Last week I wrote a post entitled “When you suspect your spouse is cheating”, so this week I wanted to follow up and write something helpful for those of you whose suspicions have become the truth. “My spouse has been unfaithful, now what do I do?” That is a question that I have been asked several times, and that I have asked myself at one point in my marriage. If your nightmare has just become a reality, I pray this post will give you some guidance on the next steps you should take.
I’ll never forget the day my husband admitted to having an affair; his confession hit me like a ton of bricks falling on my chest. Whether you have found out from your spouse or from evidence, you know the feeling I’m talking about. Your heart beats fast, your mind starts racing with a million thoughts, and your stomach makes you feel as though you will never be able to eat again. You can spend your whole life sympathizing with friends who’ve experienced it, or crying when you see it happen in a movie, but unless you’ve experienced it in your own marriage you’ll never understand how it feels.
After I found out about my husband’s affair, I was so confused about what to do. I spent days calling family and friends, googling everything about affairs, and trying to find any resource I could that would be helpful. Some advice I received was beneficial, and some made my circumstances worse. So here’s the best advice I have for anyone who just found out their spouse has been unfaithful:
1. Don’t make any big decisions right now
When you’re hit with such devastating news your emotions are all over the place, and that can be the worse time to make a big decision in your life. You should never choose to leave the marriage or file for a divorce while you’re in such an emotional state. I highly encourage everyone to try to work through infidelity in their marriage, but if you feel the right thing for you to do is leave, please don’t make that decision while you’re feeling angry. Anger can cause you to say things and do things you will regret. “Be angry and do not sin…(Eph. 4:26). “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:20).
2. Don’t request to know every detail
Knowing every detail to your spouse’s affair doesn’t benefit you any. It can cause you more emotional pain, and paint pictures in your head that are hard to make go away. At times I wanted to know everything, and at other times I couldn’t stomach another detail. I remember a time I got up in the middle of the night to look through my husband’s phone, I wanted to learn more about the woman he had an affair with, and I wanted to read the messages they had exchanged with one another. Thankfully, my husband had already deleted everything because now I’m glad I don’t know the details of their conversations, the pictures they sent back and forth, or the videos they made. I did learn a lot from her social media account that was very hurtful to me. She had a lot in common with my husband related to sports and favorite television shows, and it left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough for him. If you know my story then you know it took a year and a half for me to find out the whole truth about my husband’s infidelity. I questioned why God allowed me to wait so long to find out the truth, especially since I prayed every day for God to reveal to me any secrets my husband was still keeping from me. I truly believe that God knew I couldn’t handle it all in the beginning. To be honest with you, had I known everything back then that I do now, I would have left. I had to mature, I had to gain wisdom, learn biblical principles, and I had to be transformed. Instead of trying to find out every detail, trust that God will reveal to you what needs to be revealed, and trust that He knows the right timing. Of course I encourage the unfaithful spouse to be completely open and honest, but even when you feel they are still holding something back, just put it all in God’s hands. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open (Luke 8:17).
3. Don’t take one scripture and run with it
I used to be so unhappy in my marriage that I would actually say to my husband, “I wish you would just cheat, because then I could divorce you and it would be okay with God!” I was referring to the scripture that talks about divorce and sexual immorality (see Matt 5:31-32). But is divorce really God’s will even when adultery is committed? I don’t believe so. I know that every time I wanted to leave, or felt I had the right to leave my marriage because of my husband’s unfaithfulness, God told me to stay. We have to look at all of God’s word when we are making decisions in life, not just one scripture. Let us not forget what the Bible says about love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. If anyone wants to know why I stayed, it’s because God made it clear to me that was His will for my life. I knew if I left my marriage and my calling for marriage ministry, I would be like Jonah who didn’t have peace because He ran away from what God told Him to do.
…Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Col. 3:13).
4. Don’t listen to just anybody
When it comes to your marriage, you can’t just take advice from anybody. People will lead you in all kinds of wrong directions. If you’re spouse has cheated, I can promise you that one of your family members or friends is going to tell you to leave. I had people say to me, “You would be a fool to stay.” “If I were you I would leave.” “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” “You will never be able to look at him the same.” The list could go on and on of the negative comments I heard. It’s important that you seek advice from people who know God’s word. Seek advice from a pastor, a Christian counselor, or a godly friend with wisdom. And remember you can’t live your life to please people, you have to please God.
5. Don’t seek revenge
I’ve heard the saying “Hurt people hurt people” but as a Christian you should never want to seek revenge. Two wrongs never make a right, it only makes matters worse. And no where in the Bible does it say that we have an excuse to sin because someone has done us wrong. In fact, God’s word says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom.12:19).
6. Pray for the other person involved
It’s easy to get mad at the person who slept with your spouse, especially if they knew your spouse was married, but taking your anger out on them won’t do you any good. I remember being so mad at the other woman, but then I had to remember two very important things: 1) She didn’t betray me, my husband did. My husband is the one who put a ring on my finger and made a commitment to God and me, not her. So why would I be so upset with her? 2) Someone who sleeps with a married person is a sinner in need of grace. God helped me to see the other woman as His child who is lost. I began to pray for her, and never once did I call her out of her name or speak ugly to her.
7. Make sure the other person is out of the picture
You will want to make sure your spouse has cut off all communication with the other person. My husband felt he would be tempted in the beginning to reach back out to the other woman, so he and I both deactivated our Facebook accounts for 3 months. If you have to change phone numbers or emails, then I suggest do so. Do whatever you have to do to protect your marriage.
8. Pray together
I can’t stress enough how important it is to pray together as a couple. My relationship with God and prayer is the only reason my marriage is still standing. After my husband’s affair, I started praying more for him and our marriage than I ever had. Then I started requesting for us to pray together. We would hold hands and I would lead the prayers. He didn’t always feel comfortable with it, but he never told me no. During such a critical time in our marriage, I knew we needed God’s guidance, strength, healing, and comfort. For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them (Matt 18:20).
9. Get tested
I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was going to get tested for STDs, but I knew it had to be done. My husband got tested first and everything was clear, but I still wanted to get tested for my peace of mind. Even if protection was used for sex, it’s important that you and your spouse both get tested.
10) Start Rebuilding
The only way to fix a broken marriage is to start rebuilding it. So after you and your spouse have discussed the affair, what led up to it, how to prevent it from happening again, and you’ve chosen to forgive him or her, then it’s time to move forward. You may need to take some time to deal with your emotions and process everything that’s happened, but I suggest start rebuilding your marriage as soon as you can. Here’s a few things you can do: 1) Start dating again 2) Take a couple’s trip 3) Attend a marriage conference or couple’s event 4) Express your feeelings to one another through writing 5) Do a daily devotional with one another 6) Restore intimacy to your marriage (It may take a little longer for sexual intimacy). My husband and I did all these things. On days where I just wanted to run away because the emotional pain was so deep, I knew that wouldn’t fix anything, and if I wanted to save my marriage I had to put in the work.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me via email at Rachel@tranformedwife.com You can also subscribe to my email below for future posts.