There is perhaps no betrayal more painful than that experienced in marital infidelity. All too often, this pain can materialize while a warrior is on duty. Regardless of which partner is the betrayer, both will need God’s help if the marriage is to survive.
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans’” (Hosea 3:1, NKJV).
But God most certainly can help. He knows what betrayal feels like, and He even used a broken marriage in the Old Testament to give a picture of His power to restore lives and relationships. In the prophet Hosea’s day, the people of God had turned away from the Lord to worship other gods. God spoke through the prophet to show that the believer who turns to a false god is like a marriage partner who has betrayed Him, the divine Husband. God then used the betrayal by Hosea’s wife, and the prophet’s forgiveness, to describe His own desire to bring unfaithful people back into fellowship with himself. An affair is a deep wound to heal, but healing is possible.
Two things enable marriages to recover from an affair: a strong commitment to stay together and the grace of God. For some, the trauma of betrayal may be too overwhelming and may destroy that commitment to stay together. When unfaithfulness persists, divorce can prove unavoidable. But marriage partners who choose repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation can expect God’s divine provision of the help they need.
When you are betrayed, what can you bring to the situation? Your long-term commitment to the process of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation will build hope and a good chance for success if your spouse will make the same commitment. Determine that you will be the first one to pursue healing. What are the practical steps to healing?
First, a renewed commitment to marital/sexual faithfulness creates a foundation on which every other healing step can rest.
Second, as the one who was unfaithful repents, acknowledges what happened was wrong, and asks for forgiveness, the door opens for long-term healing.
Third, the healing truly is long-term because it is a process. One or both spouses, especially the offender, may try to move too fast, forget about the trauma, and move on. But the betrayed spouse may need months or even years to work through the pain and grief.
Fourth, most couples need professional help. Military installations have chaplains and counselors who have expertise in this area. Your care team may also involve clinical therapists, social workers, or medical professionals.
Fifth, betrayal demands a natural response of grief. Over time, the stages of grief soothe emotional pain and release harmful internal energies. If you cut short your grieving process, you risk emotional damage and may seek comfort in unhealthy practices.
All of these steps can help you and your spouse experience divine and personal forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean you deny the betrayal occurred or seek to whitewash it. Forgiveness means you have declared the offender guilty. What happened was wrong, it hurt deeply, and must never happen again. But when you forgive, you give up your right to demand punishment. You set the person free and no longer hold it against the offender.
You may struggle to forgive, and you will never forget. But healing and forgiving are the goals. Your commitment to the process of healing and forgiveness, and your prayerful reliance on God, will position you for the hard but rewarding work of rebuilding your marriage. God is the rebuilder, the healer, the reconciler. With God, all things are possible!
If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.
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