Monthly Archives: November 2015

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My Spouse Cheated and Isn’t Showing Any Remorse!

There-is-no-person-so​There is a pattern that we’ve noticed over the years, one that repeats itself with enough regularity that we believe it would be useful to address it. It is a regular problem in marriages that have suffered the agony of an affair, and one that, if not properly dealt with, causes more problems with recovery than almost any other. One way that it manifests itself in the refusal of the betrayed spouse to forgive. It is rooted in the ideas of forgiveness, in refusing to work on the marriage. It’s many offspring include blaming and the art of tit-for-tat. It usually ends with one or both spouses so full of resentment that the marriage fails.

A recent letter expresses this idea with some clarity, and so it will be used as an example. But this idea is quite common, any number of emails could be selected to show the problem. This particular letter is no more special, or troubling, than any other – it is simply a useful teaching example.

It is entirely possible that this letter is mostly a frustrated “rant”.

We live in a society where feelings are considered more important than facts or even the truth. When ranting, people say whatever their emotional state at the time leads them to say. This, the ranter believes, is ‘the truth’ – because this is what is felt at that particular moment. In a rant, people tend to say things they don’t really mean (we normally this call ‘lying’ – but we tend to gloss over it in the pursuit of what we believe will be cathartic.) When ranting, a person will say deliberately hurtful, mean-spirited, and often false things about their spouse. This should never occur, for such actions are the opposite of love. That is to say, this sort of behavior is hatred. We are to love our spouses. In fact, the Bible tells us to love even our enemies (Matt. 5: 43-48 and Luke 6:27-36).  In a rant things are often stated in a highly emotional way that would never be stated had the ‘ranter’ been thinking about their words rather than instinctively barking out what they ‘feel’.

This means that much of what is written MAY BE far from reality and most likely spoken in haste without forethought. Let us be clear, however, a rant is not a truly acceptable way to address any problem. It is childish, inefficient, and detrimental – especially if it garners any support from other people. At best, a rant should be ignored and the focus returned to the real problems and solutions.

Keep in mind that if something is true, it is so -regardless of how you feel. If you believe something you state in a rant is true – then it is also true regardless of the rant. Keep that in mind when you begin to berate your spouse in a rant. This is either telling everyone how you really view your spouse – or else how often you lie!

By saying what is written “MAY” be far from reality, what we mean is that this rant reveals an underlying problem with the marriage that quite likely brought about the eventuality of an affair in the first place. If this is more than a collection of falsehoods and exaggerations (a rant) then it is an overview of the entire marriage. Affairs rarely occur in a vacuum. It is clear that this marriage is in far more trouble than recovering from an affair. It is a marriage without love.

By love, we do not speak of some obscure emotion. At Affaircare, we do not use the word ‘love’ to mean an emotion at all. It is an ACTION. This marriage lacks this action – and may have for long before the affair.

One further caveat: an affair is usually a stupid, and thoughtless attempt to escape symptoms of a troubled marriage, or to avoid the problems of a troubled marriage altogether. At all times, it is a bad idea, it is the WRONG solution, and it causes more problems than it is trying to solve. When a spouse enters into an affair, what they are doing is wrong, stupid, and harmful. There is no moral excuse for an affair.

Now, let’s examine the letter:

“…I wish I could get the kind of remorse and frequent apologies and asking for forgiveness this article talks about, but none of the sort, we are in counseling and {my spouse] is working on the marriage, by letting me know where s/he is, what s/he is doing but the last time we spoke in therapy about asking for forgiveness it blew my mind:

My spouse did not know they were supposed to ask for forgiveness….”

Note first, the author of the letter states that their spouse “is working on the marriage”. Let’s keep that in mind! The Disloyal in this instance IS doing what is necessary. Maybe not on the timeline imposed by the author, but by their own admission, the Disloyal is doing the work. (Interestingly, the Loyal Spouse claims later that they are actively refusing to do their own part.)

The Loyal Spouse is ‘shocked’ to find that the Disloyal did not know they had to ask for forgiveness. The Loyal  gives no reason why this is shocking, and on top of that, gives no reasons why they think this may have occurred. The Disloyal doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. Instead, the Loyal has boxed their Disloyal Spouse into an inescapable prison – they are actively arranging the outcome. We are not the spouse – but we can offer a couple of possible reasons! Maybe the Disloyal Spouse assumed that the need for forgiveness for a wrong they committed was so obvious it didn’t need to be asked (especially if they are working to fix the situation.) Perhaps the Disloyal made the mistake of thinking it was implied in the process of beginning to work on the marriage. Perhaps the Disloyal was afraid the Loyal Spouse wouldn’t forgive anyway, so why try? We could come up with many more examples.

Affaircare is a Christian coaching service, we base our replies on what we find in Scripture. So we will point out a couple of passages where people prayed for their enemies to be forgiven, even though their enemies not only did not ask for it – but were actively behaving in a way that brought about the need for forgiveness: Luke 23:34, and Acts 7:60.

The fact that the Loyal Spouse’s mind was ‘blown’ because the Disloyal didn’t know that they were required to actually vocalize the words is more of a revelation that the Loyal Spouse is unforgiving than that the Disloyal needs to make the request. The Loyal Spouse is refusing to forgive unless the Disloyal jumps through THEIR hoops – steps that the Loyal has obviously not vocalized! The Loyal will not forgive the Disloyal unless they somehow manage to perform the actions the Loyal imagines they have to undertake. However – what is good for the goose is good for the gander! If the Loyal expects their spouse to say things out loud, then they ALSO need to say things. Out loud. The Disloyal Spouse’s mind may be blown that their Loyal Spouse needs such actions.

They also may learn things about one another!

The Loyal Spouse continues:

“…No remorse, no emotional breakdown, no guilt– nothing, [my Disloyal Spouse] says they feel numb, They weren’t numb when they were with married asshole who pretended to be my friend and hugged our children in front of their own spouse…”

It’s interesting that the Loyal brings up the need for their Disloyal Spouse to ‘break down’. This assumes a personality trait that not all people share. The Thinkers among us rarely have emotional breakdowns. No clue is given here as to what the Disloyal Spouse’s personality type may be – are they more emotionally oriented? or more of a Thinker? Understanding that aspect may well give a clue as to why this Disloyal Spouse is not acting the way the Loyal demands.

Yet – as the Loyal Spouse writes: the Disloyal IS ‘working on the marriage’! And, as is pointed out, THE LOYAL SPOUSE IS NOT.

The Loyal claims that there is “no guilt–nothing”. We must assume the Loyal Spouse
means that their Disloyal is not ‘acting’ like he or she ‘feels’ guilty. This is an error many people make! Guilt has nothing to do with feelings. A person IS guilty if they have committed some wrong. How each person acts when this is realized varies from person to person. The Loyal claims the Disloyal is ‘working on the marriage’ – which means that the Disloyal has already accepted the guilt – and is doing something about it. Perhaps the Loyal would rather if their spouse made no steps toward working on the marriage and instead sat on the couch weeping while the Loyal relieved their frustrations saying mean things – or worse!

The Loyal Spouse claims the Disloyal shows no remorse. This may well be – but that does not mean they don’t feel remorse – nor regret. In fact, by definition, a person who is remorseful takes steps to rectify the situation. They ‘repent’ – that is, they take steps to change their lives for the better. As the author wrote in the first paragraph: the Disloyal Spouse is working on the marriage.

We think it is safe to say that what the author means by ‘no remorse’ is actually ‘no regret.’ The definition of ‘regret’ is “a feeling of sadness or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.” Their spouse does not appear to feel sad – and from this the author assumes that that Disloyal is not sorry – nor wanting to change. But above all, it simply points out that the author is assigning a fantasy set of standards to which they hold the spouse – which, because they are imaginary – are most likely not possible to attain.

Which is why the Loyal Spouse writes the next line; this is the crux of the entire letter, and the story of their marriage. It is the most revealing, detrimentally destructive highlight of the letter:

“…My anger and resentment grow each day, I say nothing,… [my Disloyal spouse] thinks that everything is going to be OK and that time is going to take care of this, it will not…”

Note the Loyal Spouse’s claim of omniscience (knowing the future) and declaration of reality: things WILL NOT WORK OUT. Since the Loyal cannot know the future, the only possible way they can say ‘it will not’ is if they have already determined that the marriage is over. Since the Loyal has already determined this, they have cancelled out any work their spouse may do for the marriage. It reveals a person who has no intention of remaining married and is instead dragging their spouse through a pointless succession of tasks. At the end of each task, they can declare it failed, and the Disloyal will need to do something else. Of course this cannot go on indefinitely: at some point the Disloyal Spouse will give up. But in the meantime, the Loyal Spouse will have had the pleasure of seeing them squirm and beg. For nothing. And in the end – the Loyal may well force the Disloyal to leave the marriage – which will then mean that they can claim the divorce ‘wasn’t their fault!’ God sees all things, though!

Since the Loyal Spouse has publicly declared that this WILL NOT WORK OUT, they need to be true to their word, or else be revealed as a liar, and untrustworthy themselves. In other words, if this is over, end it–do not lead the Disloyal Spouse on and give false hope.  Or, as the Bible declares: “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” (Matt 5:37 and James 5:12)  Moreover, since the Loyal Spouse’s declaration is public, they have made a statement in front of witnesses: “… Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth…” Deut. 23:23 (the founding verse of Affaircare)!

Keep in mind that the Bible specifically tells us not to ‘let the sun go down on our anger’ (Eph. 4:26). It means that we must work toward solving the problem immediately – and that involves direct, verbal communication, using the skill of active listening, with the intention of ending the dispute in a loving, God-honoring fashion. No matter how big the problem, the Bible offers solutions, and God promises healing. The Loyal Spouse can not cling to their anger and must actively work to resolve the anger.

“…How can you trust someone who has no remorse, no empathy, no compassion for the hurt they have caused? You can’t, and living with someone you can’t trust sucks in the worse possible way…”

Indeed it does, and living with someone who refuses to work on the marriage (and refuses to forgive, with no remorse for such an action) – also “sucks in the worse possible way.” See Luke 6:42. We have covered the idea of trust elsewhere on our site (for example, HERE), and anyone interested can easily search and find what we have to say on that issue. But note:  searching would be part of the work one must do on the marriage. For someone who has declared that they will not work on the marriage, there isn’t any point to reading up on it.

“…I am doing things for myself now, back to my activities friends and [hobbies], my Disloyal can join or not their choice, I have stopped “working” on this, it was their fuck up, it’s their job to fix it, I am done trying to make things into something they are not…”

Here is a very revealing sentence: “…I am done trying to make things into something they are not…”

Any marriage that goes through the agony of an affair never returns (with any success) to the way things were. Instead, it MUST become something that ‘it was not.’ It is unfortunate that the author of this letter will have nothing to do with this. By declaring that they have stopped ‘working’ on the marriage the Loyal has declared the marriage over.

The affair was a very stupid and destructive choice – but that is not the primary problem. Almost no affair happens in a vacuum. There is almost ALWAYS a prior set of problems that existed before the affair. The affair was a stupid, thoughtless attempt to either fix or escape those problems. And the attitude of the author of this letter reveals a lot more about the marriage than they  would like to admit. The author’s treatment of their spouse creates an environment where an affair is more likely. With this kind of treatment, it is easy to see why this Disloyal Spouse may have blundered into the arms of an unscrupulous pursuer.

Since the Loyal has stopped working on the marriage (the use of quotes around the word working is revealing in itself) – and since the Loyal has declared that it CANNOT work out – our advice is to cut it off NOW and stop trying to punish the Disloyal for their sin. “…Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord…” (Romans 12: 18-20). This Loyal does not love their spouse. “…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Eph. 5:25) and as such, is just as guilty as their Disloyal Spouse is of destroying their marriage. Admit it, repent, go and sin no more.

“…[My Disloyal] needs to make me fall in love with them again or it is time to pack my bags and enjoy life, it is way too short to be miserable, my kids deserve a better example than that….”

The author’s spouse did not “MAKE” them fall ‘in love’ in the first place. They CHOSE to love their spouse; they CHOSE to feel affection, pride, admiration, and a host of other emotions regarding them. Making any other person responsible for their own emotions and actions is just as destructive as any affair. The Disloyal Spouse will fail at some point, and the Loyal will be right back on the throne demanding reparation and dictating punishment.

“… it is time to pack my bags and enjoy life, it is way too short to be miserable, my kids deserve a better example than that….”

It is time to pack your bags because you declared that this WILL NOT WORK OUT. DO IT NOW. Do not abuse your spouse and children any longer. You have that moral option whenever there is an affair – with one caveat: once you commit to working on the marriage, you no longer have that option. You have recommitted and are bound by that promise as surely as you are to your initial marriage commitment.

As for ‘life being too short’ – placing your need to feel comfortable and happy over the word you give to another reveals that your promise was a lie in the first place: your commitment is NOT to the marriage – it is to YOUR HAPPINESS. Such a person cannot be trusted to be there ‘for better or for worse’. And, as the author stated: “…living with someone you can’t trust sucks in the worse possible way…”

As for “my kids deserve a better example” – we have to question the sanity of this statement. The author’s Disloyal Spouse is – by their own admission – ‘working on the marriage.’ What BETTER example can be given than working to repair a problem? Is running away, hating, refusing to forgive, and chasing after happiness in ANY WAY a BETTER example?

In close: a marriage is a partnership encased in commitment, fortified by repentance and growth as a Christian. It requires diligent work from both partners, working together to go the same direction. Picture trying to push a stalled automobile: if one of you takes the front end and pushed, while the other takes the rear end and pushes, nothing happens. Get together and work from the same side!