It can be difficult to forgive a physical affair, but also when there is a cyber-relationship or pornography addiction – in fact, those transgressions can make it even more difficult to forgive and trust again. Today I specifically address a wife whose husband has committed such an offense.
I want to remind you that it won’t be easy to help him pick up the pieces. But if he is willing to continue on and start fresh, I encourage you to go against what popular belief is and not rush toward divorce and give up. If we love our husband with the same intensity that we love our children (they could hurt you, steal from you, talk behind your back, forget everything you taught them and turn away from the Lord…) we would forgive and never stop giving second chances.
Work Through Your Grief
After an affair, you must acknowledge your denial, anger, bargaining and depression before you can progress to acceptance and forgiveness. The process one has to take is the same as grieving the death of a loved one or the loss of a job… It is the process of grief. It might be easy to begin to let anger and selfishness take over. You will experience feelings of anger and confusion that need to be validated, especially in the case of a cyber-relationship, because in a sense, a cyber-relationship does not exist in the real world; it isn’t always physical and cannot be proven according to Atwood and Schwartz (2002). So even if the woman wishes she could go and ‘catch them’ in the physical act of infidelity, it is not always going to be so. Closure may be a difficult thing to obtain. Atwood and Schwartz (2002) suggest a ritual for new beginnings: Renew your vows or take a trip away to redefine your marriage and expectations. Additionally, in therapy (which will be a must- whether it’s with a professional counselor or a trusted individual such as a pastor or mentor), support for the wife in holding on to hope is key. It won’t be easy; it will be painful. Richard & Holly (2013) share the five steps to take to address hope for couples who have experienced infidelity:
- Submitting everything to the Lord,
- Being completely open and honest with each other,
- Seeking Christian counseling.
- Committing to rebuilding their marriage.
- Dedicating time to pray and read the bible.
When You Begin Again, Begin Right
You need to be open to admit which needs of your husband you have been ignoring or putting on the back burner. It will be helpful to remember our job in attempting to be God’s true woman; As women we are to respect, support, love, and provide sexual satisfaction for our husbands (DeMoss, 2008). It is our ministry and our calling. We cannot expect to be taken care of if we cannot also give in return. We must handle with care and make our husband the priority in our lives.
So much of the pornography addiction for men comes from this: It’s not all about sex- it’s about validation. She makes him feel like a man. She offers him her beauty, and it makes him feel strong. This is also the root of most affairs. Some woman comes along and answers his question. His wife has been giving him an “F”, and she comes along and says you’re an “A” to me, and he’s history” (Eldredge & Eldredge, 2005).
Affairs are the only grounds for divorce according to the Bible, but it is not mandatory. Jesus knew the truth about how ugly divorce is, hurting not only the husband and wife, but also the children, extended family and family friends (Clinton & Langberg 2011). With that in mind, it is important to reinforce the message of forgiveness for your husband. Not only to protect your marriage but to protect yourself and practice the Biblical concept of forgiveness. “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).
Atwood, J. D., & Schwartz, L. (2002). Cyber-Sex: The New Affair Treatment Considerations. Journal Of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 1(3), 37-56.
Clinton, T. & Langberg, D. (2011). Quick-reference guide to counseling women. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
DeMoss, N. L. (2008). Becoming God’s true woman (2nd ed.). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Eldridge, S. & Eldredge, J., (2005). Captivating: Unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul. Nashville, Tn: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Richard & Holly. (2013, August 23). Is there hope after an affair? [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.themarriagebed.com/problems/infidelity/hope-after-affair