If your spouse has broken his or her marriage vows by having an adulterous affair, the deception has shattered the trust that had previously existed been the two of you. Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships, so your marriage can’t survive unless you both work to rebuild that trust.
As a Christian, you know that God wants to heal your marriage. But the thought of ever trusting your spouse again may seem impossible when you consider it in your pain. So many people have divorced over infidelity.
Is it really possible to heal after your spouse has been unfaithful? Yes, it is – because God is always faithful, and anything is possible with His help. Here’s how you can work with God to heal your marriage after infidelity:
Ask questions wisely. While it’s reasonable to initially ask your spouse to give you the details of what happened, when, who with, and how, after you’ve become fully informed, don’t ask any more questions unless doing so will really help you heal. Don’t let yourself become obsessed with the details of your spouse’s affair, because doing so will only torment you and prevent you from moving on to healing.
Remind yourself often of God’s promises to you in the Bible. Even though your spouse has been unfaithful to you, God will always be faithful to you. Read and meditate on God’s biblical promises to you, absorbing them into your soul so you can deal with your situation from the right perspective. Let God’s promises give you the confidence you need to pour your deepest thoughts and feelings out to Him in prayer, and to believe that His grace is enough to lead you through the healing process.
Learn successful coping strategies. Life’s daily demands won’t stop when you’re going through a crisis, so you need to learn how to cope with your ongoing responsibilities (such as taking care of your children and keeping up with your work) while you’re struggling. Ask God to empower you to deal with your “new normal” and give you the wisdom to adjust your life in appropriate ways so you can still function effectively. Pray for the peace that only Jesus can give you – peace that will help you overcome any challenge you encounter.
Look at your spouse the way God does. Pray for the right perspective on your spouse so you can see that he or she most likely didn’t plan to sin so grievously, but that your spouse is just like you – an imperfect person who’s capable of serious sin, despite good intentions, if he or she drifts away from God. Ask God to give you compassion for your spouse’s brokenness and help you treat him or her gracefully, as God treats you when you sin.
Keep in mind that the faith you show while going through this crisis can inspire others to begin relationships with Jesus. People are watching how you react to the pain that your spouse’s infidelity has brought into your life. If they can see how Jesus is working through your life and empowering you to respond in faithful ways, they’ll be drawn to Jesus themselves and may become saved as a result. So try your best to trust God as you heal, and look forward to good coming out of bad somehow as God does His work.
Let your grief teach you whatever God wants you to learn. Don’t try to suppress your grief or rush past it; instead, let yourself fully experience and go through each stage of grief to learn valuable lessons from it. Ask God to reveal whatever He wants you learn from your grief, and to help you make whatever changes you sense Him leading you to make to draw closer to Him and become a stronger person as a result.
Learn to trust. You can learn to trust in your marriage again if you first deepen your trust in God. Decide right now to trust God with every part of your life – your marriage, but also your other relationships, your work, your health, your leisure time, etc. Instead of worrying about how you can trust your spouse again, choose to trust God to work in your spouse’s life – placing your trust in God’s Spirit who lives inside your spouse, rather than in your spouse alone. Pray for God to help your spouse gradually regain your trust by sacrificing anything that could lead to more unfaithfulness (such as avoiding being alone with people of the opposite sex), giving you complete access to information about his or her activities (such as computer passwords and phone records), and making honest decisions going forward.
Replace anger with forgiveness. Let your gratitude for how God has forgiven you of your own sins motivate you to obey His call to forgive others who have sinned against you, including your spouse. Don’t wait to obey until you feel like forgiving, because you likely never will feel like doing so. Instead, choose to act in forgiving ways toward your spouse (treating him or her with kindness and welcoming the positive changes he or she makes rather than bringing up his or her past sin), and God will gradually change your feelings in the process.
Lean on the strength of other people. Turn to some people you trust to support you in your healing process and provide accountability and encouragement to your spouse to help him or her heal. Confess your struggles to them while they listen, and ask them to pray for you and your spouse regularly. Thank them for their care and trust God to work through them to help both you and your spouse.
Do whatever you can to save your marriage. As long as your spouse is repentant and willing to work on restoring trust in your relationship, do whatever it takes to work on your marriage to try to save it. Rather than looking for excuses to leave your marriage, look for reasons to restore it, and be willing to do what’s necessary to avoid the tragedy of divorce and rebuild trust in your marriage.
Ask God to make your marriage better than new. Keep praying for God to transform your marriage, and expect that as He does so, your marriage can become better than it was before your spouse’s affair – because you and your spouse have learned to trust God in deeper ways.
Adapted from Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration,copyright 2011 by Cindy Beal. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and a mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, speak openly about their difficult journey through Chris’ infidelity and pornography addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry. Through God’s grace they have inspired thousands of couples and have returned to full-time ministry, where Chris serves as the Oklahoma City Campus Pastor at LifeChurch.tv. Visit her website at: www.cindybeall.com.