Would I Be a Fool to Reconcile?

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Today’s Question: I discovered my husband’s 8-month affair 1 1/2 years ago. We separated for 3 months and then I took him back to work on things. I even told him I forgave him. He continued to lie to me. Then 3 1/3 months ago I discovered he betrayed me again a few more times with the same woman 6 months prior while we were trying to rebuild and take all the affair recovery courses. 

We separated again and this time I wasn't codependent. I didn't tell him what he should do. I left it totally up to him, but he's done nothing and in his weak moments, he has even approached his affair partner for conversation. I recently told him this is the end of the line for me. He told me he wanted to reconcile, and he gave me a genuine apology and he passed a polygraph that I asked for a long time ago, but he was unwilling to do so because he hadn't come clean to me about all the lies yet.

Would I be a fool to consider possible reconciliation and rebuilding our marriage after all this? We've been married 33 years and have two grown (recently) married children. Thanks so much.

Answer: I’m sorry you have been so deceived for so long. Your question, “Would you be a fool to consider reconciliation with a man who has repeatedly cheated, lied, and pretended during a “reconciliation” time?” From what you’ve said he’s not done any work around this. Now he passes a polygraph test and gives you seemingly a sincere apology and you’re wondering if this is a good sign to reconcile the relationship. 

Only you can answer that question. But let me give you some things to consider. When you told him he was free to do what he wanted to do, he did go for help? No, you mentioned he approached his former partner for a conversation. He did not work on himself – looking deeply within about why he lied, why he cheated, and why he was willing to throw away his integrity, his family, and his marriage for this other relationship. Perhaps now he passed the polygraph test because the other woman was done with him, and he wanted to come back home. So “technically” the affair was over, but nothing had changed inside of him. 

Your husband is not an emotionally healthy or safe person. From what you have said, he has done nothing to examine his own choices, feelings, past traumas, and values, nor looked at his reasons for what he did. He may be lonely and wants to come home. He may regret what he did, but what has he learned? He may be worried about how a divorce will impact his financial well-being. You aren’t really sure why he wants to come home because he’s such a good liar. 

Therefore, look at his fruit. How does he show care for how his behaviors have impacted you and the children? What has he done to earn and rebuild broken trust? I don’t see anything from your letter. 

Dear one, you cannot rebuild a healthy marriage with one or perhaps two unhealthy people. You said you stopped your co-dependency. That’s great. But it might do you good to look at some of your own life story and build more inner health for yourself. Ask yourself, is he willing to do his work to get healthy? Or is it just he wants to come home? What kind of “new” marriage do you want? Does he want? Does it match? What would it take to have that kind of marriage? What would he need to do differently this time if he is tempted to lie, or cheat? What steps is he willing to take to rebuild your broken trust? 

There are many questions to explore. You don’t have to give him a hard no, or an easy yes to the idea of reconciliation. But your hesitation and boundaries may give you some important information on where he truly is. However, what you do need to do is get healthy and strong enough to ask him the hard questions and see what kind of answers he gives. If he really wants to rebuild your relationship, then see if he is willing to do his own work first. If not, then since he is such a good liar, you’ll have to decide whether or not you will ever be able to trust him again. 

Friend, if you reconciled in your marriage after your husband’s long-term affair and repeated deception, what steps did you take, what steps did he take, and what steps did you both take to make that happen? Did it result in a better marriage?

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  1. Carrie on May 24, 2024 at 3:48 pm

    Dear Reader and woman who does not want to disobey God, blow apart her world or that of her family.

    I pray you will take the suggested steps and truly consider the questions and ask God for clarity. He is a good Father.

    I would stop for a moment and consider what you would want for your own daughter or sister or beloved friend. Turn that wisdom towards yourself and love yourself like that.


    • Laura Petherbridge on May 25, 2024 at 7:20 am

      It’s not disobedient to say no more tolerance of sin in my own home. It’s not disobedient to hold a spouse accountable for unrepentant, ongoing, habitual sin. It’s love. Just like God allows us to suffer a consequence for sin, this wife is doing the same. It’s only when we worship and make an idol out of marriage MORE THAN THE GOD who created marriage, would we view this woman as being disobedient if she chooses to divorce.

      • Lori on May 27, 2024 at 2:01 pm

        Wise, godly advice

    • Eleo on May 26, 2024 at 9:49 pm

      Thank you for this. Sometimes I find it easier to have a good advise for a friend than for myself.

    • Karen on May 28, 2024 at 7:46 am

      Please heed the counsel given to you. Years ago with the churches resolve to fight back against women’s lib many of us were caught im guilty.this was both it was our fault and God hated divorce. For me I struggled with feelings of in adequacy and rejection anyway. Please listen to the this good counsel. Today yes I’m still married
      I still walk on eggs . Our church though a good Bible backing church. Embraces some of the old backlash and instead of looking at the fact the Bible says when Adam had the fruit their eyes were open …
      They blame woman for the fall of man….please listen to the counsel you were given to your question. In he long run your life will be better.

  2. Mary on May 24, 2024 at 4:05 pm

    I have been there and I’m convinced once a cheater always a cheater. I felt like a bad Christian sometimes for having difficulty forgiving until his last go-around (married 32 years). One of the other women called me; we had a lovely conversation. Same as you, he had convinced me he was a changed man. He wasn’t.

  3. Rolande on May 24, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    Your husband needs to seek also a male Christian counselor and let him manages that. The polygraph test should be done with this counselor. You are not his counselor you are in pain, your heart is suffering let him do his own work. Seek support and help from a woman counselor . He does alone is counseling, you do your own counseling and then if it’s necessary both of you in counseling. I will pray for both of you.

  4. Sara on May 24, 2024 at 7:37 pm

    Iam somewhat in a similar situation. Those questions that are posed to ” ask yourself” can some of those be asked directly to h when he is wanting to reconcile and being extra nice? We’ve separated 3 months he said he will go see counselor and I’ve actually fallen for some of the live bombing and allowed him partially back in but he stated he didn’t want to weasel his way back but Im still hesitant that he will think two sessions are going to be enough. I pray I have the wisdom to discern and know what to do.

  5. Deborah on May 24, 2024 at 7:42 pm

    I learned a long time ago that it may be a relief to realize the marriage you thought had didn’t exist. That faux marriage is gone, so is time to attempt to build something new? Answering the questions offered from Leslie along with your own counseling will be very useful. God loves women, we are nurturers and to be nurtured. Another clarifying factor is your own physical health, betrayal effects our bodies in many ways. Respecting our health and well-being is our responsibility.

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