In my case, no papers have been filed but we’re on our 3rd separation and this time my husband says that he knows 100% he wants a divorce. It’s clear that he’s had emotional affairs or at the very least has been having inappropriate friendships with other women. I’ve only known about these flirtations for about a year and I have repeatedly asked him to stop. Partly through accident and partly through snooping, i discovered that he was going to erotic massage parlors (he denies any sexual contact and says he really only got appropriate massages during his lunch breaks as this place is down the street from his work); he was going to lunches and dinners with groups of women at work, including the woman he told me had developed feelings for though he also denied they ever were together alone and that he never told her how he felt; and the straw that broke the camels back is that he told me he was working late and I found out that he went to a concert with another woman from work. In all cases he continues to deny ever having physical affairs and I’m not sure what to believe. Part of me wants to know if the infidelities were physical or if they stopped at just emotional. He’s lied so much even in the face of evidence about other things and I’m not sure what the truth is.
I went to church for counseling and guidance on several issues. I was told that I was looking for justifications to divorce my husband instead of praying for him. I’m a believer and he is not. I was willing to stay with him even though we are unevenly yoked as I was told repeatedly by church that this is what happens when a believer marries a non-believer. But he’s left our home and through a year of me asking him to break off all inappropriate friendships with other women, he still hasn’t and has no wish to. He says he just wants to be happy now and wants me to move on and heal. I get so confused as to whether I should be praying for my prodigal to return or if it’s okay for me consider letting go because he’s not shown any remorse. And with the extent of lying I’m not sure I could ever trust him again. Forgive him of course. But trust? I doubt it.
First, I want to thank you for sharing your story and writing into Divorce Minister. I am honored that you would want to read my perspective on your situation.
My heart goes out to you as what you described must be incredibly painful and lonely as an experience. By coming here, I hope you find some spiritual support and encouragement from all who visit sharing similar experiences.
Let me begin my response by laying out a pertinent Scripture:
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. – I Corinthians 7:15, KJV
Your current husband is both an unbelieving spouse and has physically departed (for the third time!). The clear Biblical teaching here is to allow the ending of your marriage via divorce. And if that is not enough, you have solid evidence of an emotional, romantic affair, minimally, that strongly suggests a divorce is allowed under Jesus’ provision for such as that is a sexual violation of the marriage broadly speaking (see the exception for “porneia” in Mt. 5:32 and Mt 19:9).
Also, by the way, I would certainly consider visits to an erotic message parlor for services as engaging in sexual immorality–i.e. the translation of “porneia.”
How your church counseled you makes me angry! So, let me attempt to correct their pastoral epic fail:
I went to church for counseling and guidance on several issues. I was told that I was looking for justifications to divorce my husband instead of praying for him.
Talk about minimization of your pain and the violations of your marriage! This sort of response says to me that your church counselors takes divorce as more problematic than adultery or infidelity. That is not a Biblical stance.
Shaming someone who has legitimate grounds for divorce is downright cruel. You came to them asking for spiritual counsel regarding your situation. They refused to offer what God offers in the Bible for infidelity victims like yourself. Instead of mercy, they offered heaping portions of guilt-tripping and shame!
And it only gets worse…
I’m a believer and he is not. I was willing to stay with him even though we are unevenly yoked as I was told repeatedly by church that this is what happens when a believer marries a non-believer.
This really makes me angry!
So, this church teaches that non-believers are inherently cheaters?! Apparently, so. What a lie! It is absolutely disgusting.
You do not have to be a Christian to be a person of integrity and character. Plenty of non-Christians remain faithful for life in their marriages. In fact, you can find non-Christians whose demonstration of character and integrity puts many Christians to shame.
Conversely, being an avowed Christian does not protect a marriage from infidelity. Plenty of professing Christians have cheated on their spouses because they lacked integrity and character. I am a living example of someone who married an avowed Christian yet was still a victim of her infidelity.
Infidelity is not a faith problem. It is a character deficiency problem.
All faiths have people in that camp, I am convinced.
If that is not bad enough, it seems your church counselors are treating your trauma as your “due punishment” for marrying a non-believer. I find that disgusting as well. Once again, they tend blame as oppose to extend mercy to you.
I do not care what someone did. No one deserves to be treated with such contempt as your husband has treated you by being unfaithful.
Finally, it sounds to me like you have already made your decision about the fate of your marriage:
And with the extent of lying I’m not sure I could ever trust him again. Forgive him of course. But trust? I doubt it.
What you seem to be asking in the message is whether or not it is okay to let go of the marriage. The answer to that is an emphatic “Yes!” as the Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 7:15.
In fact, I would add that staying in a marriage relationship with any remorseless cheater puts you at further risk down the road–financially, emotionally, and even physically. Have you tested yourself for STDs? I suggest you do so considering your husband’s word is worthless regarding his extracurricular activities.
Ultimately, the decision is yours to make, Confused. You are the one who has to live with the direct consequences either way. While your church leaders are unwilling to give you permission to divorce, God’s word rightly applied in your circumstances–as I see it–does. The choice is up to you–for now–whether you act on that permission or not. No shame for you either way.
Your brother in Christ,