Whew, we just finished our CONQUER membership invite for this season. The doors are closed for now, and we are all about welcoming and loving on our new members. I’m heading off to Haven House to partner with Lysa Terkeurst for her 3-day intensive retreat. It’s an honor to be part of her team there as our population overlaps so much. I’d appreciate your prayers as we will be doing back-to-back retreats and it’s already been a busy season for me.
Today’s Question: I recently discovered that my husband engaged in a physical affair that began six months after we got married and lasted for a year. Needless to say, I am devastated. Since the affair came to light, he has done everything “right” (ceasing contact with the affair partner, sharing passwords, going to therapy, etc.) however, I still find it extremely difficult to trust him given the length of the affair and the fact that it started so soon after we were married.
We do not have any children together. Is there any situation in which you would recommend a woman try to reconcile under these circumstances or do you think I would be better off moving on? Please respond, I am desperate for wise guidance.
Answer: I am so sorry. No woman ever wants to discover that her husband has been unfaithful and a very good liar for such a long time. Your question is valid. I cannot make your decision for you, but I think you are very wise to reconsider the character and values of the person you married. You shouldn’t find it easy to trust him again. He has not shown himself trustworthy despite seemingly doing the right things now.
Here are some things I’d like you to think through:
As newlyweds, your husband willingly engaged in an extramarital relationship for over a year. He purposefully deceived you about this (and who knows what else). It seems you discovered this affair; he did not willingly disclose it. Once you were suspicious, did he admit it or continue to lie? Once you found out for sure, what happened next? Did he own it or lie some more? How long did he keep up his lying? I’m curious. Did his conscience bother him and once confronted readily confessed? Or did you have to “prove” or “threaten” or drag it out of him in some way for him to come clean? These answers matter. Pay attention.
Now you say he’s doing everything right? Were these his ideas or yours? How could you possibly know what he’s genuinely doing? He’s good at deception. Right now I think you would find it hard to trust anything he says or does. That’s the consequence of his long-term deception.
You asked if you should reconcile your marriage or move on. I’d like you to examine your reason for considering reconciliation with someone who has so betrayed you, who is an expert at deception. With someone you can’t trust. If you had children together there may be some external factors to consider but that’s not the case here.
Yes, God values the sanctity of marriage, and your husband has violated that sanctity. Adultery is biblical grounds for divorce. I think forgiveness is important, but will you ever be able to trust or feel safe with him? Only you can answer that so here are some additional things I’d like you to think about.
What was your dating relationship like? Did you know him well? For how long? Have you noticed him being dishonest in other areas? Money? Time spent? With friends? How he feels? With his job? His family? On the phone with others? If so, even in little areas, it would appear your husband does not hold honesty as a high personal value. If you value honesty and reconcile with him, you will be chronically disappointed because telling the truth is not that important to him.
Next, look at the history of his prior relationships. Has he shown himself faithful to his commitments or is he more of a player? Does he keep his word to friends? To work deadlines? To money management? Does he generally demonstrate responsibility to his commitments, and integrity with his word? Or have you noticed him not keeping his commitments, disappointing friends, or not following through on doing what he said or promised? Is he more pleasure-oriented or principle-oriented?
It's been said the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Based on what you know and what you’ve seen, what are his patterns for self-awareness, self-reflection, and honesty with his own self, not to mention with others?
You mentioned this year-long affair with deception, which itself is deal-breaking. But as you look at the bigger picture and see more of the same character qualities, I think you know that if you decide to reconcile, you’ll be in for more of the same heartache.
On the other hand, if his overall history and character have been honorable, responsible, and trustworthy, and something provoked this “out of character” behavior, then perhaps with counseling, accountability, and hard work, he can rebuild your shattered trust.
Meanwhile, please take care of you. He’s in counseling, but I’d encourage you to get some help and support for yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to heal and don’t allow yourself to be pressured or guilt-tripped into premature reconciliation. Those would be additional red flags that nothing has changed and it’s still all about him.
Friend, if this woman was your daughter or close friend, what would you advise her and why?
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