Today with the new year upon us, we thought this was an appropriate time to hit you all up with another truth that falls into the same category: how to survive an affair.
Big word. Packs a lot of punch. And yet, we cannot walk through this world without the ability to do it. It’s not easy but its necessary. And it comes in many different forms.
Forgive your spouse. This doesn’t mean that you’re letting your spouse “get away with” what they did. It doesn’t mean they’ve been given a free pass. Or that what they did was okay.
Forgiveness isn’t about your spouse. It’s about you. It allows you to move past the hurtful behavior and work on letting it go. It allows you to be honest about who your spouse really is…a human being who is going to fail you. And it allows you to be honest about who you are…a human being who is going to fail your spouse at some point. Because we’re not perfect. One question that I asked myself when I was working on forgiving Clint was how undeserving I would be of his forgiveness if I cheated, and how much I would still desire it. More importantly, I was continually prompted to remember that God forgives me on a daily basis. For things I’m most definitely not deserving of forgiveness for. Forgiveness isn’t about what someone deserves. While it may feel difficult to forgive our spouse for this betrayal it is imperative if we intend on restoring our marriage. We cannot rebuild it on what they did or who they were. We have to let go of what they did and rebuild it on who we want to become.
The hurt you’ve experienced isn’t something that you get to keep in your back pocket to pull out in the future if your spouse messes up again. It can’t become a part of your arsenal. It’s not the trump card you get to play every time your spouse messes up (Psalm 103:12). We need to be willing to not hold what our spouse did against them. Wipe the slate clean.
Forgive the other person. Now this one may seem utterly impossible. When you’re in the thick of your spouse’s confession, believe me, it almost is. But, it too is necessary. It took me well over a year to honestly say and know that I had forgiven the women who had an affair with my husband. I had to come to the realization that what they had done had nothing to do with me. Affairs are one of the most selfish things we as human beings can do. Their desire to have my husband had everything to do with them. My ability to let that go and forgive them for their choices had everything to do with me.
One of the things that helped me in this process is just being willing to do what I did for my husband. I needed to see these women for who they really were. They weren’t necessarily the enemy. They weren’t my nemesis. They were women. Women who made bad choices that happened to have affected me. If I was being honest with myself, I would have to say that it was a very real possibility (given the state of my marriage at the time) that I could have easily been in their shoes. It’s too easy to buy into the lies. It’s too easy to tie affection or attention from someone else to my self worth. The truth is that these women and I had more in common than we didn’t. Being able to see that was crucial in my ability to separate myself from their choices.
Forgive yourself. I don’t know about you but when someone hurts me, when Clint confessed, one of the first things I did was look back on all the things I missed. All the things I could have, should have, would have done differently. I took a magnifying glass over everything. All the gut feelings I had that I did nothing about. All of the times when I could have been better and done better in my marriage and maybe this wouldn’t have happened. I had to come to the realization that the choices that were made by others probably couldn’t have been changed by me acting differently or being a super sleuth and circumventing everything before it happened. People are going to make the choices that they are going to make. Even if I wasn’t the best wife, didn’t make the best decisions, didn’t always make my husband “want” to come home to me, I needed to move past that and figure out in the current moment how to do better, how to be better, how to be a part of a marriage that was going to work. Today.
That’s the key to forgiveness really. Recognizing that other people’s choices aren’t about you. And giving people room to be human. People are going to mess up. You’re going to mess up. And tomorrow is another day to get up and try again.
So in this New Year, to sum up, lets try to remember the truth…
Our marriages need us to wipe the slate clean. Start new. Let go. Move forward. And we can’t do that until we choose to forgive.