Monday, June 9, 2014
3 Steps to Take When Your Spouse's Adultery Becomes Known
I told my wife the worst news ever when I had to tell her about my adultery. It was a horrible day that flanked her and forever impacted her and our marriage, family and lives. God has been working on, in, and through us despite the evil, but it's no easy process. We are nearing three years since that dark day. We've had some days recently that felt nearly as overwhelming and uncertain as in those early months. It's evidence of the process that doesn't simply go away or cease.
The lingering effects tend to stay around. God uses it to prune, mature, teach, guide, and reveal areas of our hearts that still need work. I have prayed recently that God would either provide relief, or show me where I am still lacking in faith and surrender. He is faithful and graciously answers and hasn't given up on us. He's good.
When you discover your spouse has committed adultery, your whole world is turned upside down. A "bomb" goes off that causes pain, suffering, devastation, confusion, fear, anger, and all sorts of emotions. It's hard to know what to do when it comes out, as both the betrayer and betrayed. If you are facing this situation, then here are three things you each will need to do in the first few weeks and months in order to work through the "hell" and difficulty. You don't want it to drag on and linger for years, keeping you stuck and vulnerable to problems later down the road.
These are assuming you and your spouse are trying to work on things. After the dust settles a bit, you will know if he/she is still serious. As Jeff Olson says, "Time will either expose you or promote you." If your unfaithful spouse says he/she doesn't love you anymore, then consider the book, "I Don't Love You Anymore," by David Clarke.
As the Betrayed Spouse, you need to:
#1. Get mad. Though you will likely feel stunned, shocked, angry, sad, and confused, you need to get mad. Your spouse has cheated on you and done awful things. Glazing over the facts will keep you stuck. Get mad. Get it out. Demand the truth. Demand the affair end. Get the details out and in the open. Let yourself feel the weight of what happened ASAP. The longer you delay this process, the harder it will be. It will be hard either way you go, so it's best to let the pain out now. You will be tempted to want to tell yourself that things are getting better, but the reality is they aren't better yet. You just had a bomb dropped into the middle of your heart and life and there is debris everywhere. Hopefully the walls that have kept you and your spouse stuck are down and you can reconnect. However, don't use this new found connection as a way to justify sweeping it under the rug and rushing the process or avoiding it. Get mad now, so later on you can fully forgive and be free from the worry, concerns, the what ifs, and "wish I hads."
2. Guard your heart. You have been betrayed, so now is not the time to nurture your unfaithful spouse, despite how sorry or ashamed he/she feels. His/her job is to win you back. He/she needs to nurture and tend to you, not the other way around. Don't let fear of him/her running back to the other person. You can't make him/her be faithful and you can't make him/her be unfaithful.
3. Get close to God.This is a time of sorrow, shock, anger, fear, sadness. God is the One who is with you always and will help hold you and lead you, comfort you. Get connected to Him and let His love and peace fill you as you face such pain and turmoil. Read, journal, pray. Focus on the here and now and try to give the results and outcome to Him. You can't control the variables in the situation. Walk through it, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.
Each week, I have new couples come to counseling with adultery. It's helpful and humbling to me since I have been through it, since it keeps the reality of the pain and difficulty at the forefront of my mind. It's sad that it is happening so much around us. I hope to use our story to give couples hope. God is the only One who can take such evil and turn it into something good. That's my prayer each day.