Moving through the pain

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

I’ve had a couple of gals email me recently asking about a particular part of the process that they are really struggling with. It’s something that I know many of you can relate to. It’s summed up in these questions – how will I ever move past the pain? How can I look at him, touch him – without thinking of her or without thinking of what he has done? Will I ever be able to look at him and not think about the pain and the hurt?

After Jason shared his ugly truth with me – my new reality set in slowly. There was the usual shock and denial that helped me absorb the weight of his actions. Anger was soon to follow with bouts of further shock and denial; as well as hopelessness and depression. It wasn’t long before I realized – I was in the thick of grieving.

As I continued to grieve – the pain never quite seemed to leave me. It was always just one trigger or one thought away.

I was able to busy myself with my career or with socializing with friends. But it was always there. Like a heavy bag around my shoulder with contents I couldn’t seem to unload.

And it would meet me at the most unexpected of times. I might be talking with a friend and boom – something would remind me of Jason’s infidelity. Or I might be minding my own business driving down the street and bam – out of nowhere, it would hit me like a ton of bricks.

These crude reminders that yes – this is my life. My husband was unfaithful and now I am broken – possibly beyond repair. As one woman this week said – she is haunted by what he has done.

I wondered during those times – would the weight – the heavy bag I was carrying – ever go away? Could I ever live a normal life again? Free from the constant reminders, the constant pain, the weight of it all?

Below are three things that helped me move forward through the weight, through the constant reminders, through the thoughts that held me down –

Three things I needed in order to move forward


The first thing that I needed was validation. Keeping the thoughts and the feelings bottled up inside did me little to no good. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t handle it anymore and I needed to get it out. Sharing with Jason was potentially most helpful. Receiving validation from the one that has wronged us can really do wonders but Jason wasn’t always in a place to do this. If Jason was in a place of humility and was willing to listen to my pain – then sharing my pain with him was fruitful. But there were times when I had to rely on a group of women that God had placed in my life.

When it came to my go-to girls – early on, I didn’t need someone to fix me. I didn’t need someone to tell me what to change. I just needed someone to sit in the pain with me. To be empathetic and to hear the depths of the pain that I was experiencing.

Born out of the validation and empathy I received from others – I was able to validate myself. And this, my friends, was huge. To not minimize or shame myself but rather to say – yes, this pain is unbearable. This weight is too much to carry. The hurt is real and these women I trust say it’s brutal, too.

Brain Stops

Girls – I had to get really really good at stopping my brain from being on the hamster wheel. This. Well… it was a process.

I had to work HARD to set down the bag of hurt and pain and walk into an exercise class and just tell myself – I’m leaving this at the door and it will be here when I come back out. I can pick it up then.

I’d be driving around in my car in those early years (I worked out of my car) and I’d have to say out loud – “BRAIN STOP. Just stop. I’m going to take a break. I’m not going to think about this right now.”

I’d focus my mind on memorizing Bible verses in my car (my mom would be so proud if she knew this!) or immersing myself into a good book – just to get a break from the constant that was in my head and heart.


If I were to stay married to Jason – he had to allow God to transform him. God transforming my husband = the weight in the bag became lighter. Jason not doing the hard work God needed him to do = I’m carrying the bag. And while Jason couldn’t fully ever take away my pain – he could work toward cultivating character traits that would help me drop the bag and run back to him.

And when I say change – I’m not just talking about living with integrity. I’m talking about the deeper heart change that had to take place. Trading the pride for humility, switching out hopelessness and resignation for determination and leading the way, exchanging a posture of unforgiveableness to one of being forgiveable.

In effect – what Jason was able to do was to pick up my bag of pain and give me the respite I needed to keep going. When he was humble and I came to him with my hurt – he was in effect saying – I see you, I hear you and what you are going through isn’t okay. I should have never put you here in the first place. And I’ll sit with you in this for as long as it takes and help your heart heal.

This transformation didn’t happen overnight. There was a lot of waiting and watching on my part, not knowing what the future might hold – would the marriage be restored? Or would I heal on my own?

I’ve heard it said – “What God does in us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for.” (John Ortberg)

It was through the wait that I learned to lean on God and trust Him before anything else. It was through the wait that I learned what it looks like to surrender my life to Him. It was through the wait that God started a good work in me, cultivating character and strength, hope and love; and born out of the suffering – immense joy.

xo – Shelley

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17 thoughts on “Moving through the pain

  1. Chelle

    March 27, 2019  |  08:09 pm

    Thank you Shelley ,

    I still feel haunted by what he has done
    I still wake in the night struggling to breathe from the heaviness of it all ..
    But there are also days of not remembering
    Days of possibility
    And they come from exactly what you wrote

    “ I see you ,I hear you and what you are going through isn’t okay. I should have never put you here in the first place. And I’ll sit here with you in this as long as it takes and help your heart heal “

    This is what I’m hearing from my husband now after counseling with Jason ….
    this is what keeps me in my marriage , that he is willing to hold my pain , own what he’s done and wait as he learns and grows ..,

    It’s a life journey ♥️

    • Shelley Martinkus

      March 28, 2019  |  10:54 pm

      yes – holding the pain and owning it – it’s HUGE. You are doing great work! xoxo – Shelley

  2. caroline

    March 28, 2019  |  02:31 am

    Shelley this is such a hopeful message.
    It’s true that waiting on the Lord produces a fruit that can be had no other way, but its hard to hear.
    Especially in the beginning when the pain seems to be coming at us from all directions, even from within our own souls.
    Arms flailing like a drowning person, we grasp at anything that promises relief from the suffering. We cant believe it could ever come to any good purpose, but it does.
    “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      March 28, 2019  |  10:53 pm

      So good to hear your voice here, Caroline! And you are right – it IS hard to hear, especially when we can’t see past the pain. Love you loads – Shelley

  3. Jasmine

    March 28, 2019  |  08:25 am

    Thank you Shelley. Although, while reading this I was reminded of all of the pain I’ve been dealing with lately, and it brought me to tears…it was encouraging to know and remind myself through your words that this is a process and I need to go easy on myself.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      March 28, 2019  |  10:52 pm

      Sweet Jasmine – yes, go easy on you. I am sad to hear there is pain that you’ve been dealing with lately. Big hug to you, my friend. xo – Shelley

  4. Denise

    March 28, 2019  |  11:04 am

    The hamster wheel….yes, I recognize that never-ending run. It’s exhausting. Thanks Shelley for sharing; the waiting is the worst, especially when you’re not sure if it will ever end. Every day I face the reality that my husband may never mature enough to utilize the tools he needs to use to make our marriage work and to begin our (my?) healing. He “gets” it intellectually, but can’t put what he hears into action. I’m stepping off that hamster wheel and (thanks to my “go-to” girls as you call them, stepping away from him, (emotional distance) and stepping into God. If I’m tempted to jump back on that wheel, I’m going to say out loud “step AWAY from that wheel”….!!!!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      March 28, 2019  |  10:51 pm

      Denise – you always make me laugh! YES!!! Step away from the wheel!!! xoxo – Shelley

  5. Erika

    March 29, 2019  |  12:52 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️There is so much truth in this post❤️❤️❤️

    • Shelley Martinkus

      March 29, 2019  |  11:13 pm

      Ahhhh! Coming from you – that says a lot! Love you friend! xo – Shelley

  6. Caroline S.

    March 31, 2019  |  07:44 am

    “And when I say change – I’m not just talking about living with integrity. I’m talking about the deeper heart change that had to take place. Trading the pride for humility, switching out hopelessness and resignation for determination and leading the way, exchanging a posture of unforgiveableness to one of being forgiveable.”

    Thank you for this encouragement. I’m in the waiting, and it is unbeatable because I’m not seeing the heart change in my husband. He is deep in pride, hopelessness and resignation, and the victim posture of unforgiveableness. It is excruciating and every time I try to heal by sharing with him I am further wounded by his defensiveness and cold heart. How long does it take this heart change to come about in an unfaithful husband? I’m 7 months past discovery.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 11, 2019  |  11:32 am

      Caroline – I’m so sorry for your pain. I agree with you on being further wounded. I think the amount of time looks different for everyone. What I would be looking for is this – do you see any glimmers of hope or change coming from him? I know for myself, I would see “old Jason” and then I would see glimpses of “new Jason”. As time went on, “new Jason” stayed around longer and longer which gave me more hope but it wasn’t like a switch – it was a gradual thing. Are you seeing any glimpses of new? xo – Shelley

  7. Darlene Couvillion

    April 8, 2019  |  02:40 pm

    Very helpful Shelley. Thanks

  8. Wenger

    April 29, 2019  |  06:24 pm

    I believe your ministry is a better ministry by working thru your pain together and choosing to forgive. I myself, feel so unworthy of Christ’s sacrifice for me, so is the pain of broken trust with a partner not worthy of forgiveness? I mean Christ really didn’t have to pay the price for my sins. But He did so I then I can forgive my husband! I am only a sinner saved by grace, To God Be The Glory!

  9. M Kloss

    June 7, 2019  |  01:44 pm

    “ I see you ,I hear you and what you are going through isn’t okay. I should have never put you here in the first place. And I’ll sit here with you in this as long as it takes and help your heart heal “
    This is what I wish I had heard from my husband,
    this would have kept me in my marriage, if he would have been willing to hold my pain , OWN WHAT HE DID. Pursued his own healing and recovery.
    But 4 years after Dday he still does not believe “ITS” a problem. We’ve been separated for 3 years.
    I would have waited as he learned and grew
    Shelly I heard you at a women in the Battle weekend in California along with sweet
    I was only 3 months in to this journey. That weekend was so validating and was the catalyst to my healing. Still feeling the pain. Not just for myself but for also my family who have been impacted by his choices. Every day is a new day and a new walk with Jesus.

  10. Jennifer

    June 8, 2019  |  07:59 am

    Such a timely post. Thank you, Shelley. When I actually take time to just sit and think about it, my heart can begin despairing so I try to divert my attention to positive things. I am a productive, high-functioning, and broken-hearted wife. I look at my husband and feel zero trust and can’t ever envision a time that it will be different. His words and his actions don’t align and I wonder sometimes if me staying in my marriage is in some way giving him a pass. I’m doing my best to surrender all that I feel to God so He can do the heavy lifting, but not seeing signs of change in him can get to me at times. Thankful I am not alone in the journey, and looking forward to the Restore conference in July – a birthday gift to myself. Prayers for you, your family and ministry – your example and words make a difference!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 17, 2019  |  02:28 pm

      Jennifer – Would love to meet you in July at Restore! Please come introduce yourself! Love that you are doing it for YOU. You are worth it and you will walk away stronger and more ready to take the next step in your process! So brave of you to join me!!! xo – Shelley

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