“Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.”
-Hosea 2:2b, NIV
Ambiguity is a main reason faithful spouses remain longer than we should in doomed marriages.
Cheaters thrive on ambiguity. This is the key idea behind why a cheater will confess to an emotional affair while continuing to deny a physical, sexual one.
A physical affair is taken more seriously and treated as more clearly wrong than an emotional affair among Christian circles. Confessing to a physical affair leaves no maneuvering room for a cheater to weasel out of having actually done something very, very wrong–even though an emotional affair is precisely that as well: very wrong.
Repentance Pro Tip:
Make Ambiguity A Cheater’s Enemy!
This is done with a wise pastor or counselor laying out the expectations up front in meeting the couple.
Ambiguity spells encouragement from the pastor to the faithful spouse to end the marriage as ambiguity is indication of the cheater refusing to change their deceitful ways.
The cheater needs to served notice:
Ambiguity is no longer their friend.
A faithful spouse deserves a whole-hearted effort from a cheater. That is the least a cheater can do in light of the incredibly gracious gift a faithful spouse is giving him or her by allowing them the opportunity to rebuild what their sin destroyed–i.e. the marriage and the trust that is its bedrock.
If a cheater hesitates to continue meeting with the pastor after such an expectation is made clear, then the faithful spouse and pastor now know how sorry the cheater really is about defiling the marriage bed, which is not very.
Part of the hell that faithful spouses inhabit is one made by the ambiguity created by the cheater:
-Will she come back?
-Has he really broken it off with her as he said?
-They “only” called and texted at all hours of the day and night, right?
-She was the only Other Woman, right?
-When he was having late nights at the office, he was working right?
-She actually did go to the “Bible Study” those nights as she claimed?
A faithful spouse’s good will offering and gift of being willing to walk through more pain to restore an infidelity ravaged marriage ought not be repaid by more days in ambiguity hell.
One way an outside supporter of the faithful spouse can help a faithful spouse avoid that fate is to encourage the faithful spouse to end it if he or she feels the cheater slipping the relationship back into those ambiguous waters.
*A version of this post ran previously.