Morning friend,

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Today’s Question: My husband says he wants to just move forward and work on our marriage, so he does not want to bring up his affair anymore, so he talks and acts like it never happened. But it is so hard when I only found out about it a month ago and it is constantly on my mind. He says he chose to be with me so he does not want to keep bringing up the affair. Should I not bring up his affair anymore to move forward and work on our marriage?

Answer: Aren’t you the lucky one. He chose you instead of his mistress…. and that means you should be grateful. You should not feel hurt or angry that he’s lied and cheated on you. Just forgive and forget. Get over it and quickly he tells you.

Here’s a reality check. He’s the one who broke his wedding vows. Broke your trust. Cheated on you with another woman and now he thinks you should be grateful because he chose you? Hello? My question for you is DO YOU STILL WANT TO CHOOSE HIM? He doesn’t get to make that decision right now. You do.

Adultery is one of the clear biblical grounds for divorce. Listen carefully to what he’s telling you. [Tweet ““I cheated. I lied. I broke your heart, destroyed our trust but since I came home to you, you need to forget about all of that.””] Is that true? No. 

He shows no repentance. And since he wants to move forward and work on your marriage, what exactly does that mean? It means that he will blame you for his cheating. That something was wrong with your marriage (or by implication you) so he had no other option but to cheat.

But that’s not true. [Tweet “Adultery is not a marriage problem – it’s a character issue that causes marriage problems – broken trust.”] There are plenty of unhappily married folks who do not cheat on their partner. Why not? Because they do not want to be a cheater and a liar. Your husband did something damaging to you and to your marriage but he refuses to look at what he did. He doesn’t want to let you talk about it or be a witness to the impact and pain it caused you. Why not? This is his work to do, not marriage work. 

You cannot rebuild broken trust with someone who is unrepentant and unwilling to do the hard work to understand why he felt entitled or justified to cheat in the first place. Granted he may have been unhappy or troubled about some things, but he chose to cheat. He could have gone to counseling. Talked with you. Gone to the pastor. Done lots of other things. His unhappiness did not make him cheat. If you don’t hold firm and he doesn’t do his work, you will be seeing a repeat of this pattern again and again and again. Is that what you want your marriage to look like? Him being free to cheat when he feels like it and you being obligated and grateful that he comes home?

I hope not. And if you’re tempted to give in to his nonsense, then you have your own work to do. For example, Are you afraid to be alone? Are you not capable of supporting yourself financially? Have you put your entire well-being in your marriage and it scares you to let that go? Are you afraid God will be angry with you don’t go along with your husband and say, “No this is too serious to ignore?” 

An affair is betrayal at its worst. You will have your own healing work to do around that. He has his own work of honest self-examination and self-reflection to understand and repent of what he has done. Next, he will need to care about the impact he has caused you and work to rebuild broken trust. If he is not willing to engage in any of this work, please do not expect him to be a faithful or honest man in the future.

This is tough truth, but strong medicine is meant to help not to harm. You asked this question because I think you already know the right path to take, but you need support. We’re here for you.

Friend, do you ever feel gaslighted by the nonsense of what your destructive husband says are your next steps forward? How do you get clear on what’s true?

10 Comments

  1. Kim on October 13, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    I think this applies to ANY toxic, destructive relationship… in any dynamic of ANY family abuse, workplace abuse, professional relationship abuse…. IF the offender minimizes, discounts your concerns about what they did, IF the offender tries to tell you what YOU must now do, instead of showing compassion, remorse, kindness… Instead of considering your personhood and the impact of what HE OR SHE did TO YOU… then they are basically letting you know that they saw nothing wrong with what they did, that they will likely do something similar as a pattern in the future.
    I think that is where it can get scary and a person has to really process what happened in the relationship, what they think about it, how they feel about it… and ask THEMSELVES…the hard question; “Where do I go from here?” The offender does NOT get to dictate the answer to that question.
    Curious questions might be (in this situation… which could be modified for abuse in situations with family members, employers, those you are professional or church relationships with who have abused…)
    1) I am curious, if the shoe was on the OTHER foot, and I had done (name the offense) to you, how do you think you would have responded to me?
    2) I am curious, since trust has been broken by you when you (name the offense), what are YOU willing to do to repair trust?
    3) If I make some direct requests of YOU for what I need from you, for trust to be rebuilt, are you willing to listen, and take some steps of action so I can see you are willing to rebuild trust?
    4) What do YOU think I will need to see from you for me to be able to trust you again?

    A statement such as; “I realize you would like for me to just trust you again and pretend it (name the offense) did not happen, but I am not comfortable with that scenario. I think doing that would be the “less healthy choice” for me. I am in an awful situation as a result of this… IF I were to just pretend it never happened, I would lose respect for myself and not be valuing myself, and I can’t do that anymore. IF I were to just do as you suggested and move on without ever thinking about it again, it would also send YOU the message that you can do whatever you want to me, whenever you want and that you will not be expected to be accountable or responsible for your actions andt hat you would not be expected to be accountable or responsible for how your actions impacted me. I cannot live with those options. I cannot choose those options for myself. So… I would like for you to take some time, and think about what I have said. Frankly, I need some time myself to deal with the fall out of what I am thinking and feeling about you now that this has happened. I am going to choose to walk in truth, even if that is difficult. So, my one request for today, is for you to think about the questions I have asked… really think about them, and consider answering those questions to yourself. Then, I really would like to know what your answers to the questions are…

    I think it is a good idea to write them down, give them to the offender… so they can go back and read and reread them… SHOULD they choose to.

    I think his or her response will tell you a lot about what you need to know moving forward.
    IN SUCH A SITUATION… IF you cave, and IF you capitulate to just pretending it never happened, then you are the same as saying; “You have carte blanc to do whatever you want to me whenever you want.. without accountability, without responsibility, without you having any regard for how your actions impact me.”

    God tells us we are to love others AS ourselves. Do allow someone to do to you what you know in your heart dishonors God and devalues and disrespects you. Choose to love yourself as God calls you to… Do not sin against yourself in that way.

    • JoAnn on October 14, 2021 at 2:55 pm

      Well said, Kim. You made some very good points. I do think, however, that you meant to say, “Do NOT allow someone to do to you what you know in your heart dishonors God and devalues and disrespects you.” I think you left out the NOT, a very important word here.

    • Autumn on October 15, 2021 at 7:10 pm

      My thought is words, words, words. I think he turned you out a long time ago. The fact that he left and came back, and had no remorse shows how much he disregards you. It is unrealistic to make any new or long term plans with this man. I know we like to imagine that says this or that will change something, but it won’t. Figure out if you want to be married to an adulterer. Then take action You are his in-between default woman. Give him time, he is already looking for his next romantic escape. You are convenient to him, if only you would stop talking about it, everything would be perfect.

  2. Kim on October 13, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    continued… speak truth, in love. But speak truth in response.

  3. Hanna on October 14, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    Hi Leslie, I asked this question a few weeks ago but never got a response. What is your opinion of the Center for Peace abuse cessation program? The program mission is “to give abusers a chance to change their behaviors, change their lives, and bring peace into their home. Center for Peace helps abusers see the truth of their behavior.” This would obviously be an option only for husbands who are willing and open-minded enough to agree to sign up for the program… but do you have any personal experiences/stories with people who have gone through this program? In your opinion, is it worth the cost, time (year-long), and effort?

    • Leslie Vernick on October 14, 2021 at 9:18 pm

      I dont’ know enough about it to give an informed opinion. I think it’s relatively new so I’d like to see some track record of successes.

  4. Kristi Holl on October 18, 2021 at 3:43 am

    My comments don’t usually show up, but I’ll try again. THANK YOU, LESLIE, FOR COMING DOWN STRONG LIKE THIS. For those of us who never had that support (or were never told the TRUTH about our “Christian wife obligations” to forgive and forget FAST), let us affirm what you said. If she does what he wants, she can COUNT ON having to face this again and again. Thank you for telling it like it is.

  5. Patrice on November 10, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Where there is no respect, there cannot be Love. He doesn’t Love her in fact the other woman probably dumped him so he went running home to mommy and it’s cruel for him to expect his spouse/victim to just forgive and move on so that he doesn’t have to be accountable. As woman we just need to Love ourselves more and better than we don’t tolerate the foolishness.

  6. Sarah on November 10, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Reading this article runs parallel to my situation of verbal, mental, emotional, spiritual abuse. Whatever each of our issues are, they are valid and need to be dealt with. It is a journey with the vital transformation of our victim mindsets. As my husband chooses to work on his issues, I “hope” he changes. I “pause” what really needs to happen. I “want” him to be the one to stop his behavior and value me and others. I do not want to divorce, but abusive cyclical reality is REAL. It keeps cycling back to bite hard and deeper. It’s entrapment. The LORD has been searing my heart to claim and experience His beautiful creation, His daughter of the King. HIS mentality and truth for mine. To realize we both are harming ourselves, forsaking His reality in action. Choosing old behavior or learning and living new. Enough is enough. To break the cycle, someone needs be enlightened, forsake fear, to step out, make the decision, follow through with clarity and conviction. I believe the LORD is preparing me to be bold, make a stand, honor myself. I have contacted a mediation company. I have a specific group of friends praying and supporting me. I also challenge myself to remain present, invite the LORD into those crazy moments of overwhelm, press INTO Him, walk WITH Him through the murky mess, knowing He will provide me freedom of mind, body, soul, in His strength. It has been an incredible journey so far.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 11, 2021 at 12:21 am

      Glad you are learning to do your own work whether or not he does his.

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