Hi Rev. David.
At my one and only counseling session with my ex-wife, after I discovered her affair, she openly declared that she fully intended to go away for the weekend with her affair partner and that she wasn’t done with her cheating. She showed no remorse, contrition and she was down right brazen. I’m not even sure why she showed up. Yet, our counselor told us to separate for two weeks with no contact, and actually encourage her to go on her getaway so that she can see God work. He said God would ruin their weekend and to his credit their weekend did get ruined, but not before she had sex with him two more times. I feel like instead of helping salvage our marriage, he actually enabled her sin. Something in my heart knew what I was hearing was not sound biblical advice. I felt that the Spirit was telling me to divorce but I was confused and told to wait.
During those two weeks, I broke no contact twice to ask her if there was anything in her that wanted to save the marriage. The answer I kept getting was “I don’t know.” I’d ask if she’d been going to him (the AP) and she would say yes. I was told by the church that I was making things worse by not following instructions.
At the end of the two weeks I filed for divorce. She had made no attempts to save our marriage. Actually, quite the opposite. I was told that I didn’t know what God could be doing in her heart. But I had heard enough as I do not believe that He would take away someone’s free will. She showed no signs of submitting to HIs will. In fact, she declared that she never truly believed. I had been deceived for two years thinking I was marrying another Christian.
I would love to hear the advice you would have given in that situation when the adulterous spouse is openly defiant and remorseless. I feel like that waiting period only served to prolong my suffering. Even thought it was short, it felt like an eternity. I just wanted to start the healing process.
(Sorry for repeating some of the things I said in my other post)
Also, as a commentary, “feeling alive” to a cheater, IMHO, equates to being free to sin. My ex actually said she felt “freer” during her affair.
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. – Hebrews 13:4, NIV
To begin with, I am sorry that is how your church and counselor treated you. It was wrong. They ought to have known better than to give you that awful advice. And I agree, the counselor was enabling your (now) ex-wife’s sin.
If this counselor and church understood what adultery is spiritually–i.e. soul rape, they may have taken a more strict, and Biblical, approach than what they did. I cannot imagine a counselor–whether Christian or secular– sanctioning abuse knowing it was likely coming. Yet that is exactly what I consider this counselor and the church did by not confronting your (now) ex-wife for even entertaining a weekend away with her adultery partner. They sanctioned soul rape. These people ought to have known such adulterous behavior harms the faithful spouse if we believe anything Scripture teaches regarding the oneness of marriage (e.g. Gen 2:24, Mt 19:9, I Cor. 6:16, etc.).
I digress. You asked me about how I would handle this sort of situation.
Assuming I had my wits about me when those bombshells went off in my pastor’s office, I would be firm and direct with the cheating wife. She has a choice to make:
A) Continue as planned engaging in her adulterous relationship with the other man defying her marriage vows and sinfully rebelling against God. In which case—I would say this with both present–I would be instructing you, her husband, to protect yourself from further abuse by filing for divorce. The choice to go on the weekend with her boy-toy is a choice to end the marriage as God tells us to honor marriage and is intolerant of adultery.
B) She can choose–right now–to repent of her sin against her husband–and God–recommitting to rebuilding the marriage she blew up with her infidelity. Such recommitment means minimally committing to ongoing care from a pastor and/or therapist that she schedules on her own initiative. It means fully owning the infidelity as her own sin. No blameshifting allowed. And it means coming completely clean with her sexual history and secret life to her husband. Plus, it means giving whatever assurances or checks the husband needs to rebuild his trust in her fidelity. Repentance for her is a marathon. And it does not guarantee her marriage will survive her sin.
In other words, I would not have accepted her decision to go on an adulterous weekend away without a confrontation. And I would not have argued against God’s leading in your heart to choose divorce. But I am not the sort of pastor who views divorce as always unacceptable. I suspect that is the de facto assumption–even if not explicitly expressed as such–of that counselor and your (former?) church.
In my pastoral opinion, your counselor and church failed to care for both souls in your scenario. They failed to warn your (now) ex-wife that her soul is in dire spiritual danger, and they failed to take that sin seriously offering advice to protect the innocent party–i.e. you, the faithful husband.
Sadly, I am not surprised you experienced such counseling advice and response from your church. We have a long way to go in transforming our response to adultery from a worldly-wise place to a godly one in the church. But we are making steps…
Glad you have found your way here, Michael. May the God of all comfort continue His healing work in your life bringing forth beauty from these ashes. Amen.
A fellow sojourner in Christ,