Your spouse cheated on you. Nothing you can do will change that. Still, you’ve decided to stick it out and try to make the marriage work. Only you don’t trust him/her anymore, you are incredibly suspicious, and your anxiety of possibly being betrayed again is eating your heart out. You still feel intense pain over the last betrayal, and you can’t get past it to do your part in healing the marriage. This article gives some hints and tips to help you.
FIND A GOOD PASTOR OR MARRIAGE COUNSELOR
This is important. You need someone who has your marriage at heart. You need counsel, wisdom, and an impartial perspective. The Bible teaches us that attempting to help someone (such as your spouse) while struggling with your own problems often leads to something worse.
Matthew 7:4-5 – Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
I deal often with extramarital affairs in my community. Those who come to me often do so as a last resort. A lecture, some advice, and a few tools often will set them on the right path. Within 2 or 3 weeks they nearly always thank me for the obvious improvement in their marriage. It wasn’t me; it was the impartiality and clear headedness of a third perspective that allowed this to occur.
When my wife and I have problems—a rarity—we go to one of two men for advice. I understand my own weaknesses. Since I have an emotional stake in my own marriage, my thinking and feelings are clouded. I need that outside perspective.
It really helps.
I would make this mandatory. I would tell your spouse there is no negotiation about this. He or she may be embarrassed and may just want to put the whole thing behind them, but stick to your guns on this. Counseling isn’t to determine blame. It is to heal the wound.
BEGIN YOUR HEALING PROCESS BY CLEANING YOUR WOUNDS
As both a Christian and a pastor that deals extensively with marriages, I have found a simple, yet effective, technique to help the injured person heal from the pain of an extramarital affair. If you are not a Christian, I still suggest you give this a try, for it works.
Emotional pain is like an infection. If we don’t purge it from our system, it just spreads. Many a betrayed spouse has spoiled the possibility of salvaging his or her marriage because they never were able to get over the pain and distrust that such an act produces. But in order to heal, all those negative feelings need to come out. Just like any other physical wound, you need to clean it and get out all the infection before it will heal.
The procedure is simple:
- Each day, write down how you currently feel about what your spouse did to you. Be expressive, honest, and forthcoming. Don’t lie to yourself. Write it all down.
- Take the letter or list to God and tell Him all about it. Tell Him how you feel and why you feel that way. Tell Him how unfair it all is. Cry a little if you need to.
- Then ask God to help you forgive. You may not be able to right that moment, but ask God for the strength and peace to do so.
- Do steps 1-3 the very next day, and the day after that—and so forth.
Over a week or so, you’ll find your emotions not so devastating. You will find that when you write how you currently feel, it isn’t so negative. You will find that soon, you can forgive—and will forgive. Your prayers will change. Your heart will be more at peace. You will reclaim hope.
In regards to this procedure, a woman told me recently at a follow up marriage counseling session, “I didn’t think it would work. But it really did. Thank you.”
Getting the infection out is essential and this is a good way to do it! Don’t let it bottle up inside you. Don’t take it out on your spouse—on one likes to be confronted with their own weakness, sin, or failure. You may end up pushing them away even more. Tell it to God!
1 Peter 5:7 - Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
GIVE YOUR SPOUSE OPPORTUNITY TO EARN YOUR TRUST BACK
This will be one of the harder steps you will take. Once you are betrayed, it is hard to put yourself in a position to be betrayed again. But you must allow your spouse the opportunity to earn your trust back. Else, your marriage is doomed.
Talking with a shattered wife once, she mentioned how she just couldn’t ever trust him again. I pointed out that her fear was killing any hope she had of having the marriage she wanted. Until she could get her eyes off of her fear and onto the hope of a good marriage, she would never have a good marriage.
It isn’t fair. You were not the one who did the wrong, but now I am asking you to take the chances. I know it isn’t fair. But it is the only way. You must give them a chance to earn your trust.
Here is an idea to allow you to do this.
- Write out a list of rules on how your spouse will conduct himself/herself around the opposite sex.
- Be sure the rules are reasonable. Involve your pastor or counselor if necessary.
- Ask your spouse to keep these rules to earn your trust back.
This will help you. When your spouse is talking to someone of the opposite sex, instead of fearing what he/she is thinking—something you can’t possibly know—watch to see if he/she is keeping your rules. If the rules are being kept, you know they are thinking of them and you. It will help you rid yourself of your fears.
This has been very successful for those who do it.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU ARE COMPLETELY HEALED
Like any wound, when it is healed, it may leave a scar. The scar, however, doesn’t bring pain, it just brings memories. You know you are healed when you can use what happened to you to help someone else.
While the wound is fresh and raw or when infection still resides in it, any mention or attention to it brings pain. But once it has fully healed, you can refer to it without pain, usually to help someone else who has suffered in a similar manner.
When you find yourself using what happened to you to try and heal someone else’s wounds, you have healed.
Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.
Please visit our website at: http://www.fitlyspoken.org
For more books and resources on how to communicate better, express yourself, and strengthen social skills. Check out our book, 'Fitly Spoken', a Christian based book that explores the intricacies of human communication and expression in relationships.
See our Christian Article directory for more articles: http://articles.fitlyspoken.org