This is long….
I’ve been married for 36 years. During the course of our Christian marriage I would never have imaged that my husband would be unfaithful. Well I was wrong! He says he has never had sex with anyone outside our marriage but he has had multiple emotional affairs.
It all started when he was in his 40’s. I discovered pictures on his phone (not indecent just selfies) that a high school age girl had sent him. He had met her at a local recreation center where he helped out occasionally. Years later he helped out at another recreation type place and he got her hired on to work part time. Around that time, I discovered the pictures on his phone. I searched our cell phone bill and discovered that they had been texting each other first thing in the morning, all through the day and until late at night. Well I exploded!! This girl was the same age as our child. She was actually friends with our teenage child. Unfortunately, he had to be in contact with her because he was her supervisor at her part time job. He finally quit volunteering at that place because I was constantly crying and questioning him about her. He said he didn’t think anything was wrong with what had happened that he was like a father to her. Anyway, we worked on our marriage and things were better. Years later I logged into his email account and he was in a chat room talking to some woman. I just sat at my computer with tear rolling down my face. He was talking with her right at that moment and I could read their conversation as it was happening. I confronted him and he denied it so I repeated their conversation and he finally owned up to it. I have never been so mad in my life. I was screaming at him and I even hit him. I felt so betrayed. He just sat and took it. I made him stay somewhere else that night. He begged to stay but I’d had enough. The next day we talked and I questioned him about a lot of things. We had school age children at the time. Again, I forgave him. Isn’t that what a Christian wife is suppose to do? Since then I will occasionally look at his phone. He has talked with several other woman since then. Indecent pictures and videos have been sent and received. I forgave him again! He doesn’t seem to have a conscience until he is caught and confronted. I’ve prayed for God to restore my marriage and help me to trust him. But I don’t trust him anymore. I’ve built a wall up and just don’t care anymore. If we have sex (which is maybe twice a month) it’s just that sex. He says that he is too tired. I don’t feel anything for him anymore. Am I wrong to feel this way? I’m just numb!
You asked if your feelings are wrong…. they are what they are and they are very understandable. I understand that numb feeling. I hated it. Rather than worrying if your feelings are wrong, I would focus on which direction you want to go with them. That numb feeling could easily turn into depression and despair, or you can be intentional to fight against it. And from my experience sometimes that “fight” is just holding on to the hope of who our God is and His faithfulness.
With the idea of this has done “irreparable damage”, that may be true, but it doesn’t have to be, with God all things are redeemable. I know of multiple testimonies where adultery was a lifestyle, and the marriages are better than ever….and it’s because of the work of Christ.
Hi Bev So sorry you are going through this. I dealt with infidelity of all types in my first marriage so I know the pain you are in and my heart goes out to you. I can absolutely identify with your sentiments of “a good, Christian wife is supposed to forgive” as this was the way I lived my life married to my ex husband. I thought I was supposed to forgive him for his endless acts of infidelity and I thought that meant “sweep it all under the rug and move on.” But I have been through a lot of life, counseling, reading books and processing and I have learned that, in fact, sweeping it under the rug is actually very far from what God requires of a Christian wife. Afterall, as we think of the way our Heavenly Father reconciles with us after we sin, He requires something of us in order to be accepted back into relationship with Him- he requires repentance! To repent literally means “to turn.” So I must ask- Has your husband repented of his actions? Has he turned away from his sin against you and God and done a 180? Also, consider this: repentance and remorse are not the same thing. Simply feeling sorry and feeling deep sorrow enough to choose to turn away from a behavior are two completely different things. Deep sorrow leading to true repentance must be the first step in the process of forgiveness. After this, comes the daily work of forgiveness as he chooses (daily) to be accountable to you and godly men for his actions and his possible temptations. I think it’s also reasonable for you to write down a list of things you need from him in order to begin the process of trusting again. Maybe it’s complete access to his phone and email…absolutely zero contact with this girl…. maybe it’s a weekly meeting with a pastor or counselor…whatever you need to be able to trust him again and take baby steps to move forward. I urge you to think about what you need from him and truly look for his willingness to be honest, transparent, vulnerable, sorrowful and repentant. His sorrowful remorse and true repentance should be evident in his willingness to help you heal from his infidelity. Additionally, I urge you to speak to your pastor, pastor’s wife, female prayer partner or licensed counselor to help you process through this. If your husband is truly repentant and the two of you decide to move forward in healing, you will, likely, be rebuilding many aspects of your marriage and life together from the ground up. You will need a lot of prayer, support and encouragement. Prayers for you and your husband.
Your are not wrong. You can forgive him but that does not require continually enduring his lack of repentance. From your words here, it certainly seems he is wrong and is making selfish choices. You have to make your own choices. There is a very specific guidance to handle sin in the Bible. It is NOT continual tolerance. He is NOT thinking about you or your pain when he engages in these activities. So it’s time for you to do that. In my opinion, based on your explanation,, it’s time for you to walk away, and very clearly expose his sin to him, and let him know with direct statements AND MORE IMPORTANTLY with your actions, that he has no contact with you except and until he exhibits openly and actively that he has repented and has taken definitive action to stop sinning. And trust that he knows what he is doing. Don’t let him gas light you.
But first, read these scriptures and consider how you can apply the principles and actions spoken of in them:
1 Cor 5:1-13
Consider those in the light of:
1 John 3:3-10
Then perhaps guide your husband to consider 2 Chronicles 7:14
I’m afraid I don’t have any experience or advice on this one, but Bev I am hurting with you and your story brought literal tears to my eyes. I am SO so sorry you are in this situation and in so much pain! But you are in the right place to find wisdom and encouragement from wise Christians who care and want to help you bring your marriage to fully thriving life. I pray that you will find the right counselor(s), that you husband will be convicted and his heart be broken over his sin and the damage he has caused, and that you both will find the path God has for you that will bring you together. I pray for peace and hope for you as you walk this road you didn’t want to take. I’m praying you will find something beautiful on it that you didn’t expect to find.
Blessings to you.
Sorry to hear of your sad story. The pain and disappointment, naturally will make you feel numb. It is only by the Grace of God that you have been able to forgive him and love him for 36 years.
He needs help. Do you have a pastor you and he could spend time with? Are there some godly men he could be accountable to? His repeat offenses are not excusable in anyway and he should get the therapy he needs. Do you have a support structure for yourself?
Bev, my heart is broken for you and your situation as I understand very well what it means to be betrayed by a spouse. Your feelings are normal for someone who was betrayed and being numb and having a wall built up is for your heart’s protection from the pain and hurt. What he’s done is abused minors and your grace and forgiveness time and time again.
Forgiveness and trusting again are two different things and deciding to forgive and trusting again are two different choices for your marriage to continue. He may be remorseful but it doesn’t mean you let him back in the house and your life at this time. Clearly since he’s betrayed your marriage on numerous occasions. As OWM said, he needs accountability and Christian therapy and until that happens AND then you see some intrinsically motivated behavior changes over time, a separation is in order for at least 6 months. If he won’t get help on his own for himself, then it seems he isn’t interested in changing his behavior and in the long run, saving your marriage. If you do again what you’ve already done, you’ll always get, what you’ve already got. It’s time to challenge his behavior with outside help.
I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing here at TMB.
I agree with what everyone else here has said so far. What your husband is doing is absolutely wrong. It sounds like he is a serial offender and may have a proclivity for much younger women (even minors). He needs to have this sin exposed, confess to it and repent of it, and suffer consequences in order to get on the right track. Others here have done a good job explaining how that can be done.
I do want to add that this probably runs far deeper than you know, as it nearly always does with affairs. At this point, it is effectively an addiction for him, little different than hard drugs. His gaslighting of you is a form of emotional abuse and absolutely needs to stop. His lying like that shows how he knows it is wrong. Also, long-term, serial emotional affairs often end up with a physical component, so it is likely that there has been physical things going on. I would suggest getting tested for STDs to protect yourself as well as seeking individual counseling.
Again, my heart breaks to hear about this. It has gone on much too long and done irreparable damage to your marriage. There is still hope, but things have to change hard and fast.
First, I’m so sorry you are walking through this. Being betrayed by our spouse is one of the most painful experiences to walk through.
It does not sound like your husband is repentant. He is still choosing his sin. Until he is repentant, short term behavior change is going to be about the best he will be able to produce. Most of the time, when people chase down this path, there are wounds and insecurities they are trying to bandage by seeking validation through the attention of others. In truth, until he repents and seeks God on this, he isn’t likely to change. We all do this to an extent, seek other things to make us feel valuable, to try and rescue ourselves.
Your husband needs counseling and accountability. He needs to choose God, and truly believe that God provides all he needs and finds him valuable. This is a lifelong process for most of us, but he will need to repent to start down that path, and he will need a lot of help when his hurts, fears and insecurities rise up again and tempt him to seek out attention online or in person from other women to make him feel better.
I would highly recommend counseling for your as well. Betrayal trauma is real thing. You have been wounded at the core. You need God to heal you and knit your heart back together with His love. There are some good books to read about this as well. Pursuing pornography, emotional affairs, physical affairs, all have similar root issues. They are all infidelity and all cause betrayal trauma. Some of these books have different focuses, but the root is the same:
Vicki Tiede When your husband is addicted to pornography
Meg Wilson Hope After Betrayal
Debra Laaser Shattered Vows
I am praying for you