By Neisha Potter
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Under what theory can one justify that adding a third person to your marriage contributes to reconciling the daily struggles you and your spouse face? “But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself,” Proverbs 6:32. There is no worse betrayal than adultery’s wreckage. Adultery is a wicked event; it is easier to talk about forgiveness than the actual act of forgiving. The infringement of trust in a marriage is by the far the most challenging circumstance to overcome, but certainly not impossible. How little do we see the love of God in the face of adultery’s victory?
Infidelity occurs out of the self-serving, self-fulfilling, insecurity, impulsivity and immature desires of the heart. Intimacy is an imperative aspect of marriage which is comprised of both physical and emotional intimacy. Women should not withhold sex from their husbands and husbands should not without emotional intimacy from their wives, yet under no circumstance does someone have the right to defy their spouse. Under no circumstance should someone give him or herself permission to commit adultery; you do not have the right to that kind of permission (Exodus 20:14). Being unhappy does not give you permission to discard your spouse. In addition, not having your emotional or physical needs met does not give you permission to fulfill those needs outside of your marriage.
Men criticize women for wanting an unrealistic dose of continual romance and men expect women to compete with all the sexual temptations exposed in television, magazines, and the internet. Rumor has it that women should not expect anything less than infidelity from their husband if she is not spicing it up in the bedroom: fulfilling his every waking hour of sexual demands, strip teasing him, role playing and fulfilling his lustful fantasies. Generally, infidelity is not about sex, but about an unmet emotional need. Therefore, this approach is unwarranted.
If you are experiencing infidelity in your marriage you both have a lot of work to do. Rebuilding the marriage will take lots of time, patience and a tremendous amount of grace and forgiveness. You should forgive the wrongdoings of your spouse just as Christ has forgiven you for all your offenses against His unconditional love. When a spouse wounds the sanctity of the marriage he or she is able to acknowledge the glorious grace of God by comprehending the challenges of forgiving transgressions.
The first key question in deciding if you will repair your marriage is determined by whether or not the adulterous spouse is severing the extramarital relationship. If he or she is willing to recommit to the marriage, then there is hope for rebuilding trust and the future of your marriage.
Secondly, recognize that generally the affair is not about sex, but caused by a gap in emotional intimacy. This does not mean the affair is the fault of the dedicated spouse because the adulterous spouse chose to have an extramarital affair, but it is imperative to examine what initiated the affair. I do not recommend the exposure of explicit details regarding the affair, but how you arrived in such a dark place.
At this point the adulterous spouse must be unreservedly honest about the affair and admit his or her unfaithfulness. Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Revealing the truth is not always easy or pretty, but it sure is necessary if you want to save your marriage. More than likely, the offended spouse is aware of the infringement and the dishonesty is making the infraction worse because the healing process cannot commence without a confession. So be honest – you’ll never make progress if you are dishonest with one another.
Communicate often – listening to one another will be painful for you both; listen anyway. Talk about the infidelity without sexual details as an attempt to understand the reasons that led to adultery. Exchanging this type of information can be beneficial in figuring out where the marriage fell short.
Grieve and cry together; this is very healing. Learning to be vulnerable with one another may be challenging, but is absolutely indispensable for marital restoration. Share your emotional state with one another: why you are angry, sad, confused, or happy. Something as simple as communicating your feelings can make a world of difference in rebuilding the marriage. This requires patience, patience and more patience. Rebuilding trust and intimacy can be a slow and painful process, but mending is extremely possible.
Do not take marriage counseling off the table. Therapy can be an advantageous process which assists each of you in developing coping skills. Furthermore, there may be events in your past that are contributing to the state of your marriage that you should address in therapy.
Court each other again. It is important to learn the foundational reasons you were drawn to one another in the beginning so start dating again and I mean literally. Once you are both ready for your date, one of you should leave the house, warm up the car, drive around the block and drive up to the house, ring the doorbell, and pick the other person up. If you cannot afford to go out on a date, then make dinner at home and light some candles. This might mean getting ready for your date, getting in the car, driving around the block, pulling into your driveway and opening the door into your candle light dinner. If nothing else, you’ll both giggle at how silly it may feel.
Finally, the most important aspect of repairing your marriage is praying together. If you do not belong to a church, find one. Begin a new journey together by helping each other get to heaven by learning about the unconditional love and forgiveness of our heavenly Father. We love because God loves us, died for us and gave his life as atonement for our sins.
Love is not about you; love is about God who is the conduit in which love was born. Some of the most incredible men in the bible were guilty of adultery, yet their lives were completely restored. The overflowing love of God restored these men, so I believe that a marriage in the 21st century devastated by adultery’s destruction can also be restored- even to a happier state. The bible permits divorce only if infidelity has wreaked havoc on the marriage, but this exception was made because of the hardness of our own hearts (Matt. 19:8).
There is hope for those who have fallen astray through the atonement of the living God. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are becoming new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Neisha Potter is a married mom of three. Potter graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a BAS in Christian Ministry and Psychology.