Perhaps one of the most painful things that could ever occur in a marriage is when one spouse betrays the other by committing adultery. We often sugar-coat it by calling it “having an affair” or “having a fling” or “having a one-night stand that means nothing significant” to the person who committed it against the other spouse.
But no matter what you call it, it comes down to one spouse absolutely ripping the emotional heart out of the other spouse, destroying the faith, hope, trust, and security they once felt they had with the other one they thought was supposed to be their partner —their “soul-mate” for life. To minimize the pain involved is totally dishonoring and shameful.
Here at Marriage Missions we receive an enormous amount of e-mails on this very heart-breaking occurrence. And although we have had some men contact us that their wives have done this against them, the vast majority of them have been from women. These are women who are crying out for someone —anyone to help them experience any type of healing touch or any type of practical advice to help get them through this terribly traumatic time.
How much we would love to take this pain away from those who write! How very much we want to bind up their wounds and help them to begin to experience healing —if only! But we can only do what God gives us the calling and the ability to do. Steve and I aren’t marriage counselors —we’re marriage educators. We do what we can as God leads and empowers us.
God has given other people the ability to help them in other ways. We’ve come to know that He is ultimately the Wonderful Counselor and the Great Physician who is able to “do all things abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.“ So to Him we bow and put our trust, that He will individually minister to those who reach out to us for help.
The following thoughts came to me as we received a letter from a grieving wife whose husband committed adultery and then minimized the pain by ignoring the enormity of hurt his wife was experiencing. She asks the question,
“What do I do after he’s done this to me and has told me to forget it? He won’t go for counseling and doesn’t want to speak about it. He said the past is the past. And yet I feel like I am stuck suffering this all by myself.”
It’s amazing the amount of letters we get that say similar things. The following is what I wrote that I pray in some way will help those of you who can identify with this woman’s plea for help:
Let me say at the outset how very sad I am for you that you’ve had to endure this pain. As a woman I can only imagine how deeply you must be hurting over this. God never intended this type of pain to enter a marriage. Marriage is meant to give us a sense of love and belonging as we entrust ourselves to each other with the guidance, grace, and leading of the Lord, to help us minister to each other’s needs. I’m so very sorry for sorrow you must be experiencing.
You asked about what to do if your husband won’t go for counseling even though he’s the one who committed adultery. If it were me I would run, walk, or crawl to get good Godly counseling on my own even if my husband wouldn’t go for it. There isn’t a door I wouldn’t open to get the help needed to get past this horrific emotional and spiritual injury. It’s terribly grievous that your husband won’t consider AT THIS TIME to go together with you, to get help from someone who is impartial, who can help you both work through this painful time in your lives together.
However, don’t rule out that he might reconsider his stand in the future. Your counselor may be able to eventually give you the right words and the right way to approach him so he would be open to it at another time. Your husband obviously doesn’t understand the depth of the injury he’s inflicted upon your spirit and upon your trust level.
Tragically, his level of understanding doesn’t seem to be something you can bridge right now. So just leave it at that. For right now YOU need to get the help that is needed. You can deal with this when you are stronger to do so.
There will be a time to deal with your spouse to come to a better understanding of what it takes to bring healing into a situation but I don’t believe that this is it —just yet. Go by yourself if you have to, with a wide open spirit. Right now it’s up to you to go for the help that is needed and let God deal with your husband.
You need to realize through all of this that as a wife you have been severely emotionally injured. And for that reason you need someone who can help you work through that injury in a way that can bring healing to your heart. You also need good counsel to help you put things into place so this type of thing doesn’t occur again in the future.
I hope that you will read everything on our web site that you can on this subject. If you use the search engine on the Home Page and put the word affair into it and hit Search you’ll have a lot of options that will come up for you to read. You might also want to read what we have concerning Marriage Counseling, so you can better seek what you need.
We also have other web sites listed on ours that can also help you in your quest and resources we recommend that could help you as well.
I pray you will become a student of this subject. “Seek, knock, and open” every door you can to find the help that is available so this doesn’t completely envelop and crush your spirit for the rest of your life.
Now that this has happened in your marriage you need to deal with it. It won’t go away. It’s not just your husband’s problem, it’s now yours too.
This has been thrust upon you so you need to learn how to work through this so you’re able to deal with it in ways that are healthy and won’t allow bitterness to take deep root into your spirit. If you allow bitterness to take hold you’ll continue to be injured over and over again by this for the rest of your life —not to mention the pain that others who know you will somehow experience because whether we acknowledge it or not we aren’t alone in this. We aren’t an “island unto ourselves.”
We have a lot of articles on our web site that deal with bitterness and forgiveness. I highly recommend that you prayerfully read them, asking God to help you to come to the place that you can live without being bitter.
That which hurts us inevitably finds a way of hurting others for generations to come if it’s not dealt with in a way that can bring good out of evil. God can redeem that which is used by the enemy of our faith to harm us. Just like it was with Joseph in the Bible who had others who hurt him, he was able to come to a place where he recognized that God was able to turn that which was evil into good to help not only him but many others. (See Genesis 50:19-20).
But sometimes you need additional help by professionals to work through it. This is a very complicated fallen world that we live in which sometimes needs more sophisticated ways of dealing with all that comes our way. Pray about what you ultimately need in obtaining help to get past this.
Is this fair that you’re the one who has to seek the counsel alone when this has been inflicted upon you by your spouse? No! It most definitely is not! And it’s especially unfair that your husband doesn’t see this. But nothing this side of heaven is fair. We have to deal with that which comes into our lives and this is one of those horrific events that has to be dealt with. I pray you’ll get the help that you need. The Lord wants to comfort and work with you on this. Please allow Him to do it through others that He wants to use for this purpose.
A couple of articles posted on the Beyond Affairs web site may be beneficial for you to prayerfully read through as well, since you are sensing resistance from your spouse in helping you to heal. To do so, please click onto the following:
I’ve seen marriages completely turn around for the good, stronger than ever before, which have experienced the type of betrayal that you are living through. My own parent’s marriage is one of them. But without some outside help there may be deeper scarring that may occur which could cause the healing process to take longer and be more painful than it needs to be.
It’s kind of like performing surgery on yourself by trying to figure your own way of doing it rather than going to a skilled surgeon to help when you so desperately need the help. As much as it hurts when a surgeon does it, it can hurt much more when we try to do it on our own.
There are some things that happen to us in life that takes more expertise in dealing with than we have the ability to handle on our own. Just make sure that you go to someone who will invest themselves in trying to help you deal with this in a godly, scripturally sound way who is pro-marriage —not just neutral
Sometimes what appears to be an easier route for us to take really isn’t the best. The Bible tells us, “Everything is permissible —but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others“ (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
There are a lot of counselors —even Christians, who have the “bail out” mentality when the “mountain may appear to be too difficult to climb.” A good godly counselor truly knows the difference. They know that God can steer you over mountains that appear impossible if you have the tenacity and determination to put your hand into His and trust Him to give you the resources within and without to endure what you need to so that you come out on the other side with a testimony on your lips of the sovereignty and sufficiency of His grace and power.
The Bible (in 2 Corinthians 4) says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.“I pray that God will shine His light upon you during this dark time in your life.
I also pray that you will find the strength that the apostle Paul was able to draw from in Christ (as the scriptures go on to say in that same chapter) when he said, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; struck down, but not destroyed.“
He drew his strength from the Lord and that is my prayer for you —that you will eventually (with a lot of help both from God and from others) be able to turn your focus off of your pain and onto that which Christ will use to bring healing and wholeness out of the suffering and brokenness that you are experiencing.
You may say that you can’t afford a counselor. I’ve heard that so many times in so many ways. I’ve even said it so many times myself —to my shame. But I’ve learned so much by observing life through my own experiences and the experiences of others. I’ve learned that it’s not just what you’ve lived through that’s as important as what you grow through.
I’ve learned that as costly as professional counseling may get, it’s less costly than all of the hidden costs of divorce. It’s less costly than the bitterness that’s able to take root upon your heart and your spirit when you don’t work through painful experiences like this taking full advantage of the help someone else “with skin on” can give you. The Bible says, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many“ (Hebrews 12:14).
God said in the beginning that it’s not good for man to be alone. And yet from the beginning God was with man. How can that be discounted? It can’t be. God created us to be in fellowship not only with Him but also with other human beings. It’s a need within us that is ultimately filled with both a vertical as well as horizontal relationships. Sometimes God uses our spouse (which obviously isn’t the case in this incident because your spouse isn’t open to being used in this way at this point) and sometimes He uses others who He has appointed for your good.
At this point I truly believe that what you are experiencing needs the help of God through “others” such as someone who is more knowledgeable with this area of living to walk along side you in this very difficult journey. The cost may be high but not as high as it will be if you don’t take hold of this type of professional help.
I hope you know of a counselor or pastor who can be lead of God to walk you through this difficult situation. But if you don’t know of someone the ministry of Focus on the Family is wonderful in referring people, here in the continental United States, to guide you in getting help such as you would need. They’re a very helpful and compassionate ministry that has so many ways of helping people. You can contact them by calling 1-800-232-6459 or on their web site at Focusonthefamily.com.
I truly pray that you will reach out for this help without delay. You have been injured deeply enough already. I pray you won’t prolong the pain that you’re already experiencing by waiting. Sometimes by delaying we make the recovery experience more difficult because the injury is able to deepen so that what it takes to get on the other side of healing becomes more painful and difficult.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen“(Ephesians 3:14-21).
The above article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions.