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Ask Affaircare: I Don’t Know How to Move Forward! Help!

AskAffaircare

The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God.  Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!

It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!


Our question today comes from a Loyal Spouse just 9 weeks past D-Day.  He writes:

I am 9 weeks out from finding out about my wife’s 9 month affair. After individual and couples counseling, including a week-long, 20-hour session with our church, I find myself still struggling greatly. I do not know how to move forward. I need help!

Dear Don’t Know How to Move Forward,

Your email is very short and there are many facts we don’t know that would be extremely helpful, such as “Was it a physical affair or an emotional affair?” and “Is your wife showing true remorse and making the necessary changes…or is she rugsweeping and trying to get you to rugsweep too?”  If we knew the answers to some of those questions, it would really help a lot!  But since we don’t know, we’re going to reply just assuming that it was “generic” infidelity (as if there is such a thing) and, since you didn’t bring it up as an issue, assuming that she is doing the work to face herself and take full personal responsibility for her choice to commit adultery.

If either of those assumptions is NOT TRUE, then be aware that it might change the trajectory of our response.  But for now, let’s “move forward” since that it our topic.

When we received your email, three things jumped out at us:

  1. It has only 9 weeks since you discovered proof of the adultery.
  2. You and your wife are drowning in therapy: individual counseling, couples counseling, and CHURCH counseling!  And…
  3. To move forward you need to let go.

So let’s go over each one of these three topics, shall we?

First, it’s only been 9 weeks since you discovered proof of your wife’s affair.  Now, normally people suspect for a while before D-Day proves it to them, so although you may have had a gut feeling earlier, it has only been 9 weeks ago that the proof was irrefutable and/or your wife confessed.  Traditionally, those in the infidelity industry agree that  it can take YEARS sometimes for the Loyal Spouse to recover from the betrayal of adultery.  Here at Affaircare, our guideline is not blogs or pop psychology though–it’s the Bible.  We don’t know of any place in the Bible that we are told that we have to recover from a painful, life-changing event “quickly.”  God does tell us to forgive (more on that later), but He doesn’t say we have to “not feel the pain” or “be okay with it” or even to “get over the grief fast. ”

In fact, the Bible has a LOT to say about grief, and make no mistake, after discovering adultery, a Loyal Spouse goes through a GRIEF process.  That’s because there has been a death: the marriage died the moment the Disloyal Spouse was unfaithful!  Before the affair, you two were exclusive and you probably thought “Oh affairs happen to OTHER people–that will never happen to us.  We have something special.”  Now that innocent trust is dead.  The image you had of “your marriage” is dead.  And you (the Loyal Spouse) need to mourn just as surely as someone who lost their spouse–only your spouse isn’t dead!  They are right there in front of you.

Here are several verses ABOUT mourning and grief–let’s see what we can learn from them:

Psalm 31:9-10  “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.”  Wow, doesn’t the psalmist do a good job describing grief?  His eyes are SPENT from crying!  His soul is tortured and even his body is ill from the sorrow.  This verse clearly indicates that sorrow takes a while, and it wears on the psalmist!

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Well this one is a promise on which we can depend!  When someone is brokenhearted…when someone’s spirit is crushed… the Lord is NEAR!  We may not “feel” Him because the truth of His nearness isn’t based on our emotions.  He promised it and so HE IS!

Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Here we learn that our hearts do fail us, and I don’t think the psalmist means cardiac disease here, do you?  I think he’s talking about feeling so deeply sorrowful that your heart HURTS.  Again, note that nowhere does it say that your flesh shouldn’t fail or that our hearts shouldn’t hurt.  In fact, we could surmise that they will! But when they do… God is our strength.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Again, note that it doesn’t say we shouldn’t have a broken heart or that being wounded is a sin.  It says that when that does happen, GOD HEALS.  And since He promised, we can depend on that even if it doesn’t “feel like it.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  We threw this one in, even though it doesn’t specifically speak about grief, because it implies that something has occurred that would create LACK of peace.  There is agitation, distress and conflict!  And this verse talks to use about how we can regain peace: by having our mind, our thoughts, our reflection, our concentration FIXED on HIM.

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” See how it doesn’t say “Thou shalt not mourn”?  Nope, it says that mourning is going to occur, and we have a promise.  We aren’t alone in our mourning and grief–He is there to comfort us.

Here are three more verses about mourning and grieving and affliction, and you go ahead and write in the comments what you learn from these three verses:

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

1 Peter 5:7  “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Don’t Know–this is going to take some time.  It will never be “the way it was” and you are going to have to go through a period that is very similar to the grief process for “your marriage of the past.”  Just based on our experience, we’d estimate the quickest possible timeframe would be  a time equal to her affair (9 months) and if you deal with grief slower,  it may be up to two years (roughly).  Now that doesn’t mean that for the next two years there won’t be good times or you’ll hold your wife’s affair against her, but rather it will be like someone who is mourning.  They are GRIEVING but life goes on.  They just “go through the motions” at first.  Then they learn to do a little better but feel guilty for doing a little better.  Then they deal with it and time heals a little more and even more good days sneak in.  And then one day maybe a year later they realize they are okay–they survived.  It will be very much like that.  You won’t “get better” all at once.

Second, you and your wife are drowning in therapy.  What we mean by that, is that clearly you are going to a counselor to address how you are feeling and what you’re thinking and how to deal with all this and to address your own issues.  And clearly your wife is going to a counselor to address why she cheated and to face her demons so she can identify her issues and change.  And clearly you are going to couples counseling to address THE MARRIAGE’S issues and how to do better as a team/couple and how to gain the tools to be better at this whole “marriage” thing.  We totally get that!  And you are off to your church’s 20-hour intensive to try to make a grand gesture at facing and addressing your marriage problems from a Biblical point of view.  Kuddos for that!

But, Don’t Know–you are doing so much therapy that it’s all you think about!  Every second of every day is filled with either the day-to-day things like work and school and chores…or THERAPY.   A person can only do so much deep, intense, emotion-charged, vehement analysis before they start to burn out, and our guess is that a portion of your feeling like you don’t know how to move forward is because you are so overwhelmed by all this analysis that there is no real time off.  YOU are a human and so is your wife.  She can only feel as low as the dirt on the bottom of a bug’s shoe for so long and she’ll get tired just because it’s too much to handle.  Same for you–it’s just too much!  So we would make a suggestion: balance the deep, intense emotional relationship talks with an equal amount of lighter, gentler, more agreeable time together.  For example, if you have one hour of therapy every day in one way or another and then spend another hour talking about whatever went on in therapy–balance that with an equal amount of time doing pleasant, enjoyable things together.

Here’s why, Don’t Know.  When you agreed to reconcile, what you were really saying is that you agreed to build a WHOLE NEW MARRIAGE.  During her affair, your wife equated you (and thoughts of you) with unpleasant feelings and thoughts.  “Well, he was abusive so I deserved someone who treated me better”…that kind of thing.  Anyway, now that her affair is over, your wife equates you with long, painful conversations that feel like the Spanish Inquisition, and tears, and hours and hours of therapy.  Likewise you equate her with destroying your trust, destroying your world, and destroying the very foundation of everything you believed in.  And part of the challenge now is not only facing the issues that brought you to this place, but also rebuilding something loving!  Well, when people love each other, they association POSITIVE thoughts and feelings with the one they love!  They LIKE being together and ENJOY each others’ company and think their spouse makes them feel GOOD.  So right now, you need to add some of that to your new marriage.

Now, you know how many/most couple’s counselors will tell you to “date each other”. UGH, that’s silly!  You’re MARRIED why should you have to try to re-win someone who made promises to you?  So that’s not what we’re saying here.  What we ARE saying is that one piece of this puzzle that is missing is the “remembering the things I love about my spouse” piece.  It is imperative that you two sometimes put all the counseling down, and put all the affair-talk and crying down… and just agree to be each other’s friends and do something fun.  It can be something easy like just renting a video and sitting on the couch holding hands–it can be something complicated like a weekend away riding the nearest rollercoasters.  But balance–for every hour of therapy, have an hour of enjoying each other.

Third (and finally), you say that you don’t know how to move forward and you need help. We partially addressed that when we said that it’s going to take some time–like 9 months to 2 years–in order to go through the grieving process and rebuild a new marriage.  So part of “moving forward” really is just time and giving yourself time to recover.  It won’t be instantaneous and it won’t be “the way it was.”  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be REALLY GOOD!!!  You could even build an even better marriage than you had because now you’ve grown and matured and so has she!

But you know how the final step of the grieving process is “acceptance”?  In the infidelity process, the key step to moving forward is forgiveness.  At some point, if you truly commit to reconciling with your spouse, you are going to have to volunteer to lay down your claim for recompense for the hurt and damage she caused you.  Please note that forgiveness is not condoning (failing to see it was wrong), excusing (not holding her personally responsible for her choices), pardoning (removing the consequence of her debt–it’s God’s job to judge or not) or forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from your consciousness).  Forgiveness means that you KNOW you have the ace up your sleeve that you could always win an argument, you have the sword over her head that you could hold against her, and you have the weapon with which you could punish her forever…and you make a decision to lay that weapon down and let go of your legitimate claim.

Right now it may sound utterly FOOLISH to even think about forgiving.  After all, most of the blogs and psychological “wisdom” will tell you things like “you deserve better” and “once a cheater always a cheater”.  But we are not suggesting that you be a fool.  God has a lot to say about forgiveness, so let’s just look:

God tells us s that we should be willing to forgive because we are sinners too and God forgave us (Matthew 6:14-15 and Colossians 3:13).  He says when someone sins against us and is truly remorseful we should be willing to forgive over and over (Matthew 18: 21-22 and Luke 17:3-4 ).  He says we should forgive people so they don’t feel overwhelmed (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).  He tells us that forgiving is a priority–we should make things right even ahead of worshipping Him (Matthew 5:23-24).  But nowhere is there any mention of forgiveness not hurting or of forgiveness being easy and making all the struggling go away.  We are just told to DO it.

The good news is that  He even tells us HOW to forgive in Luke 17:3-4: “So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.  Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 

Step 1–Watch YOURSELF.  Haven’t you ever been in a position of doing something REALLY WRONG and wishing that people would be kind and forgive you?  Then just like the hypocrite in Matthew 7 and Luke 6, we need to watch ourselves and treat others the way we would have liked to be treated when we sinned!

Step 2–A brother or sister (someone close to us–a fellow believer, disciple, spouse, neighbor, or family member) does something against us.  Maybe they gossip or spread a lie or offend us or actively hurt us. Whatever it is, they do wrong by us.

Step 3–Holy smoke look at that.  We are supposed to rebuke them!  Of course, the Greek word there is epitimaó, which means to admonish, or warn by instructing.  Oddly enough that word is a verb (an action) and it has a whole bunch behind it.  It means “have so much value due, that you respond in a way suitable to the situation.”  In other words, we VALUE the brother or sister.  We place due honor upon them because they mean so much to us, and thus, out of love, we go up to them directly and tell them they did wrong and encourage them to DO THE RIGHT THING.

Step 4–“if they repent….”  Note that it doesn’t say “if they are remorseless and continue to sin, you go ahead and forgive them anyway.”  it says that the next step has to be remorse or changing of the inner man.  We like to define repentance as a complete 180 degree change from what they’ve been doing!  A full U-Turn!  In other words, they have to be acting and thinking 100% different from the way they WERE acting and thinking.  They have to “come to themselves” and return to doing the right thing.  And if they do repent and do change… then on to the next step.

Step 5–“…forgive them.” Even if they do wrong by you 7 times in one day and come back to you with a changed inner man 7 times, you must forgive them.   The word for “forgive” here is aphiémi, which means “send away” or “release”–“wipe the slate clean”.  See how that fits with our definition above about putting down your legitimate claim to restitution? You make a decision in your mind to let go of that claim and you commit to never, ever picking it up again!  That’s forgiveness.  And note the word MUST!!  This isn’t a suggestion or something we do if we feel like it–we MUST.  That’s imperative, which means it is required.

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Ask Affaircare: Who Should I Talk To About This?

AskAffaircare

The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God.  Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!

It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!


Our question today comes from a Loyal Husband who needs to talk to someone about his wife’s affair.  He writes:

Should i confide in a close female family friend about my wife’s affair? I really need to talk to someone…..

Dear Loyal Husband who would like to talk to a close female family friend, 

I can give you a very, VERY short answer to this question:  NO!!!

NO, you should not confide in a close female family friend about your wife’s affair, because developing close friendships with members of the opposite sex is what got you and your wife into this trouble in the first place!  She developed a “friendship” with a close classmate or a close co-worker or a close man from the gym, and now, because she confided in someone who listened to her and offered sympathy and support, she thinks she “loves you but she’s not IN LOVE with you.”

When one of you does the wrong thing (aka “is unfaithful”), that does not give you the justification to go out and do another wrong thing of your own.   In a summary, her sin does not justify your sin.

I don’t want to be harsh, here, and I do want to offer you some true hope, so the very first thing I’d recommend is getting a good grip on what fidelity means.  My definition of fidelity, or “faithfulness,” is that you voluntarily, of your own free will, promised to give 100% of your affection and loyalty to your spouse and only your spouse as long as you were alive.  Note that means that you don’t get married “because they meet all your needs perfectly/naturally” — but rather that you made a commitment to study and learn about your spouse to show love TO THEM.  Also note that 100% means that NO PERCENTAGE goes to any other person!  If you have a close female family friend, that means some percentage of what you owe to your wife and volunteered to give her is being given away to some other woman…and that’s destructive to your marriage.  So number one–keep your own side of the street clean by not turning to the close female family friend. Make sure that you are giving the same 100% to your wife that you expect from her.   And yes, I get it–the close female family friend could be an aunt or 2nd cousin twice removed, but that’s not the point.  100% is due to your wife, and no one else.

Second, I would recommend that talking to someone about it is a great idea!  I can’t imagine trying to get through the heartbreak of adultery all by yourself–but right now if you turn to a female, if she is anything even close to understanding, providing encouragement and emotional help, then you will begin to bond to HER and that is 100% reserved for your wife!  So avoid that temptation right now by turning to the men in your life who are likely to understand and support you.  I don’t know you or your situation specifically, but maybe you could turn to your father or a brother, or if your family of origin is dysfunctional, try some local, pro-marriage male friends or some guys from church. You’d be surprised (and probably saddened) to realize how many men at church have been through the same things themselves!  And if family, friends or church doesn’t work for you–there are support groups like the Beyond Affairs Network – Support Groups for Betrayed Spouses.   Not to toot our own horn, but you may want to take to David too–you know the other co-founder of Affaircare!  You can email him directly at affaircare@gmail.com if you’d like. The point here is to DEFINITELY talk to someone, but make that person a male person for now at least until you get your head on straight.

Finally, let me end my answer with a few bible verses, because our whole goal here is to act and live like God wants us to act and live.  So how would we know what He wants if we don’t look at what He wrote, right?  Here’s how we are to treat one another:

Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”

Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Clearly we are not meant to go through our trials and tribulations and difficulties alone. Clearly as Christians we have a mandate to support each other and encourage each other and pray for each other and help each other.  But we don’t “encourage the fainthearted” by encouraging or allowing sin.  In fact, these verses indicate the opposite–we are to sharpen one another and admonish the idle and stir one another up to love and good works.  So…

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I encourage you to be TRUE to your promise.  I encourage you to do the HONORABLE thing. I encourage you to remember that you have been forgiven too, and to be JUST.  I encourage you to be PURE for your wife.  I encourage you to be a LOVELY man inside and out.  I encourage you to do the really hard, COMMENDABLE thing.  Speak to the men in your life and give your marriage the best possible chance for reconciliation.

Faithfully,

 

~Cindy

 

Ask Affaircare: I Don’t Know What to Do Anymore

AskAffaircare

The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God.  Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!

It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!


Our question today comes from a Disloyal Spouse who just can not break it off with the Other Person.  He writes:

Hi, I just found your site tonight and I’m really struggling.  I’m the disloyal spouse and I’m still in phone contact with the OP which is my ex fiancée.   My spouse knows about my affair, which lasted years.  I’m still very much in love with my ex, although I’ve tried to not be.  I can’t let the ex go, I’ve tried and tried over 18 yrs.  I keep flip flipping back between the both of them.   I have left my spouse a couple of times for my ex.  I am now back in the marital home since March 2014 after moving out and into my ex ‘ s place for 2 months.  My heart is with my ex, and I have a hard time being intimate with my spouse, to the point of hardly ever.  I’m very depressed over what this situation has become.  Don’t know what to do anymore.  

Unhappy in life

Dear Unhappy in life,

Actually, yes, you do know what to do. The problem is that you don’t want to! You write that you are depressed over what this situation has become, and that is quite understandable – and something you can easily overcome. But I have to make a couple of things clear. At Affaircare, we approach reality from a Christian viewpoint, which means that we understand very clearly what is right and what is wrong in this type of situation. We know the solution, and, we know that the solution is both possible and also fulfilling. This means that what we expect you to do is specific and clearly laid out by God in Scripture. Moreover, your depression is self-inflicted and as such, your choices will determine whether you continue in depression or move out of it.

The first thing I’d like to point out is that you are not acting like a man (you aren’t acting like a woman either, so do not misinterpret what I’m saying.) There is an old saying: “A man is as good as his word.” In biblical terms, this is found in Deut. 23:23 “…You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth…”  You are only as dependable, credible, trustworthy, and respectable as your ability and desire to keep your promises, and this is something that God promises He will help His children fulfill.

In this instance, you have made a promise to your wife, and you have backed out on your promise. You have not kept your word. You are a liar. You are sinning. Of course, the idea of sin will only bother a Christian, but the rest of this appeals to nearly all walks of life. No wonder you are depressed – you know deep inside that you are a liar, untrustworthy, lack credibility, and respectability. If you didn’t feel depressed, there would be something really wrong with you!

Interestingly, feeling depressed because you realize all of these things is a good sign: your conscience is working and you know the correct path to take. You can overcome this. The fact that it bothers you is actually a good thing!

But there is more. You write that your “…heart is with my ex…”, that you are “…still very much in love with my ex…” although “…I’ve tried to not be…”  Again, it’s understandable why you would feel depressed, and let me say that there is a solution to this. Keep in mind that what you are talking about is NOT love! It is familiarity, lust, admiration, affection, and any number of other emotional states. You have chosen – even if not with explicit intention – to feel these things about a person from your past, rather than giving them to your wife. In this, you are cheating. You are not giving 100% of your loyalty and affection to the person you promised to give these things.

Love is none of the above. It is an action. It is how you treat others. You promised to love your wife – that is, to treat her in a way that is best for her – and yet the only person you are really loving right now is yourself: you are chasing after what you have determined is best for you. And you’ve shown how bad you are at even that simple activity –  you feel depressed because it isn’t working!

On top of this, there is a strong possibility that you enjoy the lure of forbidden activities. That is, you get a thrill out of cheating, out of the actual sin. Adam and Eve were tempted in the same way – and gave in the same as you. Its a very human characteristic. The one thing they were forbidden – that was the one thing they wanted most – because it was forbidden. That is fallen human nature at its strongest.

So you have chosen to give into temptation for the sake of fulfilling what makes you feel good. And this calls up the first point we brought up: a man is only as good as his word. No one says it is easy to do the right thing. Sometimes it is hard. But a real man will do what it takes, because it is the right thing to do, even if it is painful or difficult. What you have chosen, instead, is to worship your pleasure. You do what it takes to feel good – and, ironically, you find that it fails at every turn. What a surprise! You feel depressed!

Yes, you know what to do. You have three choices:

1) Stay the course, keep doing what you are doing, and quit complaining about feeling depressed. That’s the consequence of the choice you made, and no one is interested in your self pity.

2) Divorce your wife, and run to your lover. It’s almost a forgone conclusion that this will end up in failure, but this would at least free your wife from the anguish of being chained to a dishonest, cheating, self-centered fool who refuses to act with love toward her.

3) Drop your ex, turn to your spouse for forgiveness, do the right thing, and take the consequences, however painful they may be in the near future, knowing that as a real man, you are taking steps to build credibility, trustworthiness, and respecatbility. And, if you are a Christian, know that God has promised (and cannot fail) to pull you through and bless your choice. Your depression will end, and you will find life much more satisfying – once you have done the hard work

Faithfully,
David at Affaircare

Ask Affaircare: Should I expose after the divorce is final?

AskAffaircare

 

The Ask Affaircare Series started because our readers have questions. About Affairs. Reconciling. Marriage. Divorce. Christianity. The Bible. And God.  Initially, we tried to answer each question through e-mail, but we quickly realized that there were many people asking many similar questions, so we started this weekly series!

It’s not our goal to make you agree with us, but rather to explore what the Bible says in thoughtful, and clear manner. Additionally, we try to write our answers in a loving but truthful manner (Ephesians 4:15) because we know there is a real person – with real struggles and dreams – behind every single question. Thank for you visiting Affaircare. Keep those questions coming!


 

Our email question today comes from a divorced wife, who writes:

It has been a year since I caught my husband and his mistress (also his employee). When I went to his family, they said I was being paranoid. Now it has been 7 months since our divorce has been finalized. His mistress and her husband are divorcing as well. I want to forward the personal email correspondences between my x husband and his employee to his mother. Should I? That is the only thing that is bothering me…that none of his family helped me, they made me feel crazy and paranoid. I also want to resend it to my husband and his employee and to his workplace.

 

Dear divorced wife,

You are DEFINITELY in our prayers!  We bet this has been a very painful, trying time for you working through the discovery of the affair, dealing with in-laws that did not support you, and then finalizing a divorce.  It sounds so hard!

But let’s start by saying that the step of “Exposure” in our “Steps to End an Affair” is often a step that is misunderstood.  Very often people think that exposing the affair is just going to drive their spouse further away or that it is done in a spirit of vengeance to hurt their spouse back.  But the Bible is VERY clear about being vengeful–in both the Old and New Testament God is consistent when He tells us what He wants:

Deuteronomy 32:35 says “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”  So in the Old Testament days, God was telling Israel that if a nation did not hear His voice and follow Him, when that evil nation sent thousands against His people, that He would be their ROCK and feed them, defend them, and avenge them.  The message was that vengeance is God’s job, not ours.

Romans 12:19 “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.”  In the New Testament the Apostle Paul quotes the verse we above!  He is teaching the new Christians what Love in Action looks like, and he says  something beautiful in the verses surrounding this one:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 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. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
 if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

WOW!  What a lesson in how to treat our spouses and their families when they are being hurtful to us!

Now, after reading all this you may be thinking, ‘Well wait! Then how does your Exposure step fit into all this?  Seems like it would be contrary to what we just read.”

If you review the steps we suggest, the first step is that if you suspect, before you go off half-cocked making accusations, that you keep an open mind and investigate to find the truth.  When a person is sinning (and adultery is sin), they usually try to cover it up with lies, deflection and hiding it, so in order to find out if the gut feeling is true, you keep your mind open to either finding proof they are faithful or they are not, and you search out facts.

The second, third and fourth steps exactly mirror the steps on dealing with sin in the Church in Matthew 18:15-17:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” [This is Step 2 Confront–alone, one-one-one, giving them the opportunity to deal with it honestly and discreetly.]

“But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” [This is Step 3 Disclose–tell one or two mentors, wise people that your spouse looks up to and may listen to, and give them the opportunity to deal with it as quietly as possible.]

“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” [THIS is Step 4 Expose–and the goal of “telling it to the church” is to give them the incentive to stop an active sin and be reconciled with God and with their church family!]

It is important to note that Exposure has a very specific goal: to END AN ACTIVE AFFAIR. Yes, the Disloyal Spouse is likely to be angry, because you are not keeping their secret, and having the affair out in the open takes away some of the “fun” of their clandestine rendezvous!  But a marriage can survive anger–it can not survive active adultery!  So the goal is very clear and very focused: end an active affair. It is somewhat drastic, but often shining the light of truth on a sin that someone is trying to hide is enough motivation for them to stop!!

So to solidly answer YOUR specific question, no we do not think it would be wise or helpful at this time to send the emails to your ex-spouse’s family OR to his workplace.  That was maybe an option while you were still married in an attempt to break up the infidelity and then give you two time to save your marriage, but now, the divorce is final.  It’s been final for almost a year.  And yes, often people disappoint us and hurt us when they are not willing to stand up for the truth and do the right thing.

It sounds like his family just swept his adultery under the rug and/or accepted it, and we understand that is EXTREMELY painful to you.  But now you are no longer bound to or obligated to or part of that family.  You are free to associate with people who do love you and support you, whether they be your blood family or your Christian family.  Personally, we suggest that rather than sending out those emails, that instead you return your focus to living in a way that pleases God, and focus on people in your life who ARE loving and who have acted in a way that supports your spiritual growth.  If someone is encouraging you to seek vengeance, that is not a person who is encouraging you to mature in Christ!  So instead, let go of your ex and his mistress and his family.  Your responsibility to them has ended.  NOW your responsibility is to being the woman God intended for you to be.