Tag Archives: infidelity in marriage

Book Review: Healing from Infidelity by Michele Weiner-Davis

Blog post title + book coverMichele Weiner-Davis is a licensed social worker, marriage and family therapist, and well-known relationship expert. Many of my readers might recognize her name from her book The Sex-Starved Marriage. Her most recent book is Healing from Infidelity: The Divorce Busting® Guide to Rebuilding Your Marriage After an Affair, and she was lovely enough to provide me a copy to read and review.

The focus of Healing from Infidelity is obviously to help couples put their marriage back together after one of you has had an affair. While I believe that adultery is a valid reason for ending a marriage (see Matthew 5:32), an affair doesn’t necessarily mean the end. Rather, Jesus also said:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Once the marriage vow is made, you should make every effort to keep this covenant relationship. God compared His own people in the Old Testament to an adulteress, and yet He restored their covenant time and time again. (See Hosea 3:1, Jeremiah 3:11-15, Ezekiel 16:10-17, 59:63.) Sometimes a marriage cannot make it—and certainly abusive or sin-filled marriages are not in God’s will—but sometimes what looks hopeless can be saved.

Weiner-Davis does not come from Christian perspective, but she is an advocate for marriage and her book gives specifics on how to move from the brokenness of marital infidelity to the health of a happy marriage.

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Her chapters alternate between addressing the betrayed spouse and the unfaithful spouse, recognizing what each needs and should do at various stages of reconciliation. Having worked directly with couples to put their marriages back together, she speaks from experience and includes lots of practical advice.

It all begins with believing that you can revive what appears to be lifeless—your flailing marriage. “In all the years I’ve been helping couples heal from infidelity,” Weiner-Davis says, “I can tell you that there’s only one time when I start to worry about the fate of their marriage. It’s when one or both of the partners start to become hopeless.”

From my viewpoint, Christian spouses should have a leg-up on putting a struggling marriage back together. We believe that “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27) and that we have “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19-20, NLT).

But I also understand that couples walking through the fallout of infidelity need concrete help getting out of the pit and back into trust and intimacy. As Michele states, “…this is a great opportunity to fix what has been broken, either before, during or after the affair. In fact…it really is possible for you to have an even better relationship than ever before.”

And I’ve seen it: Couples who went from the heartbreak of adultery into the happiness of marital intimacy. It can be done.

I recommend Michele’s book for those who are in the midst of that pain and wondering how they can ever get themselves back. While there are a few places where I disagree (for instance, her tips on remaining with an unfaithful, unrepentant spouse contradict the Christian position), overall this is an excellent resource.

Weiner-Davis shows real compassion for the betrayed spouse, as well as giving lots of great tips on becoming an emotionally healthy person regardless of outcome. Since I firmly believe that healthy and happy marriages are made with two healthy and happy individuals, this is a win-win for the spouse and the marriage. She also lets the unfaithful spouse know what they need to do to re-establish broken trust and care for their betrayed spouse’s heart.

Moreover, each spouse gets a good sense of where the other is coming from and how to view their spouse without greater resentment and anger than is reasonable. (And yes, some is quite reasonable when you’ve been cheated on. But dwelling only in anger won’t heal your marriage.)

She includes a whole chapter on how to address sexual intimacy in marriage after the affair. When should you get back into the bedroom? How can you rebuild trust? What role should sex play in getting your marriage back on track?

Michele shoots straight about what’s required to make it all work, while still highlighting why you should have great hope that your effort will pay off. I love her balance of positive confidence and realistic candor.

You don’t have to throw in the towel. With resources like Healing from Infidelity AND leaning on God to help you through, you can go far beyond restoring your relationship into building an even better marriage.

Intimacy After an Affair

Broken heart

Photo credit: Microsoft Word Clip Art

I have been asked how a wife can be open and giving in the bedroom after her husband has cheated on her. Honestly, I don’t know exactly how to answer.

My heart sinks when I hear of the damage caused by extramarital affairs. This scenario is not one I’ve been through, and my gut wrenches to even think of how I would react to my husband being intimate with another woman.

What I come up with when I receive the question of re-establishing sexual intimacy after an affair is primarily a huge dose of sympathy and prayer for the couple involved. There are two pieces of advice I have heard over and over for recovering from an affair. (One resource for the following is the Homeword with Jim Burns radio show, on which Dr. Burns has interviewed numerous authors and speakers on this and other-marriage related topics).

The offending spouse must be willing to be accountable. The person who had the affair will have to report on where he is going, where he has been, when he will return home, whom he has been in contact with, etc. His cell phone and computer are open to being checked by the spouse or an accountability partner. He must avoid contact with the affair partner, even changing jobs or gyms or whatever to ensure that.

Sometimes an offending spouse wants to just be done with the affair and move on. They want to confess, be forgiven, and have their reassurances that the affair is over result in trust. But it doesn’t work that way. If you break the covenant and the trust that came with it, you must work to regain it. I believe marriage is worth that effort.

The couple must address issues in their own relationship. Of course a spouse should never cheat. However, an affair usually (not always) occurs when needs are going unmet in the marriage. Like or it not, that’s an us problem, not a him problem. If only those problem areas had been addressed before the affair . . .

But you are where you are, and those who commit to improving their marriage often report experiencing the very best years of their relationship after the affair. Communicate, seek counseling, find good marriage resources, and discover together what will make you feel loved, secure, and intimate in your marriage.

Additionally, I suggest that all couples should talk about appropriate boundaries. I discussed my own boundaries in The Rule.

With regard to sexual intimacy, I suspect it’s like every other distraction, albeit a huge one. A wife may get to the bedroom with her husband, and her brain wanders to thoughts about him cheating. The hurt, resentment, and distrust cause her to tense and a wall to form. The best way to fight doubt and fear is to replace it with truth and love. If your spouse is doing what he should to reestablish trust and work on your relationship, you can remind yourself over and over that he chose you, that he wants you. Your truth will be that you are not sleeping with the guy with whom you had a bad marriage, the one who cheated on you. This is a new beginning, a new man, a new marriage — renewed by God. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones takes time, but it can be done.

Now I’m going to send you to a fabulous article on the website of fellow blogger, Julie Sibert at Intimacy in Marriage. One of her readers posted the story of how her marriage survived infidelity. At the end of the post, Julie provides links to stories and resources for those who have gone or are going through infidelity in a marriage.

If you have your own wisdom for getting past an affair, please share for others in the comments. You may help other marriages with your story of hardship or healing.

My prayers do indeed go out to those of you who have been hit with the pain of an affair. Thankfully, there are many couples who have recovered, and a couple committed to God can go on to experience their best years of marriage yet.

(Note: I used the husband cheating example here; I believe a majority of my readers are women and I typically aim my posts at them. I do appreciate my male readers. So if it was a wife who cheated, the pronouns can be changed.)

At the end of the post, Julie provides links to stories and resources for those who have gone or are going through infidelity in a marriage.