The emotional pain caused by a spouse’s infidelity is hard to imagine. Plenty of marriages do manage, however, to get past the heartbreak and build a better, more intimate marriage than before. Today’s question is on that particular subject. Here’s what the reader says:
I found out 3 days ago my husband had an affair… After he had planned a weekend away [secretly] this past weekend..I assumed this was the only time He had wandered. We have been having issues for a long time. Our relationships with God haven’t been good. I feel unsure if this relationship will work. We have two small kids. I don’t feel in love. He has had an issue with porn and was talking to girls online in chat rooms…. I don’t want to leave him but I wonder if I can truly heal being so close. I feel like maybe my insecurities are also keeping me…. He cheated with my neighbor.
I know God can restore our marriage and make it better than before but I’m hesitant. I’ve had sex with him since the affair unknowingly…. I just don’t know how I could have sex with him after knowing this.
What struck me about this email and why I wanted to address it is that, yes, I agree that God can absolutely restore a marriage and make it better than before. But what this email lacks is any indication of what this husband is doing to keep and improve the marriage.
What we do know is:
- He secretly planned a rendezvous with his affair partner.
- His affair partner was their neighbor.
- The marriage has had problems for a long time.
- He’s had an issue with porn.
- He’s visited internet chat rooms to talk to other women.
- He had sex with his wife after having sex with his affair partner.
Affairs rarely happen in short order. There are steps spouse take as they head into marital infidelity, which I cover in this post. You can probably see from the list above how this all might have come together: a troubled marriage, a man without solid sexual boundaries (porn, chat rooms), a woman nearby (neighbor) who tempted the husband, and a string of lies and secrecy.
It’s not just that the husband slept with another woman. It’s that he planned it, he lied about it, and he tried to have his cake and eat it too (sex with both women). I can’t sugarcoat this — his actions were horrible.
Now if you discover your spouse has cheated and still had sex with you, you should both get tested for STDs. It’s not unreasonable to ask your spouse to willingly get tested. (In fact, if either spouse has had other partners, even before marriage, they should get tested and share results with their spouse.)
But the next step is this question: Do you both want to have this marriage?
Here’s where I’m not sure about this couple. This husband watched porn, went to chat rooms, lied to his wife, cheated on her, and not one iota of her explanation said that he was sorry, cut off contact with his affair partner, begged her to stay, etc. How did she even find out about the adultery? Did he fess up (a good signal) or got caught and couldn’t wiggle out of it?
In answer to “Can God Heal Any Marriage after Infidelity?” … yes, if you’re both willing to make an effort. But if the cheater feels zero remorse for what they did, what do you do then?If the cheater feels zero remorse for what they did, what do you do then? #marriage Click To Tweet
Now, there could be some who don’t feel bad about the affair, but they could be motivated to work on the marriage by other issues — losing the mate they’ve partnered with in other ways, being separated from their kids, having concern about the financial cost. If he’s still willing to come to the table, there’s definitely hope. Jesus often took people who came to Him for selfish reasons and turned them toward the truth.
Dealing with all the issues brought up by this question, here are some resources to check out:
Intimacy After an Affair. This post addresses how you really could sleep with your husband after an affair, assuming certain criteria are present.
Rebuilding Trust in the Bedroom. This post gives specifics on how to rebuild the necessary trust for sexual intimacy.
Book Review: Healing from Infidelity by Michele Weiner-Davis. Michele’s book talks about how a couple can actually put a marriage back together, and she includes a chapter on what you can do if your spouse is not willing to engage. That said, part of her prescription is an area with which I disagree: That is, she offers one path of just letting your husband go his way while you hold things together and wait for the affair to fall apart, and that is not a biblical approach. Rather, as Christians we don’t enable sin but rather confront it and look for ways to bring a straying person back into the fold. With that in mind, you can still find some wisdom in this book for your situation. Just keep your Christian thinking cap on. 😉
Redeeming Marriages. Jack and Janet write this blog about strengthening your marriage, but they come from a background where, at different times, both spouses cheated. Yet, they fought their way back to a godly, happy marriage. You can read their story here. You might also want to check out their post on What If You’re the Only One Holding On?
Counseling. Yes, counseling. If I were you, I’d be on the phone to a Christian counseling center figuring out how soon hubby and I could sit down for a session. And if we meshed well with that counselor, we’d continue. If we didn’t, I’d try another and even another, until I found someone who could work with both of us to rebuild our relationship. Good counseling is a great way to reestablish a relationship, as God often uses others to assist our restoration.
You can indeed rebuild a marriage and intimacy from a situation that seems hopeless. But if I were you, I’d be hesitant too. Because I’d want to know that my spouse is willing to put forth some effort to make things better. If not today, then within a certain amount of time after I’ve invested everything I can into improving our marriage.
I’m praying for you.
16 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Can God Heal Any Marriage after Infidelity?”
Unfortunately this subject continues to crop up in the marriages of believers. But your advice and resources are sound.
Yes there IS hope after adultery. Give ALL the broken pieces of your marriage to Jesus. Don’t hold anything back. He is quite capable of fixing it.
Thanks, Jason! And y’all, Jason’s blog is another great resource. CHECK IT OUT: https://songsix3.org (Be sure to follow his Twitter account for lots of great encouragement.)
Yes! God can definitely heal a marriage in this situation. And I know this because He did it for me. God is good!
Actually, Michelle Weiner-Davis’ approach is biblical.
First, consider the parable of the prodigal son. The son was allowed to go.
Second, consider the instruction on church discipline in Matthew 18. if the sinner refuses to repent from her sin (It was my ex-wife who was the cheater, so let’s have some equal time for the husbands reading who may be struggling or have struggled with an unfaithful wife. After all, unless men are having affairs with other men, women are just as involved in this behavior as men.)
Anyway, the final step in the process is to treat the unrepentant sinner as an unbeliever.
Finally, I cite the end of Romans 1, starting at verse 18 to the end. At some point, God gives over sinners to their passions.
I think you can find ample examples in scripture where you turn the sinner over to his sin.
I don’t think that is where you start. But if the sinner is unrepentant, the best course of action may be to let them go. Either they will figure out things were better, the contrast effect seen in the parable of the prodigal son. Or they will continue to be the unrepentant sinner, someone so toxic that it is best she is out of your life.
What you point out here is true. However, I was apparently unclear! Sorry about that. Weiner-Davis says you could simply PUT UP WITH THE AFFAIR, not just let him leave. You could be living under the same roof, knowing he’s cheating on you, but just letting him “go his own way” while you maintain the marriage as best you can. That is not biblical, in my opinion. It’s letting him have his cake and eat it too, or rather enabling sin.
Heartbreaking post, J. Good advice, as usual.
You mentioned counseling. So many of us don’t know how to find good counseling options. Could you cover that sometime?
YES! I really should do that. It’s a great question!
Another traumatic discovery. I would also suggest he get assessed for sex addiction. The free PATHOS assessment is a good place to start.
Having had personal experience with this I will highly recommend a ministry called Pure Desire. They offer phenomenal counseling for those who need it. They also have programs for men and women. 7 pillars for men who have struggled with porn, had affairs, etc. Betrayal and Beyond is for the wives, ex-wives. These are small groups that meet and are hosted at churches internationally.
This ministry completely changed the course of my marriage. My husband and I have found healing and now work to help others find the same.
I’ve heard of them, and it seems like a good program. Thanks for the info! And I’m so glad you found healing.
Here is my sitch, my spouse has cheated on me at least 2 times…in between those 2 ‘known’ affairs, I also had a one night stand with a man. Both times my husband profusely lied until I was able to deduce the truth and even spoke with the 2nd woman he had the affair with. I wanted to leave @ 2nd affair, he BEGGED me to stay. Making all these promises he has not kept. I have been drawing nearer to God and no longer feel ‘clean’ using sex toys in or marriage & wanted to stop. Using sex toys became a necessary part of having sex & then it would lead to, “How about porn – want to watch?”. Sex toys make me feel gross and dirty…I also have past sexual childhood abuse & was able to’compromise’ to using toys twice a month, for his sake. He also refuses to go to church which was one of his many promises he made to ‘Keep’ me. We have two children & quite frankly I have just been waiting until our youngest daughter graduates in 1 1/2 years so I can move out. I don’t know where to turn for help and even if this marriage can be salvaged.
I’m going to suggest you read a post I recently saw on To Love Honor and Vacuum: How to Stop the Emotional Abuse Cycle. You might also want to pick up a copy of Boundaries in Marriage by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. You need to assert yourself calmly and then see if you can change the trajectory of your marriage. I’m praying for you.
J, I think you make a mistake in suggesting counseling. Couples counseling is not the way to go here. Addiction counseling is what he needs. individual counseling could help her too. Pure Desire is a good place to find this. They have local groups, online groups and offer counselor recommendations. They also offer support groups for betrayed wives. Both will need to dig up ALLLL their trauma in order to heal. It is hard, painful work, but worth the effort. Voice of experience here.
I appreciate your suggestion, and it seems like Pure Desire is a good program. However, I don’t think you can dismiss all couples counseling like that, since some Christian counselors are well-versed in addiction counseling and can deal with these issues as well. My point was to get professional help and look for what really works. Thanks.
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