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Interview Barbara Y. Stuart, Ph.D. Author of Betrayal of Sacred Trust

Author: Barbara Y. Stuart

ISBN:  0595343503

The following interview was conducted by:  E.Dian Moore &  To read more about Dian Moore’s reviews click HERE

To read Dian's Review of the Book Click Here

BP: What was the impetus that birthed Betrayal of Sacred Trust?

Dr. Stuart:  

a. I always prefer to work will real people rather than abstract. For this reason, after hearing the stories, I decided that it was an issue to be brought to the attention of the churches and the world at large.

b. I was encouraged to write the book by a friend.

c. I met many women outside of the research, and during the exercise, who have experienced unfaithfulness in their marriage.

d. The willingness of the women further strengthened my desire to write the book because many of them had not spoken about their situation to anyone before. The world needed to become aware of these women.

BP: In your opinion, do you think that Christian marriages stand a better chance for healing than non-Christian?

Dr. Stuart:

  1. I cannot agree to this because it takes two to make a marriage. Furthermore, there are Christian women who are not willing to have their marriages healed when the husband has been unfaithful. For some, just living in the home and going on with a boring life or being a thorn in the man's side are enough reasons for not seeking help.

  1. Healing will only take place when the injured person seeks for it. This means he or she has sought both spiritual and emotional healing, with a desire to forgive the adulterer.

      1. However, forgiveness in this situation may be a long process; but once the person has begun, there is hope for healing of the marriage.
      2. Additionally, forgiveness serves a dual purpose. It means that the offended is releasing internal toxins, which cause invisible wounds; and simultaneously releasing the offender of the wrong done.

    BP: Do you see a gap in services provided to women who have experienced life with an unfaithful husband - both in secular and Christian counseling services? If so, how can that gap be addressed?

    Dr. Stuart: I believe secular and Christian counseling can come to some agreement in counseling these persons.

    1. There is certainly a gap in this area of services. Still, who is to be blamed? If the injured does not seek help, she will remain with her pain.

    1. One way in which the gap can be closed is for churches to make women feel free to discuss their marital problems with the assurance that there will be sincere support. This help must be confidential, and with individuals who possess attitudes which are spiritual, caring, and  empathetic towards those who are hurting.

    1. Women [members] have been turned away from church leaders who were harsh and unsympathetic. Others were in no position to help because they, too, were caught in adultery.

    1. From the secular perspective, while some counselors are equipped with psychological expertise, they lack the Christian aspect of counseling. Consequently, counselees have been advised on occasion to find another partner, rather than seeing adultery as sinful.

      1. The gap can be addressed. Following are only a few ways in which the gap can be closed.

        1. if the women seek help;
        2. if the churches have a support system to help the women;
        3. if churches teach couples about marital relationship;
        4. if couples obtain pre-marital counseling and continue after the marriage.

      BP: How has your research helped you in your ministry?

      Dr. Stuart: The research has helped me in a way I did not expect. I am more empathetic towards hurting women who suffer the sin of adultery. It has given me compassion and a desire to do my utmost to help when they come to me for counseling. I am also able to guide them in dating, pre-marital counseling, and after marriage.

      BP: You have stated that you belief infidelity is an act of domestic abuse. Please elaborate.

      Dr. Stuart: When we consider domestic violence (DV), it is a situation which affects the individual emotionally and physically. I believe that adultery is a form of DV because it affects the woman in the same areas. She suffers mental, emotional, psychological, and in some cases, physical abuse if she dares to confront the perpetrator. Domestic violence causes feelings of fear and low self-esteem, among others; so does adultery.

      BP: For a woman (in this instance, we are focusing on women) who is dealing with an unfaithful husband whose actions are abusive, what is your advice to them as a first step towards healing?

      Dr. Stuart:

      a. It would serve her well to seek outside help at once by reporting the abuse. If she delays, it might prove critical either physically or emotionally. Since both DV and adultery cause suffering, she should first make a decision whether she wants to remain in the situation, even after seeking help. They may need a cooling off period.

      b. The woman should seek help immediate help, especially when children are in the marriage. She must not hesitate to protect both her and the children.

      c. If the woman cannot obtain further help from her church, or there is no one to guide her, then she must find out what resources are available in her community.

      d. Having obtained help, the next decision must be whether it would be wise to remain with her husband. Maybe a period of separation might help, if he decides to get counseling.

      BP: Many people do not understand, in today's permissive society, why a woman would even choose to stay with a husband who has been unfaithful. What are some of the benefits of staying, and what situations are most conducive to a successful healing?

      Dr. Stuart: These are some of the observations I have made, both during the research and from talking with women.

      1. The decision to leave is sometimes very hard to make when there are young children.

      1. Some are middle aged and grandmothers, and they believe that finding a new partner would be difficult for them.

      1. The benefits for staying depends on the needs of the woman and the willingness of the man and woman to enter counseling.

        a.      Some women are middle aged, or they are approaching retirement. They know the benefits of staying together and receiving the husband's pension if he dies.

        b.      Others think of the prestige, e.g., if the husband holds a high position at work or church.

        c.      Some women prefer to know a man is in the house so they have protection, rather than living alone.

        d.      In many cases, a man will not reduce his financial obligations in the home. If the woman leaves, she might have to seek another job to complement what she receives from a divorce.

        BP: Could you clarify a bit on the benefits and/or pitfalls of staying with an unfaithful husband: What about the emotional benefits in the event a marriage is able to be healed?

        Dr. Stuart: Although some women are healed emotionally, referring to those I have observed, this healing seems to be with reservation. That reservation is mixed with fear that the behavior may happen again. There are very few women who have trusted their husbands after an affair. That trust usually takes almost a lifetime. 

        The emotional benefits are to some degree based on trust and new commitments. At the back of that woman's mind she is saying that he will do it again. If he return's home late, or his actions seem suspicious there is fear. Therefore, I would say that the emotional benefits hang on a slender thread.

         

 

 

 

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