So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
– John 20:25, NIV
It was August 2012.
And the evidence was clear.
But I did not want to believe it was so.
If I was just a dispassionate outside observer, I would have had no doubt my (now ex) wife was having sex with another man. The evidence could lead to no other reasonable explanation but that.
Yet I resisted accepting that conclusion…
I wanted to believe that it was “just” an emotional affair with the Other Man (OM).
The denials she told me about this inappropriate relationship with the OM in our August confrontation were denials I wanted to believe…even though, I knew in my heart they were lies. I did not want to believe my (now ex) wife had lied to me and was both capable plus engaging in adultery.
Some who come here might be in this stage right now.
They do not want to believe their wife or husband of years cheated on them. Like me, they may have damning evidence, but they are consumed by the confusion that comes in dealing with a liar and their own wishful thinking that the cheating did not actually happen. They might want to believe it was “just” an emotional affair.
Believe the evidence.
Trust your gut.
God gave me a gift in regards to my own quandary:
My (now ex) wife confessed to sexual relations with the OM over the phone Thanksgiving Eve 2012 and later in writing to me along with admission of lying. This confession was what finally forced me to face reality and embrace my grief. I could deny it no longer:
She committed adultery.
One frustrating piece I encountered in getting to this point was several Christians stoking the fires of false hope regarding her infidelity. They encouraged me to not believe the truth of her having committed adultery.
This was very unhelpful (see post here).
I remember one pastor friend even suggesting the damning evidence I had–prior to the confession–might be explainable in another way. Personally, I believe that he would have said something completely different to a woman who came into his office with the same sort of evidence. He did not want to believe the truth.
I share this part of my story for several reasons:
First, I want to encourage pastors/Christian leaders to support the faithful spouse in this time better. They need to hear reality talk. To do this, they need outsiders who are not as emotionally invested as they are in the marriage.
The last thing a faithful spouse needs is another person pretending the Emperor has clothes when he is butt-naked. Help can only begin when we are dealing with truth and reality. If you do not feel qualified to read the evidence, then please tell them so and refer the person to someone who is.
Second, I want to encourage the faithful spouse struggling to believe the truth. As I shared above, I was stuck in this place for months. It is very understandable. We want to believe the person who became one with us on our wedding day. The last thing we want to believe is that our partner betrayed us treacherously and raped our souls.
My advice to you in this stage is to reach out to someone who is qualified to read the evidence and support you. Look for a pastor or Christian counselor who has some experience in dealing with infidelity situations or has survived one himself/herself. I called the helpline at Focus on the Family®. The person I got on the phone did not even hesitate in telling me the truth about what my evidence in August actually meant. That is experience speaking.
Do not beat yourself if you are struggling to believe the evidence indicating that your spouse was or is cheating. I recommend gathering what evidence you need (and are able to) to have peace regarding accepting this awful reality.
And be kind to yourself because a big part of not believing this difficult truth is grief speaking. It will take time to find healing from the acute pain of such deep grief. The losses are huge and traumatic when dealing with a spouse who has violated their marriage vows to remain faithful for life.