Usually, when a husband and wife work at strengthening their marriage, it’s a good thing.
But for couples who have experienced marital unfaithfulness, they must first deal with the breach of trust. If they don’t, their hard work on areas like communication and sexual intimacy is going to be in vain.
If you’re a couple recovering from romantic or sexual infidelity or if you’re helping a couple in recovery, you can’t begin on improving the relationship like other couples might. You have to begin with the hard work of restoring a baseline of trust.
Here are four things you can do to that end, two for each spouse:
For the one who has harbored a secret sin:
1. Bring everything into the light. It’s tempting to admit to only what’s been discovered. But in the long run, this will destroy any progress you make. As painful as adultery is, ongoing deception exponentially cripples a betrayed spouse’s ability to trust again.
2. Aim to become trustworthy. It’s tempting to try to get your spouse to trust you again. A better goal is to do what you need to do to become a trustworthy person. Cultivate a habit of being open and honest, even when it’s scary or painful.
And for the husband or wife who’s healing from a spouse’s infidelity:
3. Get help for you. It’s not just your spouse who needs help. You need people around you who hold no pie in the sky notions that you should just get over it, but who also whole-heartedly believe marriages can be restored. Find two or three friends who can walk with you.
4. Practice self-care. Resist putting all your focus on your spouse’s recovery (If she’ll get her act together, everything will be fine.). Instead, focus on your healing. Getting solid ground beneath your feet will help you, whatever progress or lack thereof your spouse is making.
None of this is easy. Both husband and wife will need lots of help along the way. Jesus knows this and promises to walk with you, come what may. If you’re lacking hope, borrow His.
And borrow some of ours, too. Regeneration was started 35 years ago by a couple who survived infidelity. Their marriage eventually thrived. And they were just the beginning.
If your marriage has been impacted by infidelity (whether physical adultery, an emotional affair, or habitual pornography use), I want to invite you to join my wife and me for Restoring Trust on September 19 and 20 in Marriottsville, MD. We’ll dive deeply into these topics and much more.