Infidelity can sneak into the unlikeliest of marriages. Even the strongest of couples can be vulnerable to temptation. If your marriage has suffered from an unfaithful spouse, you are not alone. According to one survey with just under 200 responses, more than 50% of the couples have battled the carnage of infidelity, yet many of them are able to stay together.[i]
If you have found yourself in that unfortunate situation, you may have wondered…
- Is it possible to rekindle what we once had?
- How can I forgive my spouse?
- Will I ever be able to trust again?
- How do I move forward and not linger in the past?
Infidelity is like a flood in your marriage. When the affair is exposed, it opens a dam of emotional reaction that wreaks havoc on your family. Though floods are damaging, the structure can be rebuilt with time and hard work.
The same is true for your marriage. In most cases, infidelity does not have to be a death sentence for your marriage. The Bible gives us some insight on what you should do when the flood of infidelity comes your way…
“For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”—Psalm 51:3
No matter what side of the equation you are on, repentance will release the burden of guilt from your heart. If you are on the cheating end, this step is obvious. Confessing your wrongdoing, not only to your spouse but also to the Lord, can bring an enormous sense of relief. Repentance is also what is needed to bring you back into alignment with God and His calling on your life.
Repentance has Two Parts:
- Admitting that your actions are not in alignment with God's will.
- Making a change in your life that will make those actions less likely to occur in the future.
You cannot stop at number 1 if you are truly repentant of your actions and ready for forgiveness. Repentance requires change!
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”—1 Peter 4:12-13
If you are on the receiving end of hurt, this step may be harder to understand. Confessing our pain to the Lord is synonymous with surrendering. Often, it is easier to suppress the pain and not deal with it. God calls us to deal with the pain and let it work in our lives for good. When we can fully admit and fully feel our pain (which God suffers with us), we can fully surrender to God and his plan for redemption. When we allow it, pain and suffering can lead to growth.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”—Romans 8:28
Aphiemi is the Greek word used in the New Testament to describe forgiveness. The word aphiemi is classified as an action, not a feeling. In other words, you must take action to forgive. Forgiveness is not just a feeling that sweeps over us. It is an intentional act and it requires time and attention.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”—Matthew 18:21-22
Although it may sound impossible, forgiveness is the only way to be truly released from the damage of betrayal in a marriage. We are instructed through God’s Word to forgive. Over and over again if necessary. Although this seems unfair, we must recognize the power of forgiveness. It is only once we forgive that we can work on the restoration of trust in the marriage.
Trust is a risk. No matter who you are trusting outside of the Lord, you are putting yourself and your heart at risk.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”—Romans 3:23
All means all! Not even you are exempt from the sin that is being spoken of here. Yet God forgave you.
This is a hard truth, but it is God’s truth!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16
If you have been a follower of Christ for any length of time, you have most certainly heard the above verse. But what about the verse that directly follows that one…?
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”—John 3:17
What this boils down to is that God forgave us and expects us to forgive others in return. It is not a matter of if your spouse will let you down again, it is a matter of when. That is true on the other side also. You too will make mistakes and let your spouse down; it is part of the human experience. We all fall short of the standards of God.
While we need to brace ourselves for the inevitable truth that other people will let us down, there is a silver lining. We can always trust God. His promise is to redeem and restore what is surrendered to Him in humility.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”—Ephesians 4:30-32
We must stand on the truths in His Word. God promises that, when we weather storms, we are not alone.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”—Psalms 34:17
After the action step of forgiveness and the faith step of trust, comes the redeeming step of growth. There is no “quick fix” when trust has been broken in a marriage. Turning to God in prayer is the surest way to get your marriage back on track. As Believers, we have access to the Holy Spirit as our advocate. Let Him guide you in prayer for your marriage as you navigate this rugged path.
“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”—Isaiah 44:22
We all make mistakes. We all have things that we regret. We all need forgiveness and we all need to forgive. Many marriages that suffer from infidelity and betrayal can end up stronger on the other side as a result.
It takes hard work and commitment from both partners in the relationship. More importantly, it takes a complete surrender of your story. Let God write it from here on out and watch His promises unfold.