Mailbag: Can he change?

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Marjie wrote,

I have been married for 26 years. 22 years ago I found out my husband was going to prostitutes, massage parlors ect. At the time we had 2 children in diapers. I was completely destroyed, but because of our kids I agreed to work it out.

My husband isn’t an easy person, he was raised by terrible parents who have modeled abuse, mysogyny, and narcissism. I have always thought he had a good heart underneath it all, and a deep desire to change the trajectory of his beginnings. He has actually become a kinder more thoughtful person as the years have gone by, and I thought we had a fairly good marriage. Active sex life, good communication, the works.

Well, a week ago I felt something wrong (I have felt it before with no real evidence )I found out he has been going to massage parlors again. I told him straight away that I am done. He is beside himself, he seems totally broken. He is begging me not to leave, but I don’t see how I can stay. I don’t have young children anymore. I really want to leave, but I don’t want to do the wrong thing. I want to be in God’s will. Can he change? Can I trust him? I feel great pity for him.


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Dear Marjie,

To be clear, it is not against God’s will for a faithful spouse to leave a cheater. God gives us permission to divorce someone who is sexually unfaithful (e.g. Jeremiah 3:8, Mt. 1:19, 5:32, and 19:9). This permission is not conditioned on whether or not the act was once or multiple times as clearly it is in your husband’s case. God does not give us permission to sin.

As to whether or not he can change, I think that is the wrong question to ask here. The facts are that he did not change when given the gift of a second chance twenty-two years ago. He went back to his old, sinful, unfaithful ways.

Plus, you mention having this feeling that something was wrong before this latest feeling was confirmed.  This is suggestive that you discovered the mere tip of the cheating iceberg.

The tears he cries are tears about facing consequences for his treacherous, sinful behavior. Remember, he already knew this was unacceptable behavior and hid it from you for some duration of time.

Remember: You had to catch him!

You can still pity him and divorce him. We can still feel pity for a criminal while expecting them to face the consequences that come with committing the crime.

I’m sorry; so, please don’t send me to jail for robbing the bank is not going to cut it with a judge with a convicted criminal.

In short: if your husband did not want to face loosing you, he shouldn’t have repeated his unfaithful behavior (not to mention the deceit that went along with it).

He is bad bet at this point. By cheating on your repeatedly, he has demonstrated both the ability and willingness to be unfaithful to you when you are not looking. Past behavior tends to indicate future behavior (like his cheating twenty-two years ago did in this case).

You gave him a second chance. He blew it. I do not think it would be wise to give him another chance to betray your trust. 

As I read the Bible, I do not see God expecting faithful spouses to remain married to someone who has destroyed a marriage through sexual infidelity. Applied here, you are free to divorce your cheating husband without shame.

Hope that helps!

-DM

 

1 thought on “Mailbag: Can he change?”

  1. Marjie, they don’t change. My ex had an affair when I was pregnant with our second child and at the time our son was one year old. At the same time he went to Canada at least ten times and received 100% naked lap dances (you can touch the stripper there) while there. Knowing the pervert that he is, he probably spent time in the VIP rooms getting more sexual favors. When I found out, I forgave him. I wish I would have divorced him. 14 years after my daughter was born, I caught him out with another woman on a “drinks date” until 1:30am. Lots of lying. There’s been other stuff over the years that was questionable and also lots of lies I’ve caught him in. Can he change? Yes. Will he change. No. I’m sorry you are going through this. 🙁

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