“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.”
-Luke 17:3b, NIV
Confusion is great dealing with a cheater.
Sadly, pastors and other Christian leaders too often do not help faithful spouses through this confusion. They add to it in an attempt to look impartial and “professional.”
These are the types who take in the confession of cheating–whether emotional, physical, or both–then rely upon the old saw: “It Takes Two To Tango.”
Faithful spouses, you are NOT responsible in the least for the sin committed against you by your cheating partner!
Some commonsense boundaries are called for doing this time of confusion. Sadly, that commonsense is often not so common among Christian leaders.
#1 Healthy boundary: Ending of the affair as precondition for ongoing pastoral marital care.
Why waste your time, pastor, or that of the faithful spouse if the other partner really cares so little about godliness and the well-being of his/her partner that they will selfishly choose to continue cheating while pretending to work on the marriage?!
Another important part of this is to have serious verification that the affair is over. Cheaters lie. It would be foolish to believe a proven liar’s word without verification.
#2 Healthy Boundary: Ending of the “friendship” with the affair partner.
This has nothing to do with the faithful spouse refusing to allow his or her partner to have friends. The boundary is about removing the “drug of choice” from the addict’s access–i.e. the cheater’s.
Also, this boundary is a compassionate and empathetic nod towards the faithful spouse who is understandably troubled and hurt by the “former” affair partner still being in the cheating spouse’s life.
#3 Healthy Boundary: The faithful spouse is just as entitled to his or her own safe space as a cheater. This space ought not to be invaded without proper permission from the respective spouse to which it belongs.
Adultery is soul rape. It is downright traumatic. Let’s recognize this and treat the faithful spouse with some gentleness and compassion.
Understand how disorienting and threatening it is to realize your spouse has been inviting–unbeknownst to you at the time–a third party or two into your sacred space–i.e. your marriage (and sometimes marital home). It is like being sucker-punched.
So, I recommend encouraging respect for the faithful spouse’s space. In particular, I am saying this is true for male faithful spouses as I know this has been a problem in the past for men.
Counselors/pastors often fail to see violating a faithful spouse’s space as long as the one violating the space is the wife. That is not okay.
Respect this boundary regardless of whether or not the faithful spouse is a man or woman.
I am sure I am missing other healthy boundaries. But this is a start. Sadly, such basic things need to be said.