Question: My husband was unfaithful. What should I do?
Oh sweet one, I am so very sorry. Your heart is broken and your marriage is broken…that is so much to take in, so here are some very gentle thoughts for your very fragile heart.
Do not rush into any decisions. Do not commit to anything right now. Do not say in the heat of the moment that you’re leaving and your marriage is over; but also, do not make grand gestures to dig in your heels no matter what. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: never get a haircut while pregnant. In other words, when you’re hormonal or in a crisis or grieving, you are not in your normal and right state of mind, and therefore, humungous decisions should, if at all possible, be set aside for a time. There will come a time when you absolutely need to decide if you’re going to try to save your marriage or if you’re going to walk away from your marriage, but today is not that day.
In the case of adultery, you are allowed to divorce your husband. But let me be clear: you are allowed to; that doesn’t mean you have to. You have God’s free and clear on this one; but you also have every right to choose to stay.
Is your husband repentant, truly repentant, as in you can tell his remorse is real and not just to garner favor with you to keep you from kicking him out? Or, did he just get caught and he’s more upset about that part? Where your husband stands in all of this is a huge factor.
All marriages take work, but marriages where the vows have been broken were usually precarious to begin with. My point is: whether you leave or stay, you more than likely have two difficult roads to choose between. There is much to think about. Do you have children? How old are they? How have they been affected by your marriage up to this point? How would a divorce affect them? How is your financial situation? Will you be able to live on your own? Would you have to move? Do you have outside support? Neither path will be easy; both will take your full commitment and a lot of extra strength.
Every marriage takes two people, but every person has free will and it just takes one person to sin and break the vow. Now is not the time to dwell on your part…that time can come after some healing has taken place; but for now, know this: you didn’t force your husband’s hand. Even if you two hadn’t had sex in years, he was still responsible to keep his vow to you. I actually heard of someone saying to a woman whose husband had been unfaithful, “What did you expect…” How shaming and inappropriate and just plain wrong were those words! Yes, you had a part to play in your marriage, but unless you set him up on a date, this was not your fault. Bottomline.
Give yourself time. Lots and lots of time. Trust has been broken. And in case you were wondering or are being told otherwise, your husband is the one who must rebuild the trust. You do not need to make yourself muster up feelings of trust that you do not have; this part one hundred percent rests on him. You are allowed to determine the timeline and what you need in order for trust to be rebuilt. Meaning, if part of the initial consequence was that he move out, he shouldn’t be pressuring you six weeks in to come back. When you’re ready, you invite him back. Also, if what you need from him is that each night you look at his phone, then if his heart is in the right place of trying to win you back and rebuild trust with you, he had better be willingly showing you his phone every night. And not with the caveat that you have to do it as well, because you didn’t break the trust.
There is so much more to this…I could go on and on. So I will end with two things.
First, we are all sinners. And Jesus already died for what your husband did. You will eventually need to get to the point of forgiving him (which doesn’t also mean you must reconcile). But for now, just work on treating him with the kindness and respect you would show a stranger or a neighbor. Do not place huge expectations on yourself. Be very, very gentle with yourself during this time.
And secondly, cling to Jesus. Beg him to reveal himself to you. Let this time propel you into his arms. You’re in the fire; you might as well benefit from an added measure of tenderness from God. Ask him to walk you through this and to stay extra close. He promises to.