SURVIVNG AN AFFAIR
Few marital problems are as devastating as infidelity. An affair doesn’t simply break marital trust, it shatters it. For a believer, this can even translate into a crisis of faith in the broadest sense of the word. After all, if you can’t have confidence in the person who promised to stay faithful “till death do you part,” how can you have confidence in anyone — including God Himself? This is a complicated and multi-layered issue for the Christian. That’s because there’s a very real sense in which fear and anxiety cannot co-exist with faith and trust. In the uncertain aftermath that follows an affair, it’s essential to push past the human betrayal and find a place of rest in the security of God’s faithfulness and sovereign care.
Victims of an affair often feel an overwhelming sense of suspicion toward their spouse. Everything is interpreted through the lens of betrayal — their spouse’s choice of clothing, their phone conversations, even the slightest deviation from their daily routine. In fact, the feelings of doubt can be so compelling, that many spouses will check in on their partner repeatedly throughout the day in an attempt to monitor their every move.
To someone who has been emotionally devastated, such behavior seems rational. It’s an attempt to take charge of circumstances that seem wildly out of his or her control. The trouble is, it doesn’t strengthen a person. It actually weakens him.
Tracking your spouse’s every movement will keep you trapped in a cycle of fear and suspicion, which will only drive you into deeper depression and higher levels of stress. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should give your spouse carte blanche for the future or dismiss the need for healthy accountability. In fact, the guilty party must be willing and agreeable to reasonable measures of accountability. Real healing and reconciliation can’t occur unless he or she is ready to be open and aboveboard about all their comings and goings and social interactions. Trust may be restored if accountability is maintained over a long period of time, but not otherwise. That’s just the way it is.
If you’re in this situation, the thought of releasing control of your spouse may seem terrifying. But in reality, there is only one person you can control: you. That’s not to mention that, ultimately, there is only one Person you can trust: God. Somehow or other, you have to get to the point where you can leave your spouse and your marriage in His hands. Coming to terms with these truths can only strengthen you. And as you gain strength, you will be able to devote more energy to moving forward in life with dignity and healing — and hopefully save your marriage in the process.