Hi Pastor David,
I found your blog via Chump Lady.
I know that this is not your blog’s stated purpose — you call it Divorce Minister after all — but I am trying to reconcile with my husband after his affair nearly 3 years ago. I read Chump Lady because I find that most of the infidelity sites are offensive to me. I was in an imperfect marriage trying the best I could with the information I had, and I refuse to say that I did anything to “drive him” to his affair. I also refuse to beg for his attention or whatever standing for your marriage crap they put out there. We now know that he is bipolar and he has been on medication for nearly 1 year now, and under the care of a psychiatrist and a psychologist since the Dday. We have been in marriage counseling since I let him move back into the house about 6 months after Dday. We have 3 young children together — now ages 15, 13, and 9 — and they were initially the only and remain a prominent reason why I chose to consider reconciliation.
I’m not sure exactly what my question is, really, except to say that it is a long road, a slow journey and a fairly lonely one too. I get some support from the CL universe as they understand the craziness, humiliation, and abuse that infidelity really is, but that support only goes so far. Leave a cheater, etc. My friends really do not understand for the most part — they either fall into the camp of why didn’t you leave him, or aren’t you over that yet?
I find the reconciliation sites, as I said above, do not connect with me AT ALL. Do you have thoughts about true reconciliation for both parties in the marriage? My husband has been doing all that CL says — he is remorseful, has put in the hours, money and effort to address his mental health issues, he is engaged with me and our children in ways he NEVER was before the affair etc. He has apologized for his previous disengagement and his disparagement of me, my body and weight, etc.
For me, I feel a distance between us and I feel it is on my part. Is it just too broken to be repaired? Have I changed too much to do this? Is it worth the incremental slog and gradual improvements to keep on going? What does a successful marriage that has lasted decades look like even? We have been married 21 years.
And perhaps I should add that I am a lapsed Catholic who has been very very disillusioned with the church for the child rape, etc. and I find a lot of modern Christianity is hypocritical, especially with regard to compassion, true compassion for the poor, the sick, the other (read GLBT, etc.). I grew up in the faith and have chosen my career and life on the commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” but I really don’t see that happening very much in this world at all.
Thanks for your thoughts.
Still A Chump
Dear Still A Chump (SAC),
While my blog is entitled “Divorce Minister,” I would not call this a pro-divorce website. I am no more for divorce than my God is for war. That said, God recognizes sometimes both are necessary to deal with the reality of evil and sin in the world. So, my blog does address the naive and unbiblical mindset that says otherwise.
To be clear: I believe adultery is the shameful act and not the faithful spouse choosing divorce following it.
Also, this blog is meant to be a place where adultery survivors can hear an evangelical pastor actually teach–hopefully healing–things about their experience whether or not they divorce in light of it. My blog tagline is “binding up the brokenhearted.” That is my hope for this site. I focus on divorce and adultery, because that is my experience and what I perceive are areas poorly addressed by evangelical pastors usually.
As to your specific questions, I really cannot answer them. Only you can decide whether or not it is worth it to you to take this long, hard path. As I read Scripture, you are not morally obligated to take this road after adultery. The choice is yours to make.
I have heard from a seasoned counselor who has worked with couples post-infidelity that working through the issues does have its benefits in the end. However, I believe this ending is only possible if one’s partner is truly contrite about the adultery.
Is your partner truly repentant or playing you again? I do not know. Judge his actions and not his words. It will still be a risk for you. I am not going to sit here and tell you otherwise. And I am not going to say it will be painless taking the long road to resurrecting the marriage after adultery. Personally, I believe all the good options for one’s marriage left the room after adultery took place.
Also, I will not tell you that you MUST or SHOULD work through this with your husband. I believe you have to make that decision before God. I am not the Holy Spirit. However, I think it may be helpful to consider this question:
Would you have peace walking away now?
From what you shared about your husband’s subsequent actions, I do not think I would be at peace walking away, if I were in your shoes. However, I am not you. You must choose for yourself.
My God still works miracles today. But it will be a resurrection and not a healing of your marriage in my opinion. Your husband’s adultery killed your marriage by murdering all innocent trust. It will never be the same again. My exhortation to you in this is to decide whether or not you want the miracle or want a divorce.
Make a decision and go for it.
I see no shame for you either way. You are free to choose.
PS If you do decide to stay and work on the marriage, I hope you continue to refuse to listen to those telling you to shut up and get over your pain. Ignoring the pain and damage of adultery does not result in true marital reconciliation–in my opinion–but rather a house built on denial and lies.