Tag Archives: Disloyal Spouse

Ask Affaircare: How Could You Be So Heartless? Have a Little Sympathy!

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 lady who commented on our “Sample No Contact Letters” page.  She writes:

Wow … Yes, I know that we can disagree, but your response is just about the most heartless thing I’ve ever read. The truth is that the cheating partner has deeply hurt BOTH the spouse and the affair partner. In my case, I was wooed and pursued relentlessly. Yes, I should have resisted and I did try numerous times to end things from my end, but every single time, this man came after me full throttle with beautiful words, love songs, everything he knew to wear me down to opening my heart to him again.

I gave SIX YEARS of my time, my emotions, my heart, my love to this man. Yes, it was wrong and I take full responsibility for that. But to encourage men (or women) to chop someone off without ONE WORD of kindness or apology or at least a simple well wish for the future is heartless. The affair partner is a person too … there is incredible (almost life-threatening) pain on our end too. Many of us are good, loving people who made a terrible decision. I feel that the cheating partner owes us at least a tiny recognition for the fact that we hurt too. That he/she wronged us too by making promises they wouldn’t/couldn’t keep, seducing us with many thousands of hours of communication and love and affection.

In my case, I understood completely (and supported) the decision to end the affair and return to his wife. But the pain inflicted at the end (by the approach you are recommending) caused me to feel so completely worthless that I have considered suicide just to end the pain. I was tossed aside as if I were a $50 whore that he’d spent a night’s fling with … not someone who invested six years of my life, built a strong friendship above and beyond anything sexual, stood with him emotionally through some really challenging times and truly loved him.

As a Christian, I would challenge you to rethink the statement that “all empathy should be toward the spouse.” I believe it is possible to make it clear that the affair is over without dehumanizing and treating the affair partner like a worthless piece of shit. In my case, HE PURSUED ME RELENTLESSLY up until two nights before he ended things. He was pressuring me for video-chat sex two nights before … and you’re telling me that I don’t even deserve a simple acknowledgement or apology that he wronged me as well? I cannot tell you how far that would have gone to heal my heart.

I never see Jesus treating someone with such complete disregard. I agree with no contact .. but not with the detached cruelty expressed in these letters. What would be so wrong with simply saying, “I am so sorry for the pain I’ve also caused you and sincerely apologize for the selfishness that I showed in creating a relationship with you that I should not have. I hope that you will find healing from the pain that I’ve inflicted on you I wish you all of the best for your future” That simple kindness would at least acknowledge that this woman/man is a person too.

To pretend there is no emotion involved in severing a six year relationship is ludicrous. To pretend that the only woman’s heart that matters at all is the wife’s is very simplistic. This man wronged TWO women and we both deserve the decency of that pain being honored … at least with one small sentence of kindness and warmth.

PLEASE reconsider this … I have spoken to so many other “other women” who have also been devastated by this approach. The manner in which our affair was ended is truly the most crushing, demeaning thing that has ever happened to me …. even though I was wrong and sinned, I have value and worth as a human being.

Dear Ms. Have a Little Sympathy,

This is Cindy writing from Affaircare, and I wanted to respond to this one today because this issue is very important to me, personally. The first thing I do want to let you know is that I, myself, was a formerly Disloyal Spouse, so I do not write to you as if I am a blameless, perfect person. I do understand that as human beings, we do sometimes make poor choices and do the wrong thing, as I did it myself!  I also realize that often when we make a poor choice, that the consequence is excruciatingly painful. The second thing I do want to let you know is that we, at Affaircare, do not not want anyone–Loyal Spouse, Disloyal Spouse, or Affair Partner–to believe there is not HOPE. We are nouthetic counselors so that means we engage people in biblically-directed discussions so the Holy Spirit can bring about change in personality and behavior. We use the Bible, and not “psychology” or the popular opinion as our guide.

That being the case, I’d like to start this letter by talking about feelings. Feelings are the perception of a bodily state as pleasant or unpleasant; they are responses to judgments made about the environment or oneself. These judgments trigger body chemistry to orient our body to meet the situation. The body chemistry accounts for “feelings” or “emotions.” Some examples of feelings would be that you feel “happy” or “sad” or “good” or “bad.”

However, one does not “feel” inferior. That’s not an emotion brought about by body chemistry. It’s an expression of a judgment, attitude or conviction about your own self–“I AM inferior”–a conclusion reached about your own behavior, attitudes, character or capabilities. You wrote that you felt like “…a $50 whore that he’d spent a night’s fling with … not someone who invested six years of my life, built a strong friendship above and beyond anything sexual, stood with him emotionally through some really challenging times and truly loved him.” Since it is a self-judgement, though, there is HOPE because the Holy Spirit can bring about change in personality and behavior!

doing-judgment-feeling-doing

It’s important to know what a feeling is and isn’t because when the Disloyal Spouse married their Loyal Spouse, they made very specific promises such as forsaking all others. The entire point of marriage is to say to one other human being “I willingly volunteer to give you 100% of my affection and loyalty, and I willingly volunteer to spend the rest of YOUR LIFE getting to know you deeply and treating you in a loving way.” Because of this promise, Disloyal Spouses actually morally and legally have a duty to their Loyal Spouses. They do not have a moral or legal equivalent to any other human being on the planet.

Unfortunately, with Hollywood showing us that love is a “feeling”–something like “star-crossed lovers who see each other across a crowded room and overcoming all obstacles they fulfil their destiny”–most people have no idea what Real LOVE is. It’s not having another person “complete you” or having your needs met by someone. It’s definitely not looking at your lover’s spouse as an obstacle to overcome either! Real Love is not “love yourself” or “self-esteem” or supporting sin or offering sympathy by feeling bad for you. In fact, Real Love is not a “feeling”! Feelings change and are not dependable! Think about it: day-to-day you can “feel” different just because you’re hungry, tired, or it’s a time of the month. So “feelings” come and go, wax and wane, and roll in and out like the tide, but Real Love is like I Corinthians 13. Real Love is FOREVER–so it just couldn’t be talking about a “feeling.”

Real Love is the ultimate answer to all problems of living–Love is our goal, here at Affaircare! But Real Love is serving and is obedience-based. Real Love is an ACTION–a choice. Between human beings, Love is when you choose to treat another person in a loving way. Between humans and God, Love is obeying God. So if I really and truly love you, I’m not going to encourage you to continue to sin–I’m going to treat you in the most loving way I know, and that’s to encourage you and help you in every possible way to obey God. I’ll only say this once: disobeying God comes with some excruciating consequences. If you disobey and repent, that does not automatically mean that God will take away the painful consequence of the disobedience you chose! So if I love you, and I do, I will do my very best to support you in your obedience.

Finally I know you wish I would support you, and from what you wrote, I don’t think you wish I would encourage or endorse the affair. It sounds like you wish I would tell the Disloyals to send one last love letter to their Affair Partner to say goodbye…or maybe at least offer one last bit of tender kindness to someone who loved them well. I would like to let you know why I DON’T endorse that. It’s for two reasons:

1) Disloyal Spouses have a duty to their Loyal Spouse not to their Affair Partner. Now, I’m not saying that any human being has the right to treat another human being with hatred and harm, but rather that when it comes to consideration, a spouse owes 100% to the person they married. Not even 1% is theirs to give away! Think of it like a person who has had their leg caught in an explosion. There are chunks of leg still hanging there, but the damage is so extensive that the leg can not be reconstructed. So is it more compassionate to cut off the leg in one, swift slice with a scalpel? Or is it more compassionate to gradually cut off a little bit at a time every day over several days?

It’s the same here. The Disloyal Spouse gave away what was not his/hers to give. Taking it away and returning to their spouse is going to cause DEEP pain to the person they have injured (you)! You may wish he gradually cut off a little every day, but that actually just extends the pain. It’s more compassionate to have one swift cut-off and then you can be on your way to healing and learning how to live as an amputee. That’s why I encourage Disloyals to send a letter that cuts it off 100% thoroughly and that gets them back in the habit of giving 100% to their spouse again rather than prolonging the sin of giving some portion to someone else.  But make no mistake, the Disloyal’s and the Affair Partner’s choices  cause harm just like an amputation.

2) Offering “support” and “sympathy” by just feeling bad for you is not a help. A nouthetic counselor will never support sin, but rather point out biblical principles and use kind, concerned, confrontation to bring repentance, faith, and hope. The aim is HOPE through change. It’s not sympathy to stand back and feel bad for you; it is sympathy to ACT. Look at the Good Samaritan. He didn’t see the wounded man and just “feel bad for him”–he ACTED, bound his wounds AND took him to a place that could care for him AND PAID FOR IT! He showed mercy and love by acting. If I were to offer support or sympathize, that would mean there are no better options, and I’d be standing by while you suffer. Instead of standing by, I’m rolling up my sleeves and jumping in to actually offer HOPE–doing something concrete.

So I do understand that indeed you hurt tremendously and that you felt deep feelings and that losing someone you loved is very hard. But I want you the hurt to end. I want you to recover and feel “good” again, and the fastest way to do that is to encourage you to discontinue all connection with your Disloyal right away, and to return to obeying God and living in a way that pleases Him, even if it’s not easy for you.

Faithfully,

 

~Cindy J. Taylor

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You Want Me to FORGIVE?

forgiveness

 

I was listening to a podcast from two of my favorite people: Lisa and Stu Gray from STUpendous Marriage, and the top of their podcast this week was “How Can I Forgive My Spouse?”    Honestly I thought that was a great question!  Exactly how IS someone supposed to forgive their spouse when their spouse is the one they trusted the MOST, and trust was betrayed?  Even when the Disloyal Spouse is repentant and ends their affair and wants to reconcile…HOW do you forgive?

Stu and Lisa have some great thoughts such as “Forgiveness takes time” and “We have to forgive them every day”…I’ll let you listen to their podcast to hear their thoughts.  But I thought it might be useful and helpful to look at some Bible verses about forgiving others and comment directly on verses.

Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Comment: The main thing to learn from this verse is that these are words from Jesus, who is telling us what is important to God–he’s indicating what is a priority.  Although God is indeed pleased by offerings at the altar, note that Jesus tells us that offerings are nice, but RECONCILING with a brother (or sister) is priority over giving gifts.  Who is a closer brother or sister than your spouse?  If your spouse has something against you, it says to leave the offering and go be reconciled first.  And notice this too–Jesus says that the one who did something against the brother is to be the one initiating the reconciling and putting action into it.  Don’t just say “Oh sorry” and carry on as the same person…leave the altar!  Travel to where they are! Make the effort! Ask for forgiveness!  Work it out!  Do what you have to do in order to make it right with them … and THEN go back and give the gift to God.


 

Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins

Comment:  A lot of people take this verse out of context, but if you look at the entire chapter, Jesus is teaching his disciples to not be hypocrites and to not practice their righteousness out in public.  In his day (and now-a-days too) a lot of the “religious leaders” would act all pious and holy in front of the people, but in real life they wanted the best seats, wanted their name on the plaques, and wanted people to see them praying…but in their hearts they were selfish, spiteful, jealousy, adulterous and AWFUL!  So Jesus’ theme is “don’t be a hypocrite” and this verse is RIGHT AFTER the Lord’s Prayer.  So here, Jesus is essentially saying “Man, how can you expect God to forgive for your sins, when you aren’t a forgiving person yourself?”


 

Matthew 18:35
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Comment:  Right before this verse is the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.  Do you know the story?  There was this servant and he owed his master $10,000.00 so the master says “Okay sell this servant and his wife and kids, and we’ll settle the debt” and the servant begs and pleads not to have his family torn apart and says “If you give me a year I’ll pay you back, I promise!” The master has compassion, cancels the whole debt, and lets him go.  Now some other servant owed this guy $10, so the servant says “Pay up or else!” and the other servant says “Please I can’t pay right now but if you give me a year I’ll pay you back, I promise” and the unforgiving servant said “TOUGH you owe it!” and threw the guy in prison.  Now the other servants were mad at the unforgiving one and told the master, who called him in front of him and said, “YOU WICKED MAN!  I cancelled your huge debt and showed you mercy–shouldn’t you have done the same thing to your fellow-servant?” Then the master sent him to prison to be tortured until he could pay his debt.

What can we learn from this?  Oh it’s easy.  We owe an ENORMOUS debt to the Lord for forgiving us our sins.  Shouldn’t we also show mercy to our fellow-servants?


 

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.

Comment:  Okay I love this one.  First, notice that it doesn’t say that if someone sins against us we are supposed to be milquetoast and just accept their sinning.  WE ARE SUPPOSED TO REBUKE THEM!  That’s not vengeance, but rather calling sin by its name, and letting them experience the natural consequences of choosing to sin!  Don’t cover it up.  Don’t pretend “it’s okay.”  Don’t agree with it and let it keep happening!  And then you notice it says “IF THEY REPENT.”  We aren’t told to forgive someone who isn’t really sorry and hasn’t really changed; this verse is specifically addressing someone who is actually remorseful and repents = 180 degree change.   So they step in it…and repent.  They try to be different and still do it wrong…and repent.  They try again and sin against you again…and repent.   They are not being their old, sinful self but they are trying but head off in a wrong direction…and repent.  They make a mistake…and repent.  See what I mean?  Note that it says we MUST forgive them.  It’s a command.


 

Romans 12:20
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.

Comment: This verse doesn’t specifically have the word “forgive” or “forgiveness” in it, but I added it because here Paul is talking about how to treat an “enemy.”  This is how a Christian is supposed to act toward someone who is openly hostile and at enmity in every way–in other words, definitely not a fellow brother or sister in Christ!  If someone who is 100% opposed to me is hungry, I am supposed to feed them. If someone who hates me and would like to see me dead is thirsty, I’m supposed to give him something to drink. Matthew 5:38 -48 tells us even more about how to treat an enemy. So if that’s how we are to treat someone who is our ENEMY…  how much more loving and kind should we be to someone who is our brother, our sister, or co-heir in Christ?


 

2 Corinthians 2:5-8 NIV
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

Comment: One thing to learn from these verses is that it is possible to be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”  Now suppose someone has caused you grief–I think breaking trust and betraying your spouse via adultery counts as “causing grief”–and thank God they see that what they did was wrong and repent = 180 degree change from the way they were acting.  Paul says here that if the person is not forgiven and comforted, there is a risk the person could be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  I believe what Paul is referring to is the feeling a truly repentant Disloyal has of being worthless, unlovable, and lower than a worm under the mud of your shoe because of what they’ve done and all the damage they did.  Paul literally URGES us to reaffirm our love for the one who has caused us grief!  So it’s not a commandment per se, but Paul, via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling us that reaffirming our love for the one who has caused us grief and repented is pleasing to God.


 

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Comment: Man, do I really need to comment on this one?  Just because it’s your spouse and they caused you grief doesn’t mean you now have the right to rage at them and hold bitterness against them.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  These verses are pretty self-evident, I’d say.


 

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Comment: Again, pretty self-evident, I’d say.  When your spouse commits adultery, you DEFINITELY have a grievance against them.  But what does it say?


 

“What about a spouse that doesn’t repent or doesn’t ask for forgiveness?” 

Comment: Well we do know how God has told us to treat our enemies–those who are openly hostile and at enmity with us.  If your Disloyal Spouse had an affair and refused to end it and is divorcing you, I would say that qualifies as “openly hostile and at enmity with you”..wouldn’t you?  So we know that we are to LOVE our enemies.  We are to feed and clothe them.  We are to turn the other cheek.  If they force us to walk one mile, we walk two.  If they sue us for our shirt, we’re supposed to give them our pants and coat too!

I don’t see anywhere where God says “…if they are hostile to you, it’s okay to be hostile back” so for a Disloyal who doesn’t repent, I’d join with Paul and urge you to forgive them and treat them with godly love for two reasons: a) if you hold bitterness and rage in your heart, it will eat away at YOU …, and b) if you treat them in a way that is counter-intuitive to the wisdom of this world, your very actions may lead them back into reconciling their relationship with God.

Clues that a Disloyal Spouse Has Really Changed

Shrek-pleading-cat

 

“Please don’t cut off all contact with me.  If you do there will be no chance of reconciling, and I want to change. I’m serious. What if I change and you’ve closed the door on our marriage?”

We’ve all heard these words like these from our Disloyal Spouse, or if we are the Disloyal Spouse, we’ve said something to this effect to our Loyal Spouse, and with those words the Loyal plunges into a sea of confusion and uncertainty. What if  their spouse DOES change? What if they HAVE ALREADY changed? What if they are in the process of changing? Should I forgive them? How can I tell if they mean it or if they are just saying it to get what they want?

The way to tell if a person has really changed or not is outlined for us in Ephesians 4, specifically starting with verses 22-24:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24

In this chapter, Paul itemizes for us the four steps involved in TRUE change (transformation):

  1. Put off your former way of life–your old self –vs. 22.
  2. Be made new in your mind –vs. 23.
  3. Put on a new life that is like God–true righteousness and true holiness –vs. 24.
  4. You’ll a demonstration of the change in the way you live –25-32.

This is also true for the person who was formerly a cheater and has now had a true transformation in their attitude and life.  They will also go through all four of these steps and all four will be observable and obvious.

First, they will “put off their former way of life”, so if they were formerly a flirt or they watched porn or they met others through chat rooms, they will STOP THAT.  If your Disloyal is telling you that they’ve changed will still engaging in their affair or still going to the internet to chat for hours, then they have not really changed.  The very first step is to stop doing what they used to do.

But just stopping the activity is not enough.  Imagine a person who is an alcoholic.  If all they do is stop putting liquor to their lips and swallowing, they haven’t changed inside.  They haven’t changed their minds, their thoughts, their attitudes toward alcohol at all!  So the second step in authentic change is to actually change your MIND–renew it.  We have to change what we think (the words and when, etc.), and this will change our attitude, which is our “set way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.”  When a Disloyal is sincere in their change, they will not only stop being unfaithful, but will also change the way they think about infidelity and they will change what infidelity means to them.  Whereas they used to see unfaithfulness as “fun” and “exciting” and “enjoyable” they will have renewed their minds and said “STOP” every time they thought of their Affair Partner and instead replaced it with the truth about the AP: they lack character and morals!  And whereas they used to think of their spouse as “a nag” and “a prude” and “controlling” they will have renewed their minds and said “STOP” every time they thought like that and replaced it with the truth about their spouse: they were deeply hurt and still had the courage and grace to hang in there!

 

Now right about here, a lot of Loyal Spouses are fooled, because often a Disloyal can convince their Loyal Spouse that they have stopped talking to or spending time with their AP, and they can even say the right words that seem to indicate their attitude toward adultery has changed.  But Loyal Spouses–word of warning!  Stopping the behavior and saying words that seem like the thinking has changed IS NOT ENOUGH to indicate true, repentant change.  The third step is a necessary condition.  Verse 24 tells us that true repentance (true change) requires that they also put on a new self.

Finally, if Paul had left it at that, we might have been left to wonder what he meant or had to speculate about what “new self” he was asking us to model, but Paul didn’t do that.  He gave us four practical illustrations of what it means to truly put off, renew, and put on a new self:

  1. The lying person not only stops his/her lying, but s/he begins to speak the truth–vs. 25.
  2. The thief not only stops taking from people, but s/he does something useful with his/her hands and becomes a giver–vs. 28.
  3. The person who swore and tore down with his/her words stops their crudeness and begins to build others up with their tongue–vs. 29.
  4. The harsh, angry, malicious person puts his/her bitterness away, and starts spreading kindness wherever s/he goes–vs. 31.

We can see that the person is doing 180 degrees the opposite of what they used to be doing, and more importantly, the person has taken the time for their life to demonstrate, through their behavior and actions, that they are DIFFERENT!

So we have a guide for telling when a Disloyal Spouse has had a real change.  When you see all four steps, then you know that things are truly different and the repentance is honest.  If you see that they have stopped committing adultery; if they have renewed their mind and how they think about their spouse and marriage; if they have put on a new self and it is 180 degrees the opposite of what they were doing; and if they invest the time to demonstrate in their life the new way of behaving…then it is real.  If you don’t see all four steps, then it’s not real change.

What It Feels Like to Discover That Your Spouse is Cheating

mourning

I recently re-read this blog I wrote back in 2010, and it so accurately describes that moment when you discover your spouse has cheated, that I thought I would post it again.  So without further adieu, here is “What It Feels Like to Discover that Your Spouse is Cheating.” 

________________________________________________________

As someone who works every day trying to save marriages that are rocked by an affair, I’ve often thought that somehow there is a disconnect between the Disloyal Spouse thinking “Yes I understand that it hurt you but I was hurt too” and the true understanding of what it is like for the Loyal Spouse when they first find out.  Speaking as someone who understands both sides, I can also say that no matter what adjectives a Loyal Spouse may choose to describe it (like “devastating” or “heartbreaking”) there just are not words to explain the bomb that’s been dropped and all the harm that’s been done.  Language is insufficient to convey the full depth of it and it certainly feels as if the Disloyal doesn’t “get it.”  I’ve often wished there was some way to communicate to a Disloyal what it’s like to hear your spouse is having an affair, and yet every different method or wording I’ve tried has fallen short…

…until today.

Dear Hubby and I are taking classes to become certified nouthetic counselors in addition to our marriage coaching.  If you’re wondering, the term “Nouthetic” comes from the Greek verb “noutheteo” (or the noun “nouthesis”) and means “to admonish, to warn, to teach or to counsel.”  The word is found in numerous passages of Scripture and describes the manner in which we are to counsel and help other Christians.  Biblical (nouthetic) Counseling seeks to change the heart, not just alter behavior (Mk. 7:21-23; Prov. 4:23).  One of our classes was given by a man who is a law enforcement chaplain and his class was basically how to tell if it is an urgent situation, an emergency, or a crisis…and what to expect in a crisis situation.  For example, often the person appears disoriented, becomes hypersensitive or confused, has poor concentration, may shake or shiver, and might go into shock.  It was during this class that I heard an example that hit so close to home that I realized it was very similar to the shock one experiences when you hear about the affair for the first time.

Your 17 year old gets his driver’s license and asks you for the car keys to go to the football game.  He’s going to meet his friends there, but he will not be driving any of them in the car and they don’t plan to go out afterward, so you trust him and give him the keys.  He’s responsible and returns home in a timely manner, and pretty soon you have faith in his maturity.  One day he calls and says there’s been a minor fender bender, but no one is injured and information has been exchanged.  There’s a small ding in the trust and it’s urgent but still–he handled it well and these things do happen.

A year goes by with no incident and this time the hospital calls.  There has been an accident and your son was in a car accident; but he just broke his leg and the other driver was at fault.  This is an emergency and is serious, but again all things considered, car accidents do occur…injuries do occur…

Then comes the day you give your son the keys and he says he’ll be home at 11pm, but midnight,1am, 2am, roll around and he doesn’t answer his cell phone.  You’re worried sick and wonder what happened.  At 3am you get a knock on the door and see two uniformed men, one with a chaplains badge on your porch and you know….

…and that moment right there is what it’s like to discover your spouse is having an affair.  That immediate “NOOOOOOO!” and the world dropping out from under your feet.  Everything you loved and lived for is dead, and the initial numbness and disbelief are quickly overshadowed with an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and loss.  The pain of hearing your spouse is having an affair has been reported as being greater than a spouse or child dying, and having been there, I’d agree that’s a true statement.  So next time you’re thinking “…I know I hurt you but I hurt too…” just remember the two uniformed officers at the door.

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Peeping, Prying and Private Investigations

peeping

Is snooping after an affair justified?  Is it right?  Wrong?

I was reading this post on Affair Advice “22 Months Later–A Setback” and it got me thinking about snooping and privacy in marriage.  Paraphrasing the post, the author is a recovering Disloyal Spouse, and he and his Loyal Spouse have been reconciling and doing fairly well in healing their marriage.  The event that precipitated this post, is that it has been 22 months since D-Day, and after a business trip, his wife went through his things looking for evidence, and she sort of freaked out because one evidence she was expecting to find was not there…and she took that to mean he had been lying. They had a set back in their recovery.

So on the one hand, Disloyal Spouses may feel like their Loyal Spouse is smothering them, giving them no privacy, and being their parent…telling them what to do, when to do it, and with whom they can do it.  On the other hand, the Loyal Spouses feel like their spouses were dishonest and covered things up so they could have their affair…and their trust in their spouse’s honesty was destroyed.  Now they just want to know what’s going on and be included rather than excluded.

Now I could tell you MY opinion and you know what it would be worth?   A hill of beans!  LOL  Instead, let’s see what the Bible has to say about peeping, prying and private investigations within a marriage.

One of the first mentions of marriage and this concept of privacy is in Genesis where it says that “Adam KNEW his wife Eve” (Genesis 4: 1, 17, & 25).  The Hebrew word used there is “yada” and people often associate this as “he had sex with…” but that is NOT all that “yada” means.  In these three verses, Adam shared himself and his life and his affection with his wife, Eve, and from that sharing of love, a child was conceived.  Yada/Knowing is sharing your thoughts and feelings so intimately with another person that your body follows along.  Yada is dedicating yourself to someone so that you can engage them in love and sharing.  BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!  “Yada” is also used in Prov. 12:10 where it says: “The righteous know [yada] the needs of their animals, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel. ”  Put simply, a wise person understands the needs of those around him/her and meets those needs (even of the ANIMALS!), but a foolish person is so self-centered they not only are they unaware of the needs of those around him/her but they are CRUEL to them!!  Yada is acting in mercy to those around you and meeting THEIR NEEDS.  Amazingly there is still more!!  “Yada” is also used in Jeremiah 22:15-16, where it says: “But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know [yada] me?” says the Lord.”  In this verse, the prophet is giving a SCATHING rebuke to a king who had been selfish, corrupt, and exploited others, and he is telling the horrible king what it is like to truly KNOW (yada) the Lord.  See what it says?  Yada is doing justice, showing mercy to the poor and needy, and living a life that shows good character.  In other words, Yada is faithfully living our covenant relationship with the Lord in EVERY ASPECT of our lives.

So I like and echo what Warrior Princess says in her blog “After the Affair–Living Life in the Open“.  Speaking as a former Disloyal Spouse, I do remember feeling like I was being watched a little–especially at first–but I also remember feeling like I earned that because I had kept so much hidden!  I did long for the day that my spouse would trust my honesty again, but I knew that in order for him to have faith in my honesty, that meant I had to:

a) BE HONEST– for a long, long time!  My words and my actions HAD to match, for a while!  and

b) BE OPEN– I had to stop hiding when I was hurt or lonely or disappointed.  I had to stop being one person with him and another person at work.  I had to open up my thoughts and feelings to him and let him KNOW me.  For so long I had been hiding certain aspects of what I thought or did, thinking he’d get mad or freak out, and that is actually disrespectful; it’s saying “I don’t believe you have the moral fortitude to deal with this maturely.”  I had to take the risk!

But even more than that–living life in the open–look at YADA up above: “To Know.”  Did you notice anything?  Let me restate the bold parts: “Yada is dedicating yourself to someone so that you can engage them in love and sharing. ” ” Yada is acting in mercy to those around you and meeting THEIR NEEDS. ” and “Yada is faithfully living our covenant relationship with the Lord in EVERY ASPECT of our lives.”  Did you notice that YADA “To Know” is not about YOU?  When you are in a marriage, getting “To Know” your spouse is not about getting them to engage YOU in love and sharing…it is YOU taking the time and spending the energy to do that FOR THEM.  When you are in a marriage, getting “To Know” your spouse is not about getting your spouse to treat you with mercy and meet your needs…it is YOU practicing mercy on a daily basis, forgiving their imperfections, and learning what their needs are and actively meeting them!  When you are in a marriage, getting “To Know” your spouse is not about living your life to yourself or for yourself…it is about faithfully, day in and day out, living in a covenant relationship with GOD and expressing that covenant in everything you do in your life.

So what do you do when your spouse is peeping, prying and investigating your private life?  I say let them.  Let them be included in your life.  Include them in your activities.  Share your thoughts and feelings.  KNOW them, and let them KNOW you.

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What if the grass really is greener?

greener-grab1

 

On the occasion, I have had Disloyal Spouses ask me, “What if the grass really is greener on the other side?” when speaking of their affair.  I think the answer may surprise you.

I assume that what a Disloyal Spouse is really asking is this: “What if the Affair Partner is a better match?” or “What if they are younger, make more money, or make me happier?”  Something like that–wouldn’t you think?  “What if I’m ‘affairing up’?  Does that make any difference?”

First, there is no one perfect match for you or for anyone.  You can choose someone who is exactly like you in every way and they may understand you easier and speak your Love Language, but in no way will you learn or grow or appreciate other personality types or qualities if they are exactly like you.  You can choose someone who is your exact opposite in every way and they may be very hard to understand and not “get” your Love Language at all, but in every way you will learn and grow and learn to appreciate the other personality types and qualities.  One way is “easier”–one is “harder” but which leads to a better person?  Which is a “better match”?  The best match for you may not be someone who is easy, but someone who challenges you!

Second, the vow you made was that YOU promised to spend your life learning how to love one and only one person: your spouse.  Your marriage vows did not say that now this other person would love you “exactly the way you like” or “meet all your needs the rest of your life”–your vows were YOU promising to love THEM.  YOU promised to investigate them the rest of your whole life…to learn to understand them…to learn what they find loving and do that…to learn what pleases them and do that…and to treat them in a loving way as long as you still draw breath.  People often confuse marriage with “YAY, now I have someone to love me and meet all my needs instinctively forever,” and what it really means is that you will love someone and meet ALL THEIR NEEDS and get to know them so well that you know just what to do to love them!  So if you are looking to someone else to “love you” and “make you happy” then no matter who you choose, you are going to be disappointed and break your promises to them.

Third, it’s impossible to ‘affair up’ because that is someone who has the personal values and morals that it’s okay to commit adultery.  If someone is actually an honest, moral, loving, upright person, the moment they found out you were married, they would say “You have an obligation to another person, and no matter what I may think or feel, I will not be involved in that kind of dishonest behavior.”  Instead, they found out you had a commitment to another and communicated to you through their actions that in their value system, it is okay to be dishonest, to betray trust, to put selfish personal needs ahead of the needs of those you love.  If that is their value system, how could you possibly ‘affair up’?  They may indeed be younger or have more money, but those things do not make them a better person.

Finally, let me just remind you of this: from your side of the fence it may appear as if the grass on the other side is very green and lush, but that’s because you’re thinking that you would get to take  everything on your side with you to that side.  In real life, that grass may look green because it’s painted (fake), because it’s astroturf (deception) or because there is a LOT of “fertilizer” over there…but there is no depth to the roots.  Once you move to that side of the fence, you LOSE what you have on this side of the fence (your home, half your time with your children, any needs your spouse met, any of your spouse’s finances, your dreams of retirement or vacations, even personal items!).  Then you get to the supposedly greener grass, find out it has no root, and since you now no longer have the home and the free time and the funds, the greener grass no longer wants YOU.   No matter how alluring the green grass may look, there is always a cost, and the cost is EXTREMELY HIGH.

 

So rather than looking longingly at the grass across the fence, I have a challenge for you.  Water your own lawn.  Weed it.  Feed it.  Cultivate the grass where you are and make YOUR LAWN to lawn everyone looks at with envy.  Make your own grass greener–do not go to other grass.

 

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A child born of adultery

baby

We had a GREAT question asked to us on our “The Purpose of No Contact” page.  It was such a great question, in fact, that I thought it would be helpful to several others in a similar situation if I wrote a post about it!   Here’s the question:

“What happens when a child is born from adultery, how do you sustain the no contact rule and do what is right for the child?”

The first thing I want you to do is to take a look at that picture at the top of this post.  Can you tell by looking at that picture if that child was conceived in love?  Can you tell if it is a child of rape or of adultery?  You can not tell, can you?  And to the baby…it can not tell either.  It is a human being whom God did not just “allow” to come into this world–He was actively involved in the conception and creating of life–even if the coming together of the sperm and the egg was through sinful circumstances.  So before we go any further, the baby — the child — is not involved in “how it was conceived.”  The child is an innocent, and the child needs love and needs a mom and dad in its life.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s jump into the actual question.  When one spouse is Disloyal and commits adultery, and the Loyal spouse is willing to reconcile, in order for the affair to truly END and the recovery to begin, there has to be complete and utter, 100% NO CONTACT with the Affair Partner.  I think when there is no child conceived, people generally understand why and how to do this.  But when a child IS conceived, what do you do?    HOW do you do it?   It seems impossible to cut all contact with the person who is the other parent of your child, and to be honest, it is extremely difficult!  BUT that is also one of the reasons why affairs are so destructive and the damage is so devastating–because the Disloyal puts the Loyal into the position of having an STD or a child that will be a constant reminder for life!

But getting beyond that, here are some practical ideas:

1.  Bear in mind that when a man and woman have children together and divorce, they may need to communicate ON THE OCCASION, but by-in-large they do not need to talk every day, they do not need to do things for each other, and they are no longer involved in each others’ day-to-day lives.  Thus, when your Disloyal Spouse claims that they need to be mettling in their Affair Partner’s life or be involved doing things on a daily basis… no they don’t.  No matter who is who, the female person had unprotected sex with someone and made a baby, and she made that choice; she’s responsible TO THE CHILD. And likewise the male person had unprotected sex with someone and made a baby, and he made that choice; he is responsible TO THE CHILD.  Now if they had been smart, they would have considered that the reason a person only has sex within a committed, lifetime marriage is for the stability it offers to their potential children!  But they were not smart, and now they do each owe THE CHILD, but neither one of them owes a thing to their adultery partner!!!!!  Their promise was to their spouse, and anything they owe (like loyalty or honor) is to their SPOUSE.

2.  Get everything about the baby/child legal and court-ordered.  Have a legal custody agreement, a legal parenting plan, and a legal child support order.  This is to protect both the Loyal and Disloyal Spouse from an Affair Partner out for revenge, and to the protect the child.  There should be a way to enforce visitation and where the child lives and when, and if there is a court-ordered custody and parenting plan, even if the Other Person goes insane, the court can help you enforce it.  Likewise there should be clearly-defined child support, which protects you by itemizing exactly how much is owed to whom and when…and can document/prove who gave how much to whom and when.  Of course, if you are the Disloyal Spouse you owe it to the child that you created to take care of its needs and provide for the child, same as if you and your spouse had a child together.  If you owe child support, YOU PAY IT–not your spouse.

3. There is absolutely no reason for either of the Affair Partners to email, chat, text or call each other.  Ever.  There can always be an intermediary, and that can be anyone: the Loyal Spouse, a pastor or mentor, a mutual friend, a parent, an attorney, or a day-care person.  The Affair Partner can send any communication to the intermediary, and the intermediary can get  the message to the Disloyal Spouse.  Period.  NO CONTACT.

4.  Exchanging the child does not require contact either!  There is no reason why the child could not be left at an intermediary or neutral place, and this works better as the child gets older.  For example, the “mom” leaves the baby at day care on Wednesday morning and goes to her work…the “dad” picks up the baby at day care Wednesday night on his way home from work.  Then he keeps the child until Sunday, when “dad” drives the child to Sunday School and “mom” picks up the child after Sunday School at church.   The drop off point could be McDonald’s, school, a sport (like if the child is in baseball) or practice, or a park!  When the child is just an infant baby, it may require more time with mom, but even as an infant, the baby could be dropped off and picked up at day care or a mutual friend’s house. Either way… NO CONTACT!

5.  The hardest part of having a child out of adultery is the honest fact that on the occasion there are going to be emergencies–but an “emergency” does not mean “baby mama drama”!!!  It means blood or fire.  It means the child got hurt or is ill.  If the child has a cold–that is not an emergency.  In the event of an actual emergency, I suggest that the Loyal and Disloyal Spouses just have a Mutual Agreement about how to handle it.  If you have a reasonable Other Person, if the affair was literally years ago, and if everyone is out of each others’ lives and pretty respectful, it’s conceivable the Loyal may be okay with the Disloyal getting true emergency contact.  It’s far from ideal, but having an affair is far from ideal!!  On the other hand, some Loyal Spouses may not be able to handle any contact ever, in which case I suggest that the emergency calls go to the Loyal Spouse.  I mean if A and B are married and B had an affair with C and had a child, C could call A and say “There is thus and such emergency” and A could tell B and meet at the Emergency Room!  Chances are that C would not be calling A with every little papercut either.

6.  Finally, if you are a Loyal Wife and your Disloyal Husband got the Other Woman pregnant, it is possible and okay for you to choose to love and raise and accept the child as your own together as a couple.  Likewise if you are a Loyal Husband and your Disloyal Wife got pregnant by the Other Man, there is no law that says you can’t choose to love and raise and accept the child as your own together as a couple either.  My point here is that often people just assume that the baby would live “elsewhere” and that does not HAVE TO be the case.  If you have the love within your heart to adopt a child and love it because you choose to commit to it–then maybe you have the love within to choose THIS child too.   If you can see past the circumstances of how the child came to your life, and instead see all the joys and laughs and energy and fun and life that the child will bring to you… then I encourage you to be the custodial parents!  Show the child what love really is: a choice to treat someone in a loving way.

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Adultery: An Equal Opportunity Evil

Lust sin

 

I received a comment today that was so good, I decided to make a blog post about it.  This was a comment to my blog post: “What NOT To Do If Your Spouse Is Cheating” and the person who commented wrote:

“Interesting. I know in hindsight that I did a little bit of spineless sniveling. Further hindsight would probably show that reparations would have been more sincere had I shown some dignity. Even to this day I harbor some resentment that I did not just laugh at the despicable nature of a dignified spouse of some class and worth stooping to build such a pathetic fantasy with HER mentally-challenged little welfare drunk. Today I know for a fact that I harbor even more anger towards “ladies” such as yourself who have this facade of purity wrapped around you as though you could do no wrong. You will be the first to spout lie after lie about how you never planned your rendezvous, you never committed certain acts of lust, and the warts on his genitalia never alarmed you. Newsflash ma’am. Ladies are perfectly capable at stabbing their partners in the back also.”

There is no one who is immune from sin, so we all know that anyone who tries to “look” pure is truly just presenting an external, hypocritical image.   “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23)    So every single one of us–you, me, our spouses–we have all disobeyed God, not done what He has told us to do, and done what He has told us not to do.  This is why Christ came to the world and became flesh–so that He could live the life we should have lived and then pay the penalty we should have paid!  The Good News is that while we were yet sinners, and at enmity with God…Christ died for us.  His righteousness is imputed to us.

As God would have it, I do happen to be a female person.  My male spouse did cheat on me, break up our family, and end my first marriage.  My current, second spouse is a male person, and his female spouse did cheat on him, break up his family, and end their marriage.  Together, we have worked with hundreds of couples, and I want to be sure this is crystal clear:  Adultery is an Equal Opportunity Evil.  It does not matter if you are male or female, you can still be the Loyal Spouse (whose spouse is unfaithful), and you can still be the Disloyal Spouse (who is the one who is unfaithful).  Your wealth, race, and creed do not exclude you from infidelity, and there is no demographic that is shielded.    In fact, if you think about it, in order for there TO BE an affair, there has to be TWO PEOPLE who are actively participating in actions which are inappropriate.  Now one of the two may be single, but they would still have to be acting that way with someone whom they know is taken and committed to someone else.  Yes, a single person is available to flirt–but the very FIRST thing you find out is whether or not the other person is also available.

So again, to be crystal clear, unless a person knows them self and their own weaknesses, and unless a person put limits and boundaries around themselves to protect themselves, their spouse, and their marriage from infidelity–it can very literally happen to anyone.  Any gender, any race, any religion, any socio-economic class, any location…  I do my best to write “Loyal Spouse” because it could be a man or it could be a woman.  I do my best to write “Disloyal Spouse” because any one who is a breathing human being could do the wrong thing and choose the evil choice.  In fact, we know that we all do:   “There is no one righteous,  no not one.”  (Romans 3:10)

How to Rebuild After an Affair: Step 5 W-T-F-S

Before there can be reconciliation, there are three things that need to happen for true growth and rebuilding to occur:

  • No Contact,
  • Transparent Honesty,
  • Agreement to work on yourself and your marriage

I will write about those three topics in the Affaircare newsletter this coming weekend–Sunday October 14th!  If you want to hear more, please feel free to subscribe right there on the right sidebar.   But TODAY, the topic is how to rebuild after the affair has ended.  How do  you pick up the pieces and build a new marriage?  What steps should we take to start making a marriage that is mature, healthy, loving and happy for both of us?

Step One: Forgiveness

Step Two: Let’s talk about Commitment

Step Three: Take Some Time

Step Four: Mutual United Understanding

Step Five: W-T-F-S

Invariably, as you two are carefully rebuilding your marriage, topics will come up that are difficult to discuss but that need to be brought up for a truly healthy relationship. The problem is that discussions like this were harmful to the marriage, in the past – usually due to one spouse wording it: YOU do this or that,” and the second spouse responding defensively and it all goes spirals downward into a fight from there.

As you can see, rebuilding your marriage is a step-by-step process, and each new step builds upon the previous step. When you two have forgiven each other, both committed to doing the work, taken some time together, and learned how to reach an enthusiastic understanding, you’re ready to start addressing some of the harder topics. One way to respectfully bring up a topic that is uncomfortable, and avoid the downward spiral, is to use the W-T-F-S method. This stands for: “When you…” “I Think…” “I Feel…” “So I’d like to request…” Let’s go over each letter!

When you…   This is where you would put into words the issue that needs to be addressed. The goal here is not to be blaming or pointing fingers, but rather to focus on a specific behavior or pattern. This is to identify the topic.

I Think…   At this point, share with your spouse the words you think inside your own head. We all have a voice inside our head like a running narration of what we think, so share those words—share what you think about the specific behavior or pattern and keep the focus on yourself not on your spouse. If you are blessed with a natural thinker type, you’ll find this one fairly easy—if you’re a feeler type, you will have to put your thoughts into words.

I Feel…   This is the point at which you share with your spouse how you feel about the specific behavior or pattern. Use words that describe your emotions, and try to stretch your vocabulary beyond “happy, sad, or angry”. For those who are a natural thinker type, here are a few words to help expand your emotional lexicon—if you’re a feeler type, you’ll be well acquainted with these words!

So I’d like to request…  This final step is actually extremely important; if you skip this step basically all you’re doing is complaining! This step identifies for your spouse what you would request of them to either fix the problem or make it work for you. At this step do your best to be specific and ask for what you need, and ask them if they’d be willing to do that. They are completely free to say “yes” or “no” but if they do say “no” ask them what they would be willing to do. Maybe they have a suggestion that really would work for you!

Finally, as an example, here’s what a W-T-F-S statement would sound like. The topic: when the Disloyal Spouse gets a cell phone call at home and goes to another room to take the call.

When you get a call on your cell phone and leave to take the call in another room,
I think that you’re trying to hide the conversation or who called,
I feel scared that I’m going to be hurt again and feel a little excluded,
So I’d like to request that if you do get a cell call, would you be willing to answer it right in front of me and take the call right then and there? If you need to go somewhere more quiet, let’s work out a quick signal between us.

This is post #12 in the CMBA 1/2 Marathon Blogging Challenge to post everyday for 13 days in October … AND is part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge!

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And on Fridays I also join this Godly Link-up:

Beholding Glory