Attending marriage counseling with a cheater on the way out of the marriage is a very confusing experience. At least in my experience–I know there are some exceptions to this–marriage counselors and pastors are often not equipped to identify tell-tale cheating and exiting behavior then use that information to help protect the faithful partner.
The really sad thing is how this is true even when the cheater explicitly confesses to the cheating with the pastor/counselor present.
The golden ticket labelled “INTACT MARRIAGE” is all some such guides see.
In pursuit of obtaining that ticket and another such “notch” on their “saved” marriages belt, the guides–be they pastors or other counselors–are willing to put the faithful partner through all sort of humiliating craziness in order to persuade the cheater to do what they already promised God and their spouse to do–namely, honor their marriage vows.
And this happens during a time when faithful spouses are vulnerable willing to do almost anything to put the pieces back together–even though that is impossible. It is never going to be the same.
Too many aren’t delivering the blunt and truly kind advice needed:
–When your husband claims you “never” have sex (but you had sex three times the week leading up to you discovering his cheating), he really is just grasping at straws and trying to pin the destruction of the marriage on you for being allegedly “frigid.” Even if you gave him more sex now, it wouldn’t solve the problem because it is not really a problem he is bringing up to solve but an excuse he is trying to use to avoid taking responsibility for his cheating.
–When your wife claims you “never” talk (even though you had a two to three hour difficult conversation about selling the home and finances), she is really just trying to pin the marriage failure on you for being allegedly emotionally absent. Having deeper and more frequent talks is not what will solve this because the “not talking” part was brought up not to truly solve but to absolve her for cheating on you.
It is an utter waste of time, money, effort, and emotion to focus upon these excuses and essentially give the faithful spouse “performance plans.” To do so is to sell false hope to the desperate faithful spouse who may still be willing to undergo further humiliation, unfortunately (By the way, I’ve been there myself and did my “fair” share of humiliating work, too).
The marriage is without even the hope of a miracle as long as repentance for cheating is off the table from the unfaithful spouse. Cheating spouses might see the pastor and even offer their list of “marriage problems.”
Giving a list of what the faithful spouse does/did wrong does NOT mean the cheater is serious about solving the marriage problems!!!
A cheater is serious about salvaging a marriage if and only if he/she is fully owning and repenting of their infidelity. Someone truly interest in solving their marriage woes starts with the basics and most obvious–i.e. ending the cheating and repairing the damage said cheating did.
Absent the addressing of said basics, one can be sure the cheater is in the pastor’s office not to solve the marriage problems but to lay the blame for the marriage’s demise at the feet of their spouse–i.e. the victim of their adultery.