Whether you are a licensed professional, a pastor, or simply a friend attempting to support a couple working through their reconciliation, the following suggestions are offered. They are ones that can help those who offer support to friends and family members.
It’s important, as you offer support to:
• Watch out for your own stuff.
Most of us have beliefs, feelings, and experiences that prejudice us when we deal with other peoples’ relationships. That’s what I mean by “stuff.” WARNING: Never will your own marriage be more vulnerable than when you are trying to assist a couple in their recovery from infidelity. You will find yourself working through the same issues with your own spouse.
• The survival of your friend’s marital relationship is not dependent upon you.
In most cases, the couple you are working with choose to marry each other before you were in the picture. You didn’t bring them together. So you can’t keep them together. You must set the couple free to pursue their own course. At times you will want to take control of their recovery process. But you must refrain for their sake.
• They must never be able to draw you into their relationship.
This is a process technically called triangulation. If that happens each will individually attempt to align you with his or her side. Remember, the infidelity was an inappropriate triangulation and so is an attempt to overly involve yourself.
• Keep the two of them talking to each other.
Don’t maintain secrets that one party shares with you hoping to align you with his or her side. Remember, infidelity was the worst secret that could afflict a marriage. And more secrecy doesn’t help. At times your neutrality may appear brutal, especially since you’re probably closer to one party than the other (e.g., your high school friend who got married). You will feel the urge to intervene and provide protection, but you need to resist it.
• If you are feeling more exhausted in the struggle than they are, you are inappropriately involved.
That is not to say that some of your time with them won’t be exhausting. But you need to gauge your degree of involvement. You shouldn’t work at it harder than they do.
• Keep in mind that the material in this book, “Torn Asunder,” is the practical “how to.”
It is to assist in the forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration of the marriage. It should never be viewed as a replacement for what God can do. As you seek to support your friends or counselees, be prayerful and stay close to God’s Word. Forgiveness and reconciliation are always miracles. Only God can heal!
This article comes from the excellent book, Torn Asunder: Recovering From an Extramarital Affair. It is written by Dave Carder, with Moody Publishers. This book is very comprehensive and is a great practical guide for dealing with extramarital affairs. It carefully sorts out the different kinds of affairs and deals with each kind. It doesn’t lump all infidelity together “giving over-simplistic spiritual answers.” This book is practical because “it deals with daily, gut-level issues both partners face.” We highly recommend getting this book!
There are a couple of parts that especially stand out and set it apart from other resources. One in particular which is EXCELLENT is titled: “When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want You Back: The 90-Day Experiment.” Please consider obtaining this resource.