do and be for one another. And it’s horrific. It’s hell. I never want to be back to back. I guess it’s made us stronger. I’d never choose to do it, but we’ll probably be there again.
Dan: So let me just check one thing for you. What happened today with the mirror
Becky: Oh dear honey. Oh my gosh. Oh well, yeah. What really? Okay, I’ll go fast. I just said, Hey, do you have a minute? Do you have 60 seconds just to take a couple steps and upstairs?
Dan: And I’m like, sure I can. I’m thinking she wants me to lift something because the lifter in the family. And I’m like, sure, I’ll be glad to be of help.
Becky: So we were standing before our bathroom mirror. It’s one big mirror. And I said, can you look at your side of the mirror?
Dan: And I’m actually not seeing anything. I’m looking at myself going, was there something about what I’m wearing? Yeah. She goes, look a little closer at the mirror.
Becky: And what did you think? And what did you say? What did you see?
Dan: It looked like, I don’t know. Somebody had taken a spray gun and put like a thousand, it’s toothpaste. I dunno. There’s debris stubble from shaving and stubble. I don’t know. The debris of my body for some reason is now on the mirror.
Becky: The problem was I had just cleaned it two days ago. Well, that nice of you said, well, I just said, well, what do you think? I just cleaned it two days ago. What the heck? How about the Windex bottle that’s been here for 25 years here. And watched him clean it. Yes, it did happen. It didn’t take, it was a full minute. I bet 60 seconds, the entire thing. But it was good not to and just say, Hey, come along with me. I don’t know. It was so playful like that. Why didn’t I think of that?
Steve: It may not happen again for another 25 years.
Becky: I sure hope it does. But I felt very powerful. And you weren’t angry at me and the like one 60 seconds.
Dan: I was actually amazed that so much of my expectoration shows up on the mirror. I don’t think I’ve ever…
Becky: He’s in his head a lot.
Dan: I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the mirror other than that brief glance
Becky: Oh, there you go, enough.
Dan: But the framework, I think, 10 years ago, probably 10 weeks ago, I would’ve felt so betrayed. Like, you’re making a big deal about something this, like how dare you if it bugs you deal with it. And yet I think again, some level of movement after what, 46 years, it now actually becomes the basis of, wow, that’s a lot you’ve had to deal with. But also just a level of humor and being able to hold failure in a very different way than we might have prior.
Steve: I love that. How do we hold failure and how do we hold failure? Well, and I think part of how in that story, but also in other stories is it’s not forgive and forget it’s forgive and remember. That there’s an invitation for us to be aware that forgiveness is a lifelong process. It’s not just a one-time isolated moment that our bodies remember harm and how do we stay connected to the harm what we remember? And we are aware of the impact and we move toward it hopefully with empathy and understanding. And yet it takes all the courage in the world to be able to do that, to move toward the one that we have harmed. I’m not well in that area. I think for many of us, it is difficult to move toward our spouse, our partner.
Lisa: I know. I think the most impactful part for us has been understanding those stories of our past, understanding the stories of attachment, understanding Steve’s childlike narrative and the things that, so when I’m connected to those stories of his child narrative, I am much more likely to have a sense of forgiveness, to have a sense of understanding when we can understand each other’s childlike parts and the ways that we were impacted and betrayed and influenced as children. And just being able to see that, because I think it’s very visual when we share our stories and we can see that child in the unsafe or the unloved place, we have just, it stirs something in our heart that I think is required for forgiveness. And so for us, I think that’s been really powerful.
Dan: And certainly the reality of, again, it’s a small, maybe not even the category betrayal, but a failure of such repetitive interaction where as Becky said, you’re in your head, you’re in your head most of the time. And I don’t see things. And it isn’t like, oh, I see the debris and I refuse to clean it. I just don’t see it. So the reality that it will require a number of other interactions for her to be able to go you cleaned your mirror pretty well, your side of it four days later. I wouldn’t be surprised…
Becky: Well, and it gets to love. I think we’re just loving better. And wow, it makes a lot of sense when we understand the other story. So this wasn’t part of our premarital counseling, which I’m not sure we had more than a half hour. But it is such the vibe now to be curious of the young parts of us that it’s really an exciting time. I think especially, I can’t imagine to have this so much younger in life.
Dan: Not to have to wait till you’ve been married 46 years to actually clean your side of the mirror. Well, folks, the issue of major big betrayal before we depart, what as a therapist, as friends with others who have had huge capital “B” betrayals, what words would you want to offer given what we’ve talked about so far today?
Steve: I was just working with a couple this week, and one of the ways we transitioned into this conversation of now what or what are some rememberings from our time together? And it was really around the category and the awareness of simply the awareness of impact that the one that has harmed or betrayed the other, that the invitation is to be the aware of the impact. And what does that look like? It just looks like the expression of sorrow. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain, have caused you, I’m sorry for the pain, the hurt I’ve caused you. And that isn’t spoken once. That’s spoken a thousand times. And that is part of what we need for healing, to be aware that the other feels the sorrow and the suffering that we’ve endured. It’s not simple, it’s not complex, but it’s both. There’s such a simplicity but such a complexity to it of being aware of the impact, being aware of the sorrow, expressing the sorrow. I’m so sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. I think that is such a healing balm for couples that have endured some level of betrayal in their marriage.
Dan: Years ago, I had the privilege of working with an individual, and again, enough, the details are changed that no one would recognize this, including the person I was talking to. But they had lost a child and there had been an affair. And in the process of dealing with the death of a child, one in the marriage had an affair. And it was so clear that the affair as all affairs isn’t about sex. It’s either about vengeance or it’s about retaliation, or it’s about addiction in a sense of finding relief in another that cannot be presumed to be found in other, in this case, it was a couple that could not deal with the death of their child. And there was blame between the two of them. And the one who had the affair in some ways was eventually able to say it wasn’t just for comfort, it was because I was enraged at how my spouse has handled this long process of grieving. And what both were able to say was that in one sense, you never get over a betrayal. A betrayal of a death, a betrayal of an affair. And that most couples in their effort to get over it, actually intensify it in a way that leads to death, not to life. But if there is that ability, as you said, to hold grief together and different grief, a grief for the perpetrator is different than the grief for the victim. And yet both are victims, and to some degree both are perpetrators, at least in some context. So we can know one another’s pain, at least to some degree, and the ability to not get beyond it, but to honor and hold it, and in many ways make a place for it in your life. It’s the actual presence of forgiveness, not the opposite of it. So I think that is where I would invite those who are in the middle of it to know that others have endured. It isn’t just now you endure. There is a process for making movement, but it all begins with that ability, as Lisa put it so well at the very beginning. Can we deal with one another’s shame? Any last thoughts dear, dear, your friends?
Lisa: Well, the only thing I thought of when you were talking, and I know that a lot of times you’ve talked about clients that say, okay, we’ve dealt with this kind of what we’re talking about here, that it, it’s an ongoing, and I think of just debris and how debris is just there and we want it to go away, but after a hurricane or after an earthquake or something, there’s this large debris that is going to be there for a long, long time. And instead of, we’re going to be better when that’s gone, but we’re going to build our life around this debris that’s still here and being able to keep acknowledging it. So I just kind of see that visual picture as hard as that is, because we are continually reminded of it. But again, it’s not that it’s going to be swept away and everything’s going to look nice and neat again like it was, but there’s this new landscape that we’re going to be building our life around.
Dan: For me, the picture of the apostle Peter is a really important one, and that is he claims that he would give his life for Jesus. And Jesus says, before the night is over, you will betray me three times. And so the reality is it’s in such a contrast to Judas. It’s such an important reality that at the Lord’s table are two primary betrayers, Judas, Peter. And in some sense, they represent us all. Yes. And in that the question is, will we destroy our life? Judas hung himself. Peter remained obviously ashamed, and Jesus approaches him on the beach three times. Peter, do you love me, Peter, do you love me? Peter, do you love me? And at the end, Peter’s furious and he says, my heart, all things I love you. And that simple phrase, then feed my sheep. So the reality is we have to have a presence that will counter our own betrayal.We need someone who has spoken words that are actually quite difficult. Jesus doesn’t say three times, I love you, I love you, I love you. He’s essentially countering the betrayal by exposing what’s true about Peter’s heart. He does love him. And in that it’s an invitation for us all to come back to we’re all betrayers beggars. That’s the core qualification for taking the Lord’s table. Are you a beggar and you know how hungry you are? Are you a betrayer? And that something of what it is to betray another human being in terms of your misloyalty? If so, then the invitation is there. Do you love me? And I think that invitation is the gift of what true love is. I’ll expose you, but in that, I wish to bless you. That’s what Becky did in front of the mirror. Very small in comparison to Peter, but still a gift in and of itself. Thank you, friends. We’ll be back together.
Steve: Thank you both. It was such a gift. Such a gift to be with you both we’re grateful.
Lisa: Yes. Thank you so much.