Mailbag follow up

5/4/15 post continued. See original comment here.

I’ll be blunt. It doesn’t sound like you’ve actually repented and truly owned your choices and actions. Know how I know? I’ve cheated (and it’s not worth it). I had a kid out of wedlock and was a single mom. I’ve had my fair share of big mistakes and picking up the pieces to reassemble my life. I learned a thing or two about owning choices and actions on my journey. What I hear in your comment is someone that still fails to really see and understand how their actions influenced what’s playing out in their life. True repentance and ownership recognizes not only the gravity of what happened, it also shows itself through respecting the choice of faithful spouse, whatever choice it is they make regarding whether to divorce or not. True repentance and ownership go with an attitude of humility. Humility does not act out of entitlement, it does not act out of merit, it truly understands that the faithful spouse is under no obligation to stay married, and if the faithful spouse chooses to stay married it is an undeserved gift, not a requirement, not a contract.

You wrote: “My husband, who had originally said that he would fight for our marriage and that he would never give up on me, had given up 8 weeks after I left him. Genuine repentance meant nothing to him. He had made his decision to divorce me before I repented. He has filed for divorce and only spoken to me twice about anything to do with ‘us’ – once to tell me he was divorcing me, and once to tell me he had filed the papers.” 

That is not true humility, repentance or ownership speaking. What is speaking is the voice of entitlement. “Hey! I repented! See! You’re a horrible person for leaving me now!” No. Check yourself. You left him. Not the other way around. Furthermore, it sounds like your repentance was more along the lines of “hey, if I do this he’ll have to stay with me” rather than “what I did was wrong, the right thing to do is to repent, even if I lose my husband. My husband owes me nothing.” True repentance doesn’t go into it looking for a reward or as a way to avoid the imposition of a hard consequence.

“We have three children who are 8,3 and 1 and they are stuck in the middle knowing that mummy is truly sorry (they know I did wrong and that God has forgiven me for it – I don’t think there is anything wrong with them knowing that adults make mistakes too!) The main thing is that daddy told them he would have mummy back if she didn’t see the other person, and they can’t understand why that hasn’t meant our family can be together again because they know I’m not seeing or contacting him.”

Yes, it’s true that adults make mistakes and it’s important that kids know that. However, there’s a flaw in your method because there it is again, it’s still all his fault and cue the pity party. “The main thing is daddy went back on his word that he’d stay with me. See kids, the problem isn’t that I cheated it’s that daddy is a liar. He’s the one who put you in the middle of all of this. Think of the kids!” Check yourself again. You’re still blame shifting and you’re putting the kids against their dad. Saying sorry, or “God has forgiven me!” doesn’t fix it. Yes, God forgives our sins and thank goodness for that. However, it is not a free pass to get you out of a sticky situation. God forgiving your sins doesn’t mean your husband will forgive you and it doesn’t mean that your life will just carry on as if nothing ever happened and all will be hunky dory. Whether your kids or your husband forgive you is up to them. You left a path of destruction behind you and you must clean it up and/or pave a new path. Your kids and stbx are left picking up pieces because you detonated the bomb that blew up their lives.

Your marriage was an intact mirror and then you shattered it with your affairs. Sorry doesn’t fix broken glass. Glue doesn’t fix that mirror. Sorry doesn’t undo that pregnancy. Having a spiritual epiphany doesn’t fix that mirror. That mirror will always have a distorted image, it will never be the same. What’s needed is a new mirror and that comes through God performing a miracle and redeeming ashes. The two of you staying married and thriving after this would be a miracle, not the norm. You had the free will to choose affairs and you took it. Your husband had the free will and a biblical grounding to choose divorce after your adultery and he did. I hold no fault whatsoever against him. Redemption does not come with the prerequisite of having to stay married after adultery.
I give props to your stbx, it took a lot of strength to file. He’s starting on his path to redemption and rebuilding. Now it’s your turn. Show your strength by doing the heavy lifting to fix your character, really learn from your mistakes, learn humility and rebuild your life. You’re in the ring of fire. You won’t like it, fire is hot. This will be hard. This fire is there to refine though, if you let it. If you don’t let it refine then it will destroy. The choice is yours as to which it will be. You’re in the prime spot to have a really powerful testimony moving forward if you let yourself learn what you need to learn. You could be a really powerful voice to someone considering adultery or that has also cheated. They are more likely to listen to someone that says “Hey, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It’s not worth it. Stop and go another direction.” Look at William Paul Young‘s story. The star of his story isn’t that they stayed married, it’s his own personal redemption that came from his adultery. Our identity is made up of all the choices we have made, both good and bad. Our experiences, actions and choices cannot be separated from our identity for they are what shape and mold us. A fool says “my identity has nothing to do with where I’ve been.” A wise man says “my identity has everything to do with every step I have ever taken and will ever take.”
-Mrs. DM

2 thoughts on “Mailbag follow up”

  1. Beautiful addendum Mrs. DM! Thank you for adding your experience and wisdom to an already classic blog post.

  2. Excellent response, Mrs. DM.

    I was saddened by the use of the children here. Children at the ages of 8, 3 and 1 posses little by way of understanding the true nature adultery. The best they can see is “Mommy is sad”, and Daddy is not “cheering her up”.

    This is *minimization*. They cannot yet comprehend that Mommy’s sadness does not equate to true repentance.

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