Cruelty and Clarity

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. – Proverbs 12:10, KJV

2014-04-05 14.42.04

Clarity can come from strange places.

And peace may flow from a time of unquieted anxiety.

I discovered these truths in my healing journey from learning of my former spouse’s infidelity and the subsequent divorce. What I realized was how recognition of cruelty brought clarity to the true narrative of my marriage’s demise. It illuminated character–or the lack thereof.

During the summer when my marriage imploded and we were apart, I remember attending marriage counseling sessions together with my (now) ex-wife in a desperate attempt–on my part–to stave off divorce. You see, I really wanted us to stay together as husband and wife. And I put myself through a lot of difficult things in attempt to do so.

That was a very miserable summer for me to put it mildly.

Unbeknownst to me or the marriage counselor at the time, all counseling sessions took place while my (now) ex-wife was actively cheating on me. A restoration of the marriage was never really on the table.

How can anyone rebuild trust and a marriage while one partner actively bludgeons the relationship to death by cheating and lying?

You can’t. 

From the stories I have read here and elsewhere, I know my experience is not unique. I have heard/read stories where this behavior has gone on for years as opposed to the mere months of my experience. That is to say I am not the first husband or wife who thought they were honestly and jointly working to save their marriages only to discover their partner was actively dynamiting the marriage by cheating and lying.

Who does that to their spouse?!

Who goes to a marriage counselor with her spouse and spends this time tearing him down while secretly cheating on him behind everyone’s back? 

Who does this for more than one session?!

What kind of person can not only rape his spouse’s soul but participate in giving her false hope while humiliating her and weaponizing the marriage counselor against her?

I will tell you who:

A cruel and wicked person.*

That is the clarity such cruelty gave me.

From such actions, I knew the true character of my ex-wife. And it was a sad realization.

This clarity about her character gives me peace today. It comes from a time of high anxiety and suffering. Yet I have peace in my soul about how everything ended. I do not feel a need to pine over her anymore. No way do I want to put up with someone who is capable of such great cruelty towards me. 

And I feel at peace recognizing the outcome of saving our marriage was never on the table that summer. She had already moved on with another man but did not have the decency to say as much.

I share this very personal experience and lesson in the hope to help others. This is not about unforgiveness or harboring bitterness. My point is to recognize what people are telling you by their actions.

Do not sign up for more sessions of cruelty.

Do not be the pastor/Christian leader who presides over such cruelty enabling the mean cheater.

And do not beat yourself up if you endured such sessions.

The cheater took in the counselor/pastor as well after all.

This awful experience can be redemptive. You can learn from it if you choose to do so as I did. The cruelty you experienced can lead you to much-needed clarity and peace either while in the midst of a divorce or afterwards.

*We do not have to stay in our sin or remain cruel, wicked people. Hope remains even for people like my ex-wife. But we must repent of our sins in order to make that transformation. Making amends is in order, too, as a fruit of genuine repentance.

13 thoughts on “Cruelty and Clarity”

  1. DM,

    Strong, wonderful, wisdom! Who does this? “A cruel and Wicked person.”

    “That is the clarity such cruelty gave me.”

    I also think cruel and pathological narcissism. I have spent several years now studying this behavior and remain mystified at some individuals need to maintain secret emotional and sexual parallel lives all……. while holding their unaware partner – hostage. Why even bother to get married just let people go. Run off with who ever – why hold others in this cruel vice.

    Your point is key to recovery – blame the rapist for the rape

  2. Wow does this hit home. After being separated for adulterous wife calls me at home at a time when I should not have been their and says God is speaking to her she wants to try to reconcile. Boom! Prayers answered.
    We agree on a Christian therapist. who sets ground rules: 12 week commitment, no contact with third parties. Wow, it was nice to have a third party in the room. She could not get away with her self-serving excuses for why our marriage was terrible and how it drove her to other men.
    Five weeks in she wants to see the therapist alone. At our sixth session, together, she says she wants to go ahead with the divorce and she never loved me, Oh, and by the way, I never stopped seeing the other guy. I asked her to leave the office. I talk to the therapist the remainder of the hour and she tells me this was a gift. That was difficult to understand at the time. Now I know who my “ex” really is at heart. She lied to me and the therapist (among others) and was not remorseful and in fact blamed me for her adultery.
    This made it possible for me to end my marriage without looking back. It was a gift.
    In the divorce recovery group my second wife and I run we emphasize to people to listen to what your spouse is telling you with their actions. When they lie, cheat and abuse you they are telling you who they are.
    Believe them.

    1. “In the divorce recovery group my second wife and I run we emphasize to people to listen to what your spouse is telling you with their actions. When they lie, cheat and abuse you they are telling you who they are.
      Believe them.”

      AMEN!.Glad you two are there sharing such wisdom with your group(s).

      How common these situations are striking. That is why I am a firm believer that a malignant spiritual reality is behind them. Too many same plays.

  3. Wow this hit home. I had it ALL done to me. It is cruel and wicked, and the divorce I finally filed for after 31 years is painful on top of pain. The person I married and thought loved and cared for me, never existed.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdome through your own experience with others. YOU have helped me have clarity DM and forever I will be grateful.


  4. My stbxh was very cruel to me and even our kids. I was in shock at the destruction and pain he caused us. That was one year ago and he still has not apologized, shown remorse, nothing, not even to our kids. How could this kind of darkness hide in a person for almost 20 years? Do you think they were really like this all along or that they erode into these kind of people? It is really hard to grasp and accept.

    1. BHB, I have struggled with these same questions as well. My stbx was a Christian man and was always in church with us. He grew up in a Christian home. His parents were still together. It has been so painful to watch his horrible ‘fall from grace.’ Adultery, constant lying, abandonment of me and our special needs daughter, refusing to pay child support. It goes on and on. How could someone just turn into a completely different person? I want to tell myself the devil overtook him or something in his mind just snapped. He couldn’t possibly have been capable of this destruction the whole time? But the reality really seems to be.

      1. My stbx did not grow up in a Christian home but said he was a Christian. I’ve always thought his depravity was a result of not being raised as a Christian so your story is interesting since you husband grew up in the faith. I guess really anyone can allow evil into their heart. Thanks for sharing.

    2. BHB,

      Some might say they were like this all along. It is possible that we just missed it during the hazze of love. But I think it is more likely they were ticking time bombs. The seeds of their great depravity may have been there when we married them. However, they CHOOSE to activate those seeds later. I think of King Saul’s life when I say that. It is possible they were always so evil…but I do not think that gives us justice. If I had known much of these things, I would have stopped dating my ex long before we wed.

  5. I would have to agree with DM on that one. My stbxh had parents who were ministers – Good people. He started choosing his depravity at a young age, thus learning to lie and get away with it. When I met him at 27 in church no less, he had everyone singing his praises. I believe he used church (and then me) as his cover. He had a beautiful God given voice and used to sing in church, he had everyone eating out of his hand. It appeared to me that God had ordained our meeting. I truly thought he was a Godly man, no indicators showing otherwise. Knowing what I know now 31 yrs later, my belief is that is was ‘ALWAYS’ in him, at least while I’ve known him. He still lies and lives submerged in his secrets and double life. He has had alot of Godly counsel all to no avail. Because he is never TOTALLY honest. Like DM, i would have ran for the hills and stopped dating had I even an inkling of his depravity.

    Sadly its been worth throwing away a beautiful family and heartbroken wife to continue in his life. He has no remorse and blames everything on me bc I finally filed for divorce to remove myself from this insanity. He has CHOOSEN it all. I think he was always evil and perhaps the seeds were activated as a young boy. I dont’ think I missed anything, I just endured it!

    1. DM and Gigi- I love your analogy of the seeds being planted long ago. That makes a lot of sense to me. The seeds were planted and at some point they decided to feed them with evil thoughts and deeds so they could fully grow instead of destroying them with God’s love. I endured a lot too Gigi, it just came on as he got older and I thought that good man would come back but it just didn’t happen. They have so many blessings in their lives and they just throw it all away. It is beyond comprehension for me.

  6. I’m currently living the same experience here, though my hell happened this past winter–joint counseling, which I called “attack sessions”, as my husband talked over me, made rude guffaw noises, jabbed his finger at me, told me I was lying, etc. The counselor did not protect me from his abusive behavior and shortly after I told him I was done with joint counseling, I found out about his affair. 22 years of marriage and 4 kids. I really needed to hear your words–they bring clarity to the fog I’ve been living in. By their fruits….

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