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!
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.
~Cindy J. Taylor