Question: My husband confessed to adultery 4 years ago and till now, he wants to cling on to his “2nd wife”. I have chosen to stay on in this marriage and not fight in the worldly sense. However I wonder if that is wrongly telling him that it is alright to carry on this choice of lifestyle? (Elaine from MI)
Answer: There are many reasons some women may choose to stay in such an arrangement – financial, health concerns, and young children being some of them. But staying with your husband while he is having an adulterous relationship with another woman indeed gives your husband the message that there are no consequences to his sinful behavior. (And you might also be teaching your children that it’s OK to sin because nothing really bad happens)
Dishonesty, betrayal, and infidelity breach our marital promises. They deeply wound and can fatally injure the very foundations of any marital relationship. You mention that you’ve chosen not to fight in the worldly sense. I’m wondering if you are fighting in the Biblical sense?
Many believe that Christ’s teaching to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile excludes fighting back. However, the apostle Paul said that in some circumstances he found it best to fight back. Instead of fists or ugly words, (worldly ways) however, he used different kinds of weapons. He used the weapons of righteousness (2 Corinthians 6:7).
You are in a war – a war of good versus evil, but we are not to fight this war as the world does (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Romans 12 tells us how we are to win this war against evil. We are to overcome evil with good. Overcome is a fighting word. It is active, not passive. So, let me give you some specific ways you might start fighting in a godly way for your husband, for your marriage, and for your self.
First, we overcome evil with good when we choose to respond to wrongdoing in ways that are godly, righteous and loving. In other words, we are to respond to our spouse’s wrongs in ways that are in his long term best interests. What is in your husband’s best interest here? Certainly it is to pray vigorously for him. But is it best to allow him to continue to sin without protest or consequence? Is it good for him to believe that it’s acceptable to live with you while continuing to be sexually involved with another woman? The Bible tells us that a man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7). It also warns an adulterer “Can you take fire upon your lap and not get burned?” (Proverbs 6:27). By staying with your husband, are you not short circuiting God’s process for bringing someone to his senses by giving him the perks of marriage while not being committed to you in marriage?
Second, we overcome evil with good when we don’t let our enemy, Satan, fill us with doubts about God and his love for us. When we are hurting, angry and afraid, Satan often attacks our faith and tempts us to doubt God. We feel too afraid to implement the gift of consequences or too angry to speak the truth in love. The outcome is that Satan not only has our spouse, he’s now captured us as well. Don’t let him.
Third, you can fight for the sacredness of the marital covenant by not allowing this other woman to share your husband. You cannot change what your husband does, but you certainly can change what you do. You might want to say something like this:
“I’ve been more than patient with your struggle, hoping you could come to your senses. But I will not continue to live as if this is OK and I am not deeply wounded by your unfaithfulness to me, your wife. You must choose. I will not live like this – with you thinking it’s OK to have us both.”
Again your children are learning what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to live with. What are you teaching them by your example is something to look soberly at.
Last but certainly not least, what is in your long term best interests here? A biblical self-love honors one’s body and cares for your self. Is it in your best interests to be sexually involved with a man who is sexually involved with another woman? Are you not risking disease as well as continued emotional and mental harm?
I cannot decide what’s best for you but with wise counsel, you must make some hard choices. To stay always looks like the more biblical choice, but if we are staying because we’re afraid to leave, then it is not a choice made by faith but based on fear. That is not God’s way. Cling close to him and be willing to let your husband go if he will not change. Then see what God does.
Readers, be sure to visit my home page and view my new video teaching on The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. I am offering a free teleconference in September. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.