Tag Archives: Loyal Spouse

Help! How do I deal with discovering a secret affair child? Part 1

affair child

We recently had someone write with a request (slightly changed for confidentiality):

Can you write about how we should deal with discovering a sibling born out of adultery? In this case the Loyal Spouse was not aware there was a child conceived of adultery, as the child was hidden and never revealed. The Disloyal Spouse introduced their parents and siblings to the hidden child, and they helped the Disloyal hide the child until the marriage was over. How do I deal with this discovery?

We’re going to answer this request from two points of view.  First–today–we’ll answer “How a Loyal Spouse, married several decades, would deal with discovering their Disloyal Spouse had a child that they didn’t know even existed from an affair in the past.” Tomorrow we’ll address “How a young adult would deal with discovering their parent had other children by other people.”

In the first instance, the Loyal Spouse and Disloyal Spouse were married for many years. Apparently at some point in the past, the Disloyal Spouse had an affair and created a child with the Affair Partner. The Loyal and Disloyal did not split up or divorce, and they continued with their marriage for many more years,  and they had a family together … children.  Whether the reconciliation was successful or a rug-sweep we don’t know; whether issues were addressed or avoided we don’t know.  But we do know that the Loyal Spouse did not divorce the Disloyal for many years, and we do know that the Loyal Spouse didn’t know there was an affair baby.  That child was not part of the Loyal Spouse’s life or part of their family unit.

Therefore, to the Loyal Spouse, discovering that there was a hidden affair child would be equivalent to discovering adultery that is going on right now.  The trauma of discovering infidelity is in the present because the discovery is in the present–even though the actual unfaithful activity was many years in the past.  From the Loyal Spouse’s point of view, this will be “as if it is happening now” because the shock is occurring now. This is what it feels like: “Finding Out: What It Feels Like to Hear that Your Spouse is Having an Affair

How would the Loyal Spouse deal with this?  Well our whole site is full of ways to cope with discovering your spouse had an affair!  You could start with this series: “How to Rebuild After an Affair: Step 1 Forgiveness” (there are links to the other steps) and this series is all about the stages that occur as you deal with discovering adultery (again there are links to the other stages).  The Loyal Spouse is going to have to work through this traumatic experience.

But overall I think we would recommend that the Loyal Spouse ask themselves “What does the Bible say about dealing with trials?” and “What does the Bible say about dealing with difficult people?”  How did Jesus respond to people who challenged Him and tried to trap Him?  How did He respond to those who were rude or sinful? Was He harsh or dismissive or abrasive?  Nope–He showed patience, He rebuked when it was necessary, and sometimes He remained silent.  Copy Jesus when dealing with both the Disloyal and the Affair Partner.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you

~Luke 6:27–31

It’s pretty clear in this verse how Jesus wants us to act, even toward those who are our enemy. That’s not to say that we are commanded to be a doormat and allow our enemies to keep hurting us, but we are told to be so profoundly changed by the Holy Spirit with us that we do the exact opposite of what comes naturally.  We are supposed to be so different that we are transformed.

Tomorrow, Part Two of this little series.  We’ll talk about how a young adult would deal with discovering their parent had other children by other people.

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My Spouse Cheated and Isn’t Showing Any Remorse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, let’s examine the letter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

They also may learn things about one another!

The Loyal Spouse continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.” 

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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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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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