Mate Date Nonsense

Excuses might be found for a thief
    who steals because he is starving.
But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole,
    even if he has to sell everything in his house.

-Proverbs 6:30-31, NLT


Dating your spouse.

It is not that I am against having one-on-one romantic evenings or vacations with one’s spouse. I think those are wonderful. Lots of fun. They are good investments in the marriage.

But I am against dating one’s spouse as a primary strategy in repairing a marriage ravaged by emotional affairs and/or adultery. Pastorally speaking–as I am a pastor and not a marriage counselor–suggesting spouse-dating after infidelity sends the wrong messages about sin and its origin:

If only you had paid her more attention, your wife wouldn’t have cheated on you with that guy from the bar scene.

If only you had worn more sexy lingerie and been more available, he wouldn’t have strayed with that other woman.

Notice: These suggestions–while possibly not spoken explicitly–are blameshifts. The victim of the infidelity is blamed for being victimized. That is the number one reason I reject this sort of advice as a pastor.

It is unjust and cruel.

Second, I reject it as it is bad theology. Sin does not come from outside of us. Our spouse does not make us sin. Conversely, we did not make our sin against us. James is very clear on this matter (see James 1:13-15). Jesus is clear as well (e.g. Mark 7:20-23). The sin flows out of the heart of the sinner alone.

Returning to Proverbs passage quoted above, I want to point out how ridiculous this sort of advice is using the analogy there:

Taking the example of a theft, do we insist on the victim giving more to the thief afterwards? Of course, not! That would be awfully unjust. And it really does not address the wrong committed.

Why then would we insist on the faithful spouse–who has had intimacy stolen from them–give more to the thief?

Yes, the idea of restitution is in play. However, that flows from the cheater to the faithful spouse and not the other way around. Restitution is on the victim’s terms, not the perpetrators.

Infidelity is not a romance deficit problem. It is a sin problem. Sin comes from the heart of the sinner alone. Only the sinner has the power to choose not to sin the future and turn from his or her sin.

Suggesting dating your spouse as a marraige repairing solution gets the theology wrong. It misdiagnoses the issue as a romance problem. And it blames someone–i.e. the faithful spouse–for the sin chosen by the cheating spouse.

So, if you are a pastor or Christian leader, please do not give this awful advice to a congregant/spouse whose marriage has just been ravaged by the sins of infidelity.

And if you are a faithful spouse, be aware that anyone giving such advice is truly clueless as to actual, Biblical dynamics of your situation. They are blind guides best avoided.


8 thoughts on “Mate Date Nonsense”

  1. Thankfully I never got this advice post learning of my husbands infidelity, mostly because it was expected that I would sit quietly while our church leaderships set about fixing my now ex husband.

    But in the lead up to d’day when speaking to the same leaders about my concern for my marriage as I did suspect my husband was being unfaithful, and his commitment to myself physically and emotionally was non existent when not in public. To be told I needed to ensure that we had a regular date night to ensure we remained connected seemed like such a simple idea at the time. But it has a flaw, the unfaithful spouse isn’t interested in dating the person they have already checked out on. For several reasons, having to spend one on one time with their faithful spouse means they have to remember all the lies they have told or spend energy creating new ones. They see this time spent as futile as it detracts from what they would prefer to be doing. They cheater is not going to make any effort to ensure date night happens they leave the prep of finding baby sitters and the like to the faithful spouse so if it doesn’t work out it is not their fault. Oh and it cost money to go out. And when the unfaithful spouse is using funds to wine and dine potential lovers why spent those funds on the person who cares for his children and runs his house for free.
    I still laugh thinking back before my d’day. My XH and I never got to date night as he was always too busy with work, dinners out for committee meetings, having to meet up with mates having a hard time, church commitments, sport commitments. So the closest I got was after cooking dinner and getting our kids ready for bed XH askzed if I wanted to go for coffee as he had a voucher, to his surprise as I changed into my PJ’s at 9pm I declined, to this day he claims he tried! It was my negativity that ended our marriage.

    1. That is rather crazy, Thankful. But I am glad to hear that your church leaders didn’t give this awful advice upon knowing about the infidelity. It may have a place in more normal situations as far as investing in the marriage. Infidelity…not so much.

  2. Our Christian marriage counselor suggested we go on a date to see if we “still had a spark.” My stbxh happily agreed but then had me plan most of it and then complained to the counselor that we didn’t do anything he wanted to do because I’m so selfish. Yeah, I’m the selfish one. This date and the discussion afterwards was just more emotional abuse that added to my PTSD. Thankfully, my church could care less if I went on a date with him or not. My minister just kept telling me that my husband was flawed and I needed to get out.

    Thankful, I’m so sorry your church covered up your stbx behavior. They will reap what they sow at some point. It’s a law as certain as gravity.

  3. So true BHB.
    Ex and I did the date thing also. In the end, I think it cause more harm then good. I felt like I was literally doing a “pick me dance” that I could never win.

    1. I totally agree Moxie, it was definitely part of the pick me dance. Their behavior by this point is downright evil and cruel. Like DM says, there are demonic forces at play here and I know deep in my heart that is so true in my experience. Hugs to you. Hope you are healing.

  4. I myself am a pastors wife for the past 17 years, and my husband was very love by the congregation because he was so loving to everyone. But little did they know that he was bipolar and was abusive and jealous on me. I have been faithful for the whole 28 years of our marriage. But I stayed for the sake of the church not to hurt our beloved congregation. But one day his sinful ways caught up with him. The Lord told me to stay because he had good plans for us but my husband refused to be the led by the Holy Spirit. He eventually got caught in a emotional affair that he had on his phone. Which I found out was a rebound from a emotional affair he had with his ex-wife for three months on the phone he said she was dying with cancer but he never told me anything about it until he got caught with the rebound. The reason for the rebound is because it was too painful for him about his ex-wife dying. I realized that he was in love with her still. This eventually brought him to confess several other emotional Affairs in the past and now I’m finding it very hard to stay with him we have lost the Church due to his affairs. And the worst part is he blames me for all of it I don’t think I can live with this any longer it’s been 9 months since we lost everything and he constantly blames me because I didn’t give him enough attention. And I also found out he was addicted to p*** for a long time. How can I know if God will allow me to leave.

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