Recovering from an Affair 9/13

Occasionally, a letter comes along that might be helpful to us all. Here is a letter we received just this week in response to this series.

Hi Milan and Kay,

Thank you for this series of newsletters. My husband and I went through and are still going through this issue where my husband was unfaithful to me with three prostitutes earlier in our marriage but I didn’t find out until he confessed many years later. He confessed about three years ago. We have been through marriage counseling and at this point he is getting individual counseling.

I wanted to comment that while most marriages probably have both people contributing to an affair, in our case it is not so. My husband had issues that he himself needed to fix. He tried to blame me for most of our marriage, and I tried everything that my pastors and accountability partners suggested. It took many years for me to realize that it was *he* who had problems and not me. I did everything I could to be an attractive and available partner for my husband. I blamed myself for many years, and only through therapy and marriage counseling I realized that he had various issues that he had to fix.

So again, while I think that looking at both partners in the marriage is probably the right thing in 99% of marriages that experience an affair, it is not true in my marriage. It took a while but my husband finally took full responsibility for his unfaithfulness and rendered me blameless.

I just think that there may be a few spouses out there in my situation, and we keep hearing how it’s both spouse’s fault for affairs, but although I am in the minority, it’s not true in all cases.

Thanks for listening and for the newsletters. I hope to attend one of your sessions again in the future.

Dear J,

Thanks for the thoughtful response and for taking the time to share your heart. It is a difficult topic and I’m sorry that you’ve experienced this tragedy within your marriage. Here are a few thoughts:

It has never been my / our intention to ever suggest that an affair is “both spouses fault.” There is only one person who is responsible for violating God’s word, and that is the adulterer him/ herself. We agree with you that healing only really occurs when the guilty party takes 100% of the responsibility for transgressing God’s Law and violating the marriage covenant.

It is possible for a relationship to be cruising along with seemingly no apparent problems and for an affair to suddenly be revealed. Anyone can be surprised by sin. We have an enemy that is prowling around seeking people to devour and Jesus told us to frequently pray, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (I Peter 5:8; Matthew 6:13).”

The problem of “late confessions” is that the person who committed the sin years ago is over the shock of the event and can deliver the information in the present with little emotional connection to the person or affair in the past. To the spouse who is hearing this for the first time, it is shocking, saddening and startling. The deceit, sometimes lasting for decades hits the innocent party like a brick and it takes a long time, perhaps a life time, for the pain to subside. The guilty party can become impatient with their spouse’s reaction to “old news” having compartmentalized it into some distant recess of their mind. To the innocent party, the news is fresh and new. The loss is real, and it will take time for the picture to come into focus and the questions formulated and the answers given.

For healing to take place after infidelity, I will restate the fact that both people need to be open to their contribution to the marital drift prior to the affair. Somehow, intimacy was lost, connection is low, assumptions are made, love is taken for granted, naivety reigns and neither person knows what is really going on in the other person’s mind. For this type of disconnection, both people carry responsibility, whether an affair takes place or not.

Thanks for listening,

Love and Blessings,

Milan & Kay