Christian Counselor Spokane
While it is certainly true that both husbands and wives commit the sin of adultery, this article is written from the standpoint of the woman whose husband has been unfaithful. In the future, perhaps another article will be written from the point of view of the cheated on husband, but this time we want to examine this issue from the point of view of the woman whose husband has broken his marriage covenant. I guess I am writing the woman’s perspective first because it seems only right that I, as a man, should submit to the examination first.
There is not a man alive who does not need forgiveness. The Apostle Matthew would concur with this. He speaks very plainly when he says that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Since every married man has, at some point (and perhaps many points), experienced lust for someone other than his wife, it follows that in some sense, every wife is the victim of adultery.
However, there is a difference between adultery in thought and adultery in act. I’m sure that when you clicked on the link to this article, you had actual adultery in mind. You’re looking for the strength to forgive your husband who has had an affair with another woman.
Or maybe you’re thinking of an incident when your husband sought an inappropriate level of emotional intimacy with a co-worker. Perhaps it began as simple friendship, but over time became something deeper. Maybe it was less about the sex than the emotional connection. Either way, you wonder if you can open up to him, put your trust in him, share your innermost thoughts with him, or make love to him ever again.
The Bible on Forgiveness
The Scriptures are crystal clear on the question, “Should I forgive him?” The clear answer is that any sin of any size demands forgiveness. As Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (4:32). The gospel of Mark urges us, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (11:25).
Beyond the question of whether to forgive, there is a more difficult question: “How can I forgive him?” Knowing that you should forgive and knowing how you could forgive are two different things. You might know that you should forgive, but find yourself wondering how you ever could.
Exposing the Situation to the Light of the Word
Shine the light of God’s Word on the situation. Again in Ephesians, Paul says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (5:11). This means (among other things) a full disclosure from your husband of the extent of his sexual sin as well as a confession of the reasons behind why he committed the sin in the first place.
This will not be easy for either of you, but if you want to have even the smallest chance of actually forgiving your husband, you have to wash the inside of the cup as well as the outside. This begins with exposing the sin to the light of truth and confession. As a first step, he must be willing to admit what he has done, and why. Only after truth has been expressed can trust be restored. As tough as it can be to face the truth, at least it opens the door to healing. Without truth, there is no hope.
On your part, you have to be brutally honest with your husband about how you feel about him and what he has done. This will help ensure “that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble” (Hebrews 12:15). If it is important for your husband to confess the truth of his actions, it is no less important for you to express the truth of your feelings. It may not be easy to express exactly how you are feeling, but harboring and burying the hurt emotions will only allow them to fester and send out roots of bitterness.
Throughout the process, it is critical to remember the words of the Apostle John: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). A caution needs to be issued here: Truth can be used like a scalpel to remove an infection so that grace can be applied to reveal, heal, and free – but truth can also be used like a sword to manipulate, inflict suffering and pain, and ultimately cause destruction. It is crucial to keep watch on your heart throughout this process.
Victory Through Joint Effort
Going through this process alone is both dangerous and lonely. You may wonder if your husband’s adultery was really your fault because you were not all that you should have been as a wife. Christian counseling for adultery recovery can help guide you through the process and toward a view of adultery that is not hampered by myths about cause and effect. In reality, even rock solid, happy marriages are not immune to potential unfaithfulness. At Spokane Christian Counseling, we offer experienced counselors to walk with you through this difficult time of your life.
“Fog,” courtesy of Patrick Zacharias, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stand with Me,” courtesy of Bruno Aguirre, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Love Story,” courtesy of Scott Webb, unsplash.com, CC0 License