Day 24: Lessons from Infidelity


I am pleased to be able to say that I have not been through this.  I think this is the worst betrayal for a spouse – that someone you love and trust can take what is yours and give it to someone else.  I have always, since before hubby and I even married, said that I can handle anything in life, but don’t cheat on me and don’t hit me.

But, I do believe in second chances.

And although I have no idea how I would react except to be totally furious and hurt and betrayed, I would like to think I can give hubby and myself a second chance.  After all, he is my husband – no one else’s.

However,

Having not been in that situation it is very difficult to say and because the marriage covenant has now been broken, I think each situation has to be taken on its merits.  There will be no blanket rule to follow here.

But, whether you decide to stay or decide to go, always remember grace.

And remember how much you have been forgiven.

And whilst you may feel like you’ve never done anything so horrendous as to betray someone you love through infidelity, we all need grace.  And we all need forgiveness.  Do not let a “I’m better than you attitude” to take over while you are trying to decide your future.

In today’s 31 Days to a Better Marriage post, Alecia Starks has lived this awful betrayal.

And she decided to stay.

Twelve years into our marriage, I found out that Clint had an affair.  A few days after his initial confession I found out there was more.  He’d had multiple affairs over the course of almost four years.  It was completely devastating and life-altering.  In all of the ways you could possibly imagine.  It was also completely life-altering in a plethora of good ways as well.  It completely rocked our marriage as we knew it.  It turned everything upside down.  It required us to take a long hard look at the state of our union and be honest about what we wanted our marriage to actually look like.  Reference here.

Alecia Stark shares some amazing insights into marriage that I believe hold true for all marriages – and in life just generally – not just those marriages touched by infidelity.

I’d like to share some of the most important truths that we came to learn about marriage as we walked through infidelity in hopes that you can take some of it and apply it to your marriage as well:

*Unrealistic expectations will kill your marriage.

Unspoken expectations will kill it just as fast.  Your marriage will never look like your parents so quit silently expecting your husband to be just like your father.  Your marriage will never be like your favourite Hollywood love story.  They aren’t real.  Quit expecting your spouse to talk to you sweet every moment of every day, to be perfectly romantic at all the right times, and to say all the right things just when you need them.  Reference here.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and hurt.  Take things as they are and work to make things better.  And please, please, please don’t compare your marriage to your parents, your best friend, your pastor or anyone else.  What God has given you is uniquely for you.  Accept that and embrace it.

And yes, I know it’s not easy when you see how happy Mr and Mrs Jones are down the road and you know that you are your hubby are battling in some area.  But Mr and Mrs Jones may land up filing for divorce in five years’ time and you may not.  Each couple’s walk is different.

We set ourselves and our marriages up for failure when we go into them with unspoken, unrealistic expectations for our spouses that they can never measure up to.  It is more than okay to have expectations but we can’t create ones that your spouse can’t or won’t live up to. My husband is not a huge romantic by nature. I love all of those little gestures like hand holding, coming home with a single rose, little back massages.  When we were dating he actually told me he didn’t like giving messages. Yet, what did I do? Continued to harbour that expectation that in my marriage I would have a husband who would give me massages whenever I wanted. Years later, he knows how much I enjoy them and we meet in the middle. It’s not something I expect and it’s something that’s even more treasured when it’s given.  Reference here.

*Your spouse will fail you.

Plan on it.  A while ago, we read about marriage speakers who will have their audience turn to their partners and actually have them say this to each other. “You will fail me.”  Your spouse might not fail you in the ways that my husband did me, but they will still fail and fall short.  It’s inevitable.  If we stop elevating our spouse’s to God-like status and remember that they are fallible human beings we are more apt to accept and respond to failures and disappointments with more grace.  Reference here.

Everyone at some point will fail us.  Some of us like to hold onto bitterness and disappointment, but I really hope that you (and I) will have the grace to accept that our spouses (and our parents, siblings, friends) are just people.  People, who like you, are just simply trying to do the best that they can.  They carry their own hurts and heartaches and secret desires and yes, at some point, you, too, will fail them.  That is also inevitable.

*Forgiveness is key.

If we are in relationship with people who are going to fail us and not meet our expectations we are going to have to learn to be forgivers.  One of the first things I did when Clint confessed was forgive him.  I just heard God speak to my heart and I knew.  Didn’t I keep making the same mistakes over and over?  Did I desire forgiveness every time I failed?  Lack of forgiveness to me felt like I was telling not only my husband but also God that what Clint had done was just too big.  Too big to forgive.  Too big for God to heal.  And that’s not true.  Nothing is too big, or too bad, or too awful for God to completely restore and make new.  Reference here.

And remember to pray – you may not find the strength within yourself to give your spouse, or to lower your expectations, or to accept your life as it is, but God can give you that strength.
Do not hesitate to reach out and daily keep doing all you can to make your marriage all it can be!  Reference here.
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