The discovery of infidelity can be devastating. When a spouse seeks emotional or physical fulfillment in another person, there is a deep sense of betrayal and broken trust in that marriage.
Betrayed spouses often wonder, “Will my marriage ever heal?” Will I ever be able to forgive? Can I even hope that our relationship will blossom once more? Is it possible to survive infidelity in a Christian marriage?
Do you have any legitimate reason to be optimistic? Yes, if both spouses commit to healing the wounds through open dialogue and open hearts. There is reason to be hopeful.
The procedure will undoubtedly be difficult. However, repentance, along with good counseling and practical tools for establishing new patterns of behavior and communication, can give a broken marriage new life. It is possible that the marriage will flourish and thrive even more than before the infidelity occurred.
How to Survive Infidelity in a Christian Marriage
Let’s discuss some tips for surviving infidelity in a Christian marriage, as well as practical steps you can take to heal your relationship with your spouse after infidelity has occurred.
Ask for Forgiveness
To begin, the unfaithful partner must ask for forgiveness from their spouse. Although this is obvious, there are frequently less obvious relationships that are harmed as a result of an affair. Many others, including immediate and extended family members, close friends, and coworkers, may need to be forgiven as well. Recognizing our mistakes requires courage and humility. It can be difficult to seek forgiveness for the pain caused by selfish decisions that ignored the consequences for others.
It is extremely difficult for everyone involved in an affair to recover from the consequences. Because of the complexities and emotions involved, it is critical to have a Christian counselor or pastor guiding the healing process. Another person is required to accompany the couple on this difficult journey of restoration. This important “outside voice” assists in asking questions, mediating conflict when necessary, and directing productive conversations. The perspective from outside the marriage can be enlightening and provide insight into what may have contributed to the marital breakdown. A counselor can also provide the critical assistance required to establish practical guidelines for healthy patterns and to protect the marriage in the future.
Be Open About Your Pain.
There is no part of a person that is unaffected by the betrayal of an affair, whether it is emotional, physical, spiritual, or cognitive. The layers of pain are numerous and extensive. As a result, there is no pain or thought that should be dismissed. Unpacking the impact of the affair and exposing the hurts requires peeling back and examining the layers. The hurts of the offending partner should also be addressed. Though the infidelity should not be excused, it is possible that the marriage was strained prior to the affair, and all grievances should be addressed honestly and openly.
Be open to listening and admitting mistakes.
True listening is extremely difficult to achieve. When others describe how we harmed them, we are often compelled to defend or justify our own actions and behaviors. However, for genuine healing to occur, listening without defending is required. Having an open, receptive posture and accepting responsibility for actions that have caused deep pain are critical components of the recovery process.
Recognize Patterns of Negative Relationships
Before infidelity occurs, many marriages develop harmful and unhelpful behavioral patterns. Identifying these patterns is essential for marriage change. Unfortunately, many marriages only survive rather than thrive. A pastor or Christian counselor can help the couple identify these destructive patterns.
Examples include not prioritizing time for marriage development; connecting with others rather than face-to-face with your spouse; spending too much time on social media; and not spending enough time discussing hopes and dreams, with logistics, planning, and children dominating spousal conversation instead. This is the stage of the reconciliation process in which the couple decides what needs to be changed.
Agree to Create Healthy Relationship Patterns
The first step is to identify what needs to change. The couple must then agree and commit to which new, healthy behaviors they will implement. The couple asks, “What must happen in order to bring about positive change?”
Spend Quality Time Intentionally.
For all marriages to thrive, intentional time is required. How much more for a couple trying to recover from infidelity? It can be small and straightforward. Setting aside a specific night of the week for date night, for example. Making an effort to meet in person twice a week. This will give you the opportunity to share your hopes, dreams, concerns, and new information.
Some couples set aside daily “couch time” to catch up on the events of the day, away from the distractions of children. The kids are taught that it is only for Mom and Dad. This is especially important for children who are aware of the affair. They need to see their parents bonding, reconnecting, talking, and, hopefully, laughing together.
Everyone in recovery requires the accountability of a trustworthy friend, pastor, or other person. This is not only for the affair, but also for the commitments and behaviors intended to restore and rebuild the marriage.”
If you know you will be lovingly asked, “When is your next date?” you may be more likely to follow through on new behavior patterns. or “Did you have any face-to-face time this week?”
Ask God to assist you in forgiving and moving forward.
Scripture warns against holding someone’s sins against them. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander depart from you, as well as all malice.” Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph 4:31-32) Bringing the wrong up again and again is counterproductive.
When the hurt has been shared with the spouse and forgiveness has occurred, it is critical to focus on the positive rather than the negative. New feelings may arise that must be discussed and worked through, but the couple ultimately wishes to move forward. Using the affair to coerce or shame the offending spouse will not bring the relationship back to life.
Give time for Grief
There is no timetable for grief. When a spouse forgives, it does not eliminate all feelings of grief. The grief journey differs from person to person. There will be times when it is more difficult than others.
There could be setbacks. Continue to move forward, however, and pursue what strengthens the marriage.
Keep the Marriage Covenant intact
The only other covenant we have on earth, aside from God’s covenant with men, is with our spouse. Unlike a contract, which can be changed or cancelled, it is a covenant. It is a relationship designed to thrive rather than endure or feel “stuck” in. It is worthwhile to invest energy, time, and even money into your marriage. (Plan a romantic weekend getaway!) This level of investment, or lack thereof, determines whether a marriage “fails” or “succeeds.”
If your marriage is attempting to recover and heal from an affair or infidelity, you should prioritize it with investments of time, resources, and energy.
The sooner you seek Christian marriage counseling, the less pain and heartache you will cause yourself and your marriage as a result of unresolved conflict. Marriage is a living metaphor for the Lord’s relationship with His church. We enter this parable by practicing the “art” of marriage. As a result, while creating a healthy marriage is difficult, it is still worth our desire, time, and effort.
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