Am I Wrong for Not Wanting Reconciliation?

Morning friend, 

I had a wonderful time in Istanbul and Greece on my cruise. It was two years of waiting, but worth it. I especially enjoyed seeing Ephesus and Mars Hill, where the apostle Paul was, and visiting the place he preached in Acts 16. It’s hard to get back on track, especially with the holidays coming up.I am doing a free workshop on December 6th, on Change Your Story, Change Your Life, Moving From Breakdown to Breakthrough. For more information or to register, click here.

Question:  I have filed for divorce, but my husband still wants to buy me things and do things with me. He feels I should talk to people who have gone through adultery but have stayed together. But I don't want to reconcile, am I wrong?

Answer: You are not wrong for not wanting to reconcile with someone who has committed adultery. If there is one clear Biblical reason for allowing divorce it’s adultery. God knows that cheating and lying in an intimate relationship are serious deal breakers and trust is often irreparably harmed. 

That does not mean that forgiveness, even reconciliation is not possible after adultery, but it is not Biblically required for you to reconcile, even if you do forgive. Adultery is a serious break of trust, and the marriage relationship does not get repaired without serious personal and marital work. 

Your husband believes buying you things or wanting to do things with you should make you feel better and erase the negative consequences of what he has done to you and your marriage. You never mentioned if he’s repented of his sin or is getting any help to deal with what he did to harm you and your marriage. For me, that alone is a big red flag. I wonder if he believes he can pass over that step and simply return to being charming, generous, and attentive, hoping to win your heart back.

And…. It may be tempting. Most women enjoy being showered with gifts, attention, and affection. But keep alert because this strategy is seductive and can lead to you losing sight of the big picture and the broken trust you experienced. It can lull you into believing he’s sorry and won’t do it again. However, if he hasn’t really done any work to examine himself as to why he did it, it’s likely to reoccur. 

Since you do not desire reconciliation, my question for you is why do you hesitate to say goodbye? Why do things with him or accept his gifts? It seems that you may confuse him by not being clear that you do not want what he wants. 

Friends, how do you resist the pressure or the seduction of the love bombing stage of the cycle?

12 Comments

  1. Mary Starnes on December 1, 2022 at 9:30 am

    Whoever responded from Leslie’s team 2 this week’s question knew exactly what they were talking about. It could not have been stated any better. It was my marriage of 26 years and I continued to move forward without any recognition of his sin on his part no I am sorry and repeated occurrences over and over until I broke and one day his eyes begin to wander and show signs that he was headed down the same road again and I packed the truck and left numb to the entire situation. I was so spiritually and emotionally broken from living in the toxic relationship and allowing myself to be treated less than what God had for me. Please remove yourself from the environment and find the strength to set your boundary.

  2. Caroline Abbott on December 1, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Abusive people don’t like it when their partners try to get away from them. They lose something valuable to them – a person to abuse. https://carolineabbott.com/2013/09/how-can-an-abuse-victim-know-ifwhen-to-reconcile/

  3. Martha on December 1, 2022 at 3:15 pm

    In my situation, I would like your opinion on if it is wrong to not want to reconcile after 20 years of emotional and verbal abuse? My husband did not cheat on me. However, I begged him many many times through the years to change or to get counseling or for us to get counseling, and he never would do anything to fix out situation and his anger. Only when I finally left did he decide to change. Now he states that I HAVE to reconcile because God doesn’t allow divorce and that I will go to Hell if I don’t. I do not trust him. I do not love him anymore. I do not want to be near him ever again. He broke my trust and heart more times than I care to count. Am I biblically supposed to try to fix it?

    • Leslie Vernick on December 1, 2022 at 3:46 pm

      Martha, he broke it, you can’t fix it. The consequences of repeated unrepentant sin may create permanent consequences like broken trust. Don’t take that responsibility on for yourself. IF he is condemning you and judging you and pressuring you then I don’t believe his repentance or change is real. He’s still emotionally battering you to do what he wants, he’s just using spiritual language now.

    • Sarah on December 4, 2022 at 7:13 am

      Martha,

      You do not have grounds for divorce.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 4, 2022 at 6:02 pm

        Sarah, I’m going to challenge your short response to Martha. How do you know she does not have grounds? How do you know what she has gone through, tried, ways she has been mistreated in her marriage? And let me ask you… How do you have a Biblical marriage when you are repeatedly verbally and emotionally battered? How do you trust this person? How do you feel safe with him? How do you even want to kiss him? Are you saying that God cares more about her staying together for appearances sake than for her own mental, emotional and physical safety? I’m not talking about “I want to be happy here”. But I am wondering if you don’t think God wants his precious daughter to be safe or free from verbal battering where possible? What do you think of the verse in Proverbs that says it’s better to live in the corner of a rooftop than with an angry and contentious woman? Doesn’t that say to you that God acknowledges that it’s pretty tough living with someone who is verbally and emotionally battering you? How do you do “Life together” as in marriage. It’s more like a prisoner in a concentration camp, is this what you would say honors God more than being honest and holding her husband accountable either to repent and change or lose the privilege of her companionship? I would encourage you to put yourself in those shoes and for 25 years years of a marriage where you are treated as if you don’t matter and you are simply an object to use – maid, mother, sex object. Is this God’s design for woman and wives? I don’t think so.

    • Joann Neff on December 5, 2022 at 12:10 am

      In reply to Martha and to the original question posted by Leslie:
      We learn from the Bible that as Christians, God desires us to pursue reconciliation in any relationship. Doing what we are told not to do, or not doing what we are told to do is sin, and that sin begins to break down our personal relationship with God. So YES, we should always desire or “want to” reconcile a relationship of any kind and anything less is sin.
      BUT, it does take two to reconcile a relationship.
      If an offender chooses not to repent of the sin that has caused damage to the relationship (and sometimes the offender needs to be made aware they are sinning against you or someone else) they are in a state of spiritual death and you are free to walk away from the relationship as God does not intend you to maintain a relationship with the dead.
      So to the initial question: If this were a friend of mine seeking Christina council, I would say that it is entirely possible that the husband who had committed adultery understands the gravity of the sin he had committed and truly repents of the sin (breaking off the relationship) and that God would desire both parties to pursue healing the marriage relationship. True humble and repentant hearts can be a wonderful ministry to others facing the same issues!!
      To Martha, I’m sorry to learn that abuse is part of your life story – YES, reconciliation would be Gods desire for you and your husband BUT, I believe God would first desire repentance. The sin of abuse (or any sin) not only breaks relationship amongst people but also the relationship between God and the sinner. Truly turning from sin restores relationship with God and Gods people. NO, its not your job to “fit it”, that’s his job… your role is to grow yourself and from the safe place of whatever boundaries you feel necessary, encourage him to grow as well.
      I would encourage you to check out the teaching of Tony Evans as he has a wonderful teaching on marriage and divorce and the concept of the severing of a relationship both in terms of physical death and spiritual death.
      I pray that you (even from a safe distance) continue to pray for your husband, seek solid Christian council both for yourself and as a couple and encourage your husband to connect with a Christian community where there can be honest accountability – a willingness to humble himself to you, to others and the Lord and be patient with the process of rebuilding trust in a relationship should be a good indicator of true repentance.

  4. A.I. on December 1, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    A great book to read if you are not sure is called Cheating in a Nutshell. I just finished reading this because I am sure that my husband has someone else. I have no support from my pastor because he doesn’t want to get involved even though he’s been listening to my husband trash me for the last 2 years. He refuses to even consider the possibility that my husband has been unfaithful even though all of the telltale signs are there and I have had him followed. He’s a great guy he gets in his skiff and drives it over the water to a nearby town where someone picks him up so he is almost impossible to track. However his phone showed up at wine bar for lunch when we don’t even drink!?
    Anyway the point of the book is that one reason the Bible says adultery is a reason is because it mortally wounds the relationship and contrary to popular belief it is pretty much impossible to heal a marriage after this has taken place. It asserts that the popular wisdom is that the victim should stay with the person
    and try to love them and keep it together even though statistics show overwhelmingly that once a cheater always a cheater and the same person is faced with the same situation years later after wasting so much time and effort on trying to heal. Society puts the burden on the victim to just get over it when the real problem is with the serial cheater, which all cheaters are.

  5. Nell on December 1, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    We’ve Been Married 55 Years March 5th. 2023! My Husband Told Me He Gave Sperm 47 Years Ago And Now A Young Girl; 47Years Old Says She’s His Daughter Through “You And Me” Testing! I Forgave Him And Tried To Stay, But I Also Found Myself Packing The Car And Leaving In A Moment Of Anxiety! This Went On A Year And A Half And Finally I Left Our Home And Went Out Of State To My Brother And Sisters Homes! I’ve Been To Counciling, But I am Still Broken And Have A Order Of Protection On My Husband! If You Are In A Abusive Relationship! RUN! We Were Always Moving So I Never Had family Close! I Too Could Right A Book, But I’m Just So Hurt! 55 Years Four Children, 12 Grandchildren, And A 5th. Grandchild Due Any Day! I Took Care Of His Previous Three Boys Who I Love Dearly! I Took Care of His Mother And A Niece! We Both We’re Previously Married, Divorced And Then We Married! We Go Back To Court This Month And Our Future Looks Pretty Dem! At This Moment We Both Need Prayer! Let Alone The 8th Child, A Daughter He Never Recognized! His Story Was A lie! His Whole Family Found Out During Their Ancestry Venture! Thank You For Your Time! I Needed A Friend! 🙏

    • Leslie Vernick on December 1, 2022 at 5:22 pm

      I’m so sorry Nell for what you and your family is going through. So painful. We’re here for you.

  6. Meah on December 12, 2022 at 6:56 am

    I believe that a spouse can also commit adultery with their desires for other things making them their priority greater then their spouse/marriage. The original meaning of adultery is ad = to, ulter (alter)= change. I know a couple where the man who shifted his attention from his wife to his dream of going to Alaska. That is all he talked about and was working towards while his wife just was along for the ride and what she was capable of doing to help get them moved there. The auction they had did not sell their house or give them enough money to travel and rent a place there. So they did not go. She said she started to cringe when she would here him talk about Alaska. He would watch all the Alaska shows he could find on TV. When their children would ask for something…he would say he wants something too…to be in Alaska, but he does get what he wants. Like he was despising his family as if they were holding him back. The wife told me she was now concerned that if they would move there and something would happen to their marriage (since she was clearly being neglected). She would have no one around her to go to for help. She felt he loved the thought of Alaska more then her, but she was not able to tell him that as when she would try to talk with him about stuff that bothered her. He would turn things around on her, tell her she was taking his actions wrong. Just threw off her feelings with no true empathy. They are still together…surprisingly. I have seen her stick up for herself more lately. She believes that God protected her (and the children) from going as she thinks that her husband would have used not having ppl around her to confide in and go to as a scare tactic in their marriage having learned more about his personality. I believe she is right. Keep her in your prayers as she is trying to find means to provide for herself and the remaining children as her husband has threatened several times to leave her over the past 2 years. He does not feel that he needs to appologize for his words or actions.

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