When an unfaithful husband’s* betrayal comes to light, and both he and his wife begin the process of recovery, it’s not uncommon to hear something along these lines:
“I’ll do whatever is necessary to get things back to the way they were.”
“I’m through with the other relationship. I don’t want to lose my wife and family.”
“If my wife will forgive me, I know we can be happy again like we used to be.”
To a hurting wife who herself doesn’t want to lose what she had and desperately wants things to go back to the way they were, this can be encouraging.
But in a certain light, it shouldn’t be.
The reason why is this: The way things were isn’t what they remember. Those times may have felt better, but the truth is, they weren’t better.
Sure, in some cases she may have been blissfully unaware, but back then, something was stirring under the surface that eventually led to where the marriage is today. For example, perhaps . . .
- He was keeping secrets from her and others.
- She was ignoring her own concerns.
- He wasn’t maintaining honest relationships with godly men committed to his spiritual health and the health of his marriage.
- His relationship with Christ was more rules than relationship, was lukewarm or was non-existent.
- She liked the reputation (or income, or lifestyle) they had more than the truth of their life.
- He was unaccountable, no one could touch him.
- She didn’t know one of his most daunting areas of struggle, and so in one sense she didn’t really know him.
If you’re in recovery from marital infidelity, you don’t want to go back. Backwards is where the problem was cultivated, took root, and grew.
This doesn’t mean everything in the past is lost, but it does mean that in order to have a healthy, godly marriage in the future, you both will have to get help to face reality, develop new patterns, and practice new ways of relating with each other as well as other brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
The way of healing and reconciliation can only be accomplished by moving forward.
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* Although both husbands and wives can be guilty of marital infidelity, I write here from the perspective that the husband has been unfaithful so as to avoid confusion and the cumbersomeness of using “he/she” and “him or her.”)