Aftershock Devotional Series #4:
Overcome Distorted Thinking

How you respond to your spouse’s sexual sin is key to moving forward in the best way possible. But the way you think about your situation is also critical.

Distorted thinking might initially relieve your pain because it lets you distance from unpleasant feelings. Sooner or later, though, distress will surface. When you understand distorted thinking, you can expose it to make room for healthy thinking and effective action.

Five Kinds of Distorted Thinking:

Denial

Seeing the best in people and circumstances is admirable — but only if those perspectives are grounded in reality. Compliantly accepting your spouse’s deception might keep your illusion of the happy family alive, but it will cause more problems in the long run.

Instead, face the truth, be honest with yourself, and let your spouse know that you no longer believe their denial.

Rationalization

You might feel at a loss for how to cope with an out-of-control spouse. But rather than admit this to yourself, you rationalize. You come up with a more respectable explanation for trying to keep the peace at any price.

The way out? Be honest about your emotions and motivations. Replace passivity with a productive strategy for confronting your spouse. Remember, this is not your fault. You are not responsible for another person’s unfaithful actions.

All-or-nothing thinking

In our romanticized culture, it’s easy to think you must either have the all of a blissful marriage or the nothing of divorce. And living in the throes of aftershock can produce paralyzing fear and block flexible, realistic thinking. The truth, though, is that you have more choices than you can imagine.

To correct all-or-nothing thinking, your mind needs to be transformed and renewed. Get input from a spiritual mentor or a Christian therapist who can help you explore a workable plan you might not have considered yet.

Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs)

It’s easy to fall into automatic negative thinking — pessimistic, cynical, and hopeless thoughts. It’s especially easy when you feel trapped and unable to come up with practical solutions. Examples of ANTs include:

  • Extreme-ing (“My spouse will never change.”)
  • Labeling (“I’m an idiot for staying married.”)
  • Always/never thinking (“Our marriage has always been broken. No one can help.”)
  • Fortune telling (“If I draw a line, my spouse will divorce me, and I’ll be homeless.)

Recognize ANTs for what they are, then counter irrational thoughts with an accurate and flexible assessment of reality.

Over-spiritualization

It’s true that there’s an unseen spiritual dimension that confronts us in life. It’s also true that God is always working redemptively. But when we turn those truths into excuses for refusing to confront facts, problems grow.

Don’t give in to the temptation to jump immediately to a spiritual truth without walking through the healthy process of facing your spouse’s betrayal — not to mention the work required to restore your marriage.

These principles are drawn from the book Aftershock: Overcoming His Secret Life with Pornography—A Plan for Recovery by Joann Condie and Geremy Keeton.

Next month: Take Care of Yourself