This is a tough subject to write about. For one thing, I can’t speak from experience. 😉 But seriously, this is not a light topic. It is one where advice is easier to give to others than it is to live out. No marriages are perfect. This is not a shock because we are all flawed human beings fighting against selfishness every day, so we have issues. You know what I mean…one of you is upset and says something hurtful…one of you takes the last piece of cake that the other wanted…one of you spends money on something that the other gets upset about. These are common sorts of issues that all marriages deal with. They are not huge and can usually be sorted out with a small amount of communication. What I want to address is, what do you do if your wife does something that hurts you significantly…something like hiding an addiction from you or having an affair.
Before I get into it, I want to first say that I know I run the risk of appearing insensitive. I realize that I’ve not been through this, and if I HAD, there is a very real chance that my words would be different. I know that men who experience this will have their lives turned upside down and can feel broken and helpless. I apologize if this opens any wounds or feels insulting to anyone for the situation they are in. Considering all of that, I still feel God leading me to address it, so I am going to go out on a limb trusting that you know my heart…and know that it is not my intention to offend or trivialize anything you way have experienced. If you do feel that way, I apologize.
For starters, it needs to be said that problems like this probably need professional help to appropriately deal with it, both for you and for her. It’s important for her to understand that what she has done is not ok. I am NOT professional help and am only sharing some thoughts I have in hopes of being helpful to someone. I am not going to attempt to craft a complete response to this question as there is too much to deal with. Rather, I want to focus on just one aspect…forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:32 : “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Matthew 6:14-15 : “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
From these verses, I find 2 significant points:
– God forgave us for sinning against Him, and He wants us to forgive other people.
– If we do not forgive others for their sins, God will not forgive ours. (YIKES!)
These points are important because it sets ground rule expectations for how we should live. It also assigns gravity to it based on the fact that if WE want to be forgiven for our screw-ups, then we need to be willing to forgive others. I know we ALL need this.
Luke 17:3-4 : “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Matthew 18:21-22 : “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
There are 2 significant points I get from these verses:
– If someone is repentant of what they’ve done, then we MUST forgive them. I think it is worthwhile to mention that we should forgive others even if they AREN’T repentant, but this passage specifically mentions when they are.
– Jesus’s call to forgive seventy times seven is an indication that there is no limit to the number of times we should forgive someone.
So, what exactly does it mean to forgive someone? Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you act like something never happened, but rather that you give up your desire for revenge and feelings of resentment. NOT forgiving someone will result in anger, resentment, and frustration that will never go away. Forgiving frees you from those feelings and makes way for hope, joy, peace…and yes…even love to fill you again. Forgiving your wife for something she has done may even help you to have compassion and empathy for her situation.
Now, there will likely still be consequences from the actions. Trust takes a long time to earn back when broken. There could be physical consequences, and it will certainly affect your relationship. Concerning marital infidelity, it also should be said that I realize there are biblical grounds for divorce. I’m not going to take the time to go through what they all are here or debate whether or not it is good to do so in certain situations, but I just want to point out that forgiveness is something that SHOULD be present no matter what the action was or the consequences that came from it.
So here’s where the rubber meets the road…putting this into the context of real life. What do you do when your wife messes up? There are a lot of things to say, do, and work through, and again I suggest getting help to do so. The one thing I want to encourage you to always be ready with is…forgiveness. If she is repentant for what she did, forgive her…unconditionally…over and over again if necessary.